Open innovation: a success factor

Swisscom recognises the importance of maintaining a dialogue with customers, employees, suppliers and other partners, as this enables a continuous, open process of innovation with the focus on customers and their needs. When developing new products and services, Swisscom consistently adopts human-centred design methods, i.e. the user-oriented design of simple, inspiring experiences that help customers find their way in the networked world.

Within the company, Swisscom practises and promotes decentralised product development. As a result, new ideas are generated throughout the company. Various events and platforms provide employees with the opportunity to exchange trendsetting ideas and familiarise themselves with best practice examples. One example of this is the Innovation Week held twice a year, during which teams of employees from different divisions implement a new idea that addresses a specific customer need, is of business relevance and has potential on the market. Moreover, Swisscom supports internal pioneers through the Kickbox programme, which provides interested employees with the tools (including starting credit, a timeframe as well as the contact details of innovation experts) required for developing an idea into a prototype.

Outside the company, Swisscom promotes innovation throughout the industry. In particular, Swisscom is committed to supporting young companies that offer new, progressive solutions in the fields of IT, communications and entertainment. Swisscom participates in start-ups as a project partner and investor, supports them by providing tailored products and services, and offers them access to infrastructures and markets. Since 2013, Swisscom has held the StartUp Challenge competition, where winners are sent on a one-week mentoring programme in Silicon Valley. In June 2016, Swisscom announced that it was stepping up its collaboration with FinTech start-ups: a FinTech cluster within Swisscom institutionalises the cooperationwith start-up companies in the financial industry. Swisscom Ventures is also being expanded with a dedicated FinTech fund of over CHF 10 million. Using this fund, Swisscom is making targeted investments in promising FinTech start-ups and is pressing ahead with collaborations in innovative digital banking services. In autumn of this year, Swisscom launched the “Call for Innovation”, as part of which it contracted out specific ICT questions for the international start-up community to answer. Selected start-ups have the opportunity to present their solutions to a panel of experts, and the winning project will work on a joint test project with Swisscom.

Swisscom has been operating in Silicon Valley since 1998, with its branch offices running targeted trend and technology scouting operations and helping to remain at the forefront of technological development via collaborations with start-ups.


Innovation platforms

Swisscom plays an active role in shaping Switzerland’s future. Its commitment to fostering an innovative and competitive Switzerland is reflected in the backing it gives to a whole variety of projects. Swisscom supports Switzerland’s role as a research centre by making investments and engaging in partnerships with universities and institutions. For example, it funds the chair of Professor Adrian Perrig, head of the network security group at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, thereby making an important contribution to information security in Switzerland.

As a partner of the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Swisscom enables research work to be performed in the areas of human activity and the smart home (“intelligent living”) as well as “5G for Switzerland”. The partnership involves the provision of financial support for selected projects, the establishment of the “Digital Lab” (a competence centre for digitisation at the EPFL Innovation Park), and various other campus activities, such as events dealing with digitisation.

Swisscom is also a partner of the Swiss Innovation Park and is closely involved in guiding this long-term project as a member of the Board of Trustees. Through its participation in the regional innovAARE Park, Swisscom is supporting research in the field of energy.

Finally, Swisscom is a founding member of the Digital Switzerland initiative (previously known as Digital Zurich 2025), the aim of which is to position Switzerland as an attractive location for start-ups. Swisscom also supports initiatives such as Impact Hub Zurich as well as incubators such as BaseCamp4HighTech, and in doing so cultivates a dynamic environment for start-ups.

Enabling services

Swisscom hopes to make its software technologies and infrastructure elements internally available by means of a strongly service-oriented procedure. It is confident of pressing ahead with the development of future software solutions through standardisation and a self-service approach. By offering its developers all of the key working bases – from programming interfaces and hosting all the way to technical support – “as a service”, Swisscom is making its internal processes considerably more streamlined, faster and cost-effective.