PARIS – The Ng Connect Program describes itself as consortium of global leaders and innovators in infrastructure, devices, applications and content, dedicated to the idea that collaboration will speed up the successful deployment of the next generation of high-bandwidth services. Many people associate Ng Connect with the connected car exhibited recently at a number of industry events and trade shows. John Dillon, VP of marketing for Alcatel-Lucent’s Software, Services and Solutions portfolios, oversees Ng Connect, and recently spoke with RCR Wireless News in Paris.
Ng Connect’s key focus is innovation. Dillon states clearly that for this to happen “creating an ecosystem that includes companies that are outside of the traditional telecoms industry is key.” This is the reason Alcatel-Lucent chose to sponsor Ng Connect. Dillon says that Alcatel-Lucent’s customers themselves wanted help with driving innovation in vertical markets and wanted to work on methodologies for achieving innovation.
The Ng Connect ecosystem includes large corporations such as Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. as well as startups and companies from key vertical markets such as the automobile industry and retail. This enables dialogue between different companies that would not have come together otherwise and has resulted in defining new business models, products and services.
The outreach program includes setting up “gravity centers,” the first one of which opened in Dallas and the second of which is opening in Paris this week. Alcatel-Lucent has offered free office space to startup companies that are involved with Ng Connect. Ng Connect has also launched programs with universities, nurturing ideas from students and helping them to design products and bring them to market. Alcatel-Lucent has also been willing to share intellectual property, and although they will not necessarily invest in all products or startup companies, Dillon says Alcatel-Lucent has been willing to make introductions to third parties, industry contacts and investors.
Companies have been attracted to Ng Connect because any idea that comes out of the group does not belong to any one company in particular. Company lawyers have been kept at arms length for this reason, although Dillon admits that this has been a challenge.
So what is in it for Alcatel-Lucent? Ng Connect is associated with all that is up and coming in the telecom industry. This puts Alcatel-Lucent in a strong competitive position, especially in the vertical markets. The company also gets to keep abreast of future trends and technologies before they are launched, enabling it to make well informed strategic decisions and partner with companies that are essentially the future of this industry.