Telefónica: Open Innovation Means Kissing Many Frogs to Find a Few Princes and Princesses

The mobile revolution has unleashed waves of innovation that have transformed the way we work and live in little more than a decade. Behind all of this change are the major operators like Telefónica, who have driven a revolution on an unprecedented scale.

We are delighted to announce that a gamechanger like Telefónica is joining the world’s most influential startup event once again. Here we catch up with the Global Entrepreneurship Director at Telefónica, Miguel Arias, to hear about the future of telco, his role as a disruptor and the importance of fast fails.

1. What are you talking about at the conference?

It is clear that perpetual reinvention is needed for big corporates to survive in this world of continuous technological change and successful open innovation means kissing many frogs to find a few princes and princesses! We are fostering a cultural mindset shift, so that our whole organization is able to take more risks and bet on startups to create disruption.

During the conference you may listen: “We scale startups”, is our new motto. We focus in tech startups which fit Telefonica’s strategic interests, for joint business generation. We can help with Tech expertise, with access to partners, with Sales channels and customers. We can also give access to our global platforms, from IoT to our routers through open APIs and enable access to our customers worldwide. Telefonica Open Innovation area currently operates in 16 countries spread over three continents and has a portfolio of over 400 active startups across the globe, more than 20% of them are doing business with Telefonica.

2. What are you passionate about?

As Global Entrepreneurship Director at Telefónica I have the opportunity to dedicate my energy, creativity and enthusiasm towards creating an interface between startups and a big telco as Telefónica. I believe that entrepreneurs always seek to change the way they do things and open innovation creates a ripple effect besides just the generation of new revenue streams or operational efficiency savings, which goes further enabling Tech discovery, cultural change, institutional and corporate relations, etc.
I also like hiking freely in the mountains!

3. If you weren’t doing your current job, what would your dream job title be?

Chief Change Maker – in whatever organization, no matter the size which tries to make a dent in the world.

4. What is the future of your field?

Voice interfaces, robotics, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT)… will redefine the world we are living in. As innovation is constantly challenging the established norms, we will see more and more corporations learning how to be more agile and help startups to scale-up. We are living a perfect storm where AI meets IoT meets Decentralized networks meets low latency broadband Connectivity, which marks the beginning of an era.

5. Why is it so important?

As entrepreneur you need committed partners and global impact. In Telefónica, the very best start-ups within our portfolio have unparalleled access to our global network of 350 million customers and clients in 24 countries.

6. What are your favourite sayings (they can be your own)? Words to live by?

No risk, no game! It is important to take risks to achieve things.

7. What does the world look like in 50 years?

We will have autonomous cars, I believe my daughters will most probably not learn how to drive. We will have intelligent homes with voice based and robotic assistants which will help us in our daily routines and tasks. We will use new forms of energy and have new ways of fighting disease and enhance our bodies and mind capabilities. While we will face challenges on our political, social structures where we will need to regulate new advancements and relationships modes as we go, to ensure technology serves humanity for good.


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