How a telecom company turned to agile and data-driven innovation

by | Innovation, Product Management

Many companies take on initiatives that promise innovation but these efforts don’t actually create measurable business impact. This is what Telia is trying to avoid – the innovation theatre!

We have collaborated with Telia through our pretotyping consultancy and workshops. Now, the company is doing a job we have never experienced before – incorporating small experiments to make their innovation process more efficient and customer-centric. Truly world-class! 

Our co-founder Tim Vang recently spoke to Claus Berthou Madsen, Head of Prototype at Telia Company, to talk about the company’s innovation journey to a more experimental approach. Telia is a multinational telecommunications company present in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

“Every time we look at a case, we don’t want to look at solutions. Instead, we look at the problem or the opportunity space. And then we throw 10, 15, or 20 different solutions at it. And we experiment in the market to understand which one performs the best. ”

– Claus Berthou Madsen, Head of Prototype at Telia Company

Telia began its journey to becoming more agile and data-driven in the way they innovate and built a process around small experiments to test different solutions before building a new product. When an idea is presented to the company, the process begins by conducting a quick market test in a given time period. This is to assess the initial market interest in the idea. According to Claus, it is a good place for people not to fall in love with their ideas, as the decision to either kill or move forward with the product is based on data and data alone. The process is swift and they learn as they move forward.

Another key success factor of implementing this structure is fostering a “fail fast, learn even faster” culture within the organization.

“One thing is that we have a really structured governance, so everything stays within the governance. I don’t make decisions, the data make the decisions. So if the data is not right, you can’t simply go through the process. So that’s the first step, saying that if you can’t validate, you will not go further.. And it’s not the big boss that says so, it’s the data.”

– Claus Berthou Madsen, Head of Prototype at Telia Company

He also shared some suggestions to companies that are planning to incorporate small experiments into their innovation structure. As a start, Claus highlighted that is essential to have the right people in your team with the right skills. The key element for this innovation structure is agility. In order to eliminate resource waste (such as time, money, and effort), people in the team need to be able to take a large idea concept and narrow it down to a testable setup, where only key factors of an idea are presented to the public as part of the experiment. The market experiments begin at the very early stages of innovation – when an idea first comes to light. And the process moves fast and you learn as you move forward. Additionally, he stated how having the support of the higher management can encourage change on an organizational level, where proper structure and governance are required within the organization. Lastly, and to quote Claus, “you need to be driven as hell.”

Learn more in the video. Tim (pree.to co-founder) and Claus discussed the process, challenges, and key success factors of incorporating small experiments in the organization’s innovation structure and approach. They also talked about how the new structure has been benefiting the company and has made them innovate faster.

About pree.to

pree.to is a specialized innovation partner that experiments with ideas in the market, and do it lightning-fast… in a flash! We offer a full-service solution, designed to help you systematically filter out bad ideas. These bad ideas do not have market potential, and thus, should not consume any more of your company’s resources.

We also offer workshops and talks, where we advise and teach companies, entrepreneurs, investors, and many others about the experimental innovation approach through small experiments.