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“Mobile is a behaviour, not a product”, that is the view of Bob Schukai, Global Head of Mobile at Thomson Reuters. Following a recent Vodafone Innovation workshop with Thomson Reuters at our Silicon Valley office in California, we caught up with Bob to discuss innovations in communication technology, and how they are transforming enterprises across the world.

What does innovation mean to Thomson Reuters?

Innovation is more than thinking about how we can do things in the cloud. It’s how we rethink design, rethink business models, and rethink an experience that is beneficial for the enterprise and the end user. Our strength is providing trusted, high-quality, high-value information and a premium ‘information experience’. But that isn’t enough anymore. If you don’t present your information in a way that makes it easy for people to consume – and creates an experience people want to come back to – you’ve lost the battle. That’s why innovation is crucial.

What is the role of mobile apps within innovation?

A lot of today’s mobile innovation points back to the application store and the iPhone. At first, it was just consumer brands that ran with the smartphone revolution. Then tablets came along and it transformed everything. Suddenly there were all these great consumer applications that were adopted by business employees to make their work lives more productive. Whilst it caught enterprises – especially IT departments – a bit off guard, it did make us think about how we could best create solutions that recognise the individual consumer behind each enterprise user. I often ask people what their favourite apps are and no matter what the app is, people always smile when they talk about it! There’s an emotional connection that makes people want to come back again and again. For me, that’s what it’s all about – building that emotional connection.

What do you see as barriers to innovation in enterprises?

There is a natural reluctance that I think still exists in a lot of big enterprises. I feel they’re struggling with BYOD and how to manage consumerisation in a secure fashion. How do you deal with people using all these consumer-grade services to get work done? The fact that people put merger and acquisition documents in a personal cloud storage site terrifies them. By the same token, it shows we’ve got a need to solve this productivity problem. We need to be able to share documents easily in a repository and in the absence of the business providing a solution, we’re going to find our own. That’s where I think big enterprises like ourselves have to innovate very rapidly, to solve all these sorts of problems and make sure that the kind of solutions we offer to the market can get past the gatekeepers and the guy who is going to ask questions.

What prompted you to approach Vodafone Global Enterprise on the subject of innovation?

Three main reasons: Vodafone Global Enterprise’s international footprint; its history of innovation; and our mutual understanding around how mobile is changing the way people use technology. There’s a natural fit between our two organisations.

How did the innovation workshop help you?

During the workshop, we had the technical capability to actually see what a service would look like running on a particular network, in a particular country. What an amazing advantage! We discussed what drives and motivates customers and what technologies we can use to make them more productive and more effective. I think understanding this is fundamental to creating an indispensable product. What really speaks volumes about the effectiveness of this session however is that we walked away with concrete ideas to start working on: and we know we want to turn those ideas into a proof of concept. The minute you can actually build something, show it and start getting a reaction, that’s when the wheel starts spinning and when great things happen.

What new opportunities are you exploring, following the workshop?

We talked a lot about M2M technology. M2M is going to be huge and I think there is an enormous opportunity for people like us to come up with innovative solutions which can take advantage of the connectivity. We also discussed opportunities in emerging markets, where we’re working with a different generation of technology and are talking to a very mobile audience.

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