Unlocking the power of partnership in innovation

Technology is moving at speed, creating new experiences and driving up demand. To maximize the opportunities that the digital economy is opening up, businesses need to innovate fast and at scale. This is where the power of partnerships comes in – small as well as big.

Today we are finding ourselves working with a vast range of vendors, from big multinationals to small start-ups. This robust ecosystem of partnerships is fundamental in evolving products and services. Why? Because we accept we can’t do it all on our own.

Partnering with many for digital advancement

Of course we have traditional partnerships with the big tech giants. These global partnerships with big suppliers are of course important, but they are by their very nature slower, with contracts taking longer to put in place.

Increasingly we are looking to work with specialized, small and regional partners as well. Partners that are not only nimble, but bring with them a unique component to a service. Components that the big companies can’t supply. We created a health and safety solution, for example, to alert workers to heavy machinery around them. We developed the software and transport the data but source the sensors from a highly specialist company in Russia.

These kinds of partnerships aren’t limited to start-ups either. We also actively seek out, align and work with academia, government and smaller companies to transform industries and grow economies. Orange Business, for example, has recently partnered with the non-profit organization Far East Investment Promotion and Export Support Agency (ANO APO) to work on smart cities in the Far Eastern Federal District and the Arctic Region of Russia. The partnership will also accelerate digitization in uninterrupted communications, data security and telemedicine.

In another non-technical partnership, Orange Business has linked up with Sberbank on smart cities. Here, Sberbank will provide the initial strategy along with operational and financial support, while we will bring our international and regional smart cities experience to the table, including Multisourcing Service Integration (MSI) and software development knowledge.

In the Far East, we have partnered with the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) to explore new value-add services for customers of Abu Dhabi government services, in which we play a pivotal role as integrator for co-innovated, customized solutions.

Targeting the different and unique

We are looking for unique components where we can add our expertise to quickly bring truly innovative solutions to market.

Many companies in Russia, for example, have developed some very smart technology, but it is niche. We know how to integrate it into compliant products and solutions that work for our customers and help solve specific challenges. At the same time, they are safe in the knowledge that these solutions and services will benefit from our continuous support.

We can provide these small, inventive companies with the scalability to open up new markets. To develop a customized fuel monitoring IoT solution for the maritime industry, for example, we partnered with Technodar, a Russian specialist in fuel consumption monitoring systems and satellite transport monitoring. Or take VisionLabs, a visual recognition company based out of Moscow that builds a biometric platform to identify people by face, voice and retina recognition technologies, who we have helped to put on the global stage and demoed its capabilities in our Dubai offices.

Seeking out premium partnerships in Russia

Our commitment to partnering with innovative companies of all shapes and sizes is reflected in Orange Fab, the Orange Group’s international accelerator for start-ups, which recently opened its first program in Russia.

Our Orange Fab at Skolkovo, a Russian hi-tech business hub that boasts 1,800+ start-ups, is designed to accelerate the development of start-ups in Russia and beyond. There are now 18 Orange Fabs around the world, including in the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Israel.

The Orange Fab in Russia, which is the first to be managed by Orange Business, will focus on artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, IoT solutions, next-generation networks and cloud technologies. Co-innovation is at the center of our Fab operations, working with large customers to solve real world business challenges.

Many start-ups, particularly in Russia, have some great technology, but need assistance in bringing it to market. This is where we can work together to solve global business challenges across industries. Through Orange Fab, we help start-ups to enter real pilot projects without making it look like a training exercise.

Growing business through partnerships

The digital age is founded on transformation, disruption and flux. This means companies must be open to multiple partnerships of all sizes to gain a competitive advantage. But this isn’t as simple as it sounds.

Creative partnerships require a mind shift. Companies must be able to combine skills and capabilities to bring the very best to market. Remember, it isn’t about who has the biggest piece of the cake, but fundamentally what can be achieved together.

Find out more about the way we innovate at Orange Business.

Richard Van Wageningen

Richard van Wageningen is CEO of Orange Business in Russia and CIS and is the Head the IMEAR (Indirect, Middle East, Africa and Russia) region. He has extensive leadership experience in the IT and telecommunications industries – both in services and equipment manufacturing – and holds degrees from Groningen State Polytechnics and the University of North Carolina. Richard has lived in Russia for more than 10 years and speaks fluent Russian.