Open innovation: a success factor

Swisscom recognises the importance of maintaining a dialogue with customers, employees, suppliers and other partners, since 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 digital 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 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 cooperation with 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 2016, Swisscom launched the “Calls 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 operated in Silicon Valley since 1998. Its branch offices run targeted trend and technology scouting operations and help to remain at the forefront of technological development via collaborations with start-ups.