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Startups and Multinationals Combine as Innovation Flourishes

Despite high expectations for startup companies to uproot how we think about the ICT industry, it appears that the culture has integrated into the market while innovation is becoming a crucial factor that every layer of a company must implement.

Being one of the cornerstones of all strategies created by Hungarian ICT giant T-Systems Hungary, the culture of innovation has to be integrated not only into the planning, but also into the everyday life of the management, and indeed colleagues at all levels, T-Systems tells the Budapest Business Journal.

“Multinational companies working in a highly-affected industry like information technology learned well that offering state-of-the-art technology can only be genuine if they not only develop, own and sell new technology, but they also literally live by it,” Klementina Krégl, head of innovation at T-Systems Hungary, says.

Just a few years ago when the startup culture was first growing, the era was often regarded as disruptive, with expectations that startups would shake the world of the global companies. However, over time it has become clear that the future does not solely belong to such companies alone; they often need to be allied with big companies and bind the constructive force and the global network together.

“Take a huge, slow ship, an often-used image of a large global company, and think of it as an aircraft carrier, housing many pursuit planes that can take off in an instant, covering large distances and discovering all the new possibilities. Technologies brought in-house can boost the original startups as well as strengthen the mother ship that secures and nurtures the whole joint effort,” T-Systems writes in a statement sent to the BBJ.

According to the company, what appears to be “science fiction” today can easily become reality tomorrow, and in the blink of the eye it can make the technology of yesterday obsolete.

“This requires that we know the current pains and hidden fears of our customers and provide solutions right now. In order to be able to deliver the answers today, we have to be one – or even more – step ahead when developing, researching and piloting solutions and services,” says Krégl.

What’s Cooking?

On the lines of this logic, T-Systems recently launched its innovation lab called Kitchen Budapest (or KiBu), which incorporates functions including research and development (design, prototyping, testing), education (next generation programs) and collaboration of different startups.

Artificial intelligence, for example, is not sci-fi anymore; slowly but steadily it is becoming reality, and T-Systems says it sees great potential in it. The same applies for solutions based on virtual reality and Big Data, and networks like 5G and Narrowbrand-Internet of Things (NB-IoT).

“The NB-IoT network is a great example of how large companies can work together with innovation centers and with the startup scene. NB-IoT is sufficient for the low bandwidth requirement of many IoT uses in industrial, public and consumer domains; its unique advantages are low cost, low energy and deep indoor penetration,” the statement by T-Systems Hungary says.

The company is close to launching a partner program based on Magyar Telekom’s existing NB-IoT network covering Budapest. With KiBu and the partner program, T-Systems intends to invite its partners — including external partners — to test the new network, which means they will also be able to test and develop their own technologies.

“You would never have thought that machine vision and deep learning enables us to halve the time needed to assemble machines and tools,” Krégl says.

“Another digitalization direction based on big data is the Real Time Location System (RTLS) that is able to collect and analyze real-time information and that can utilize data without a human interface. Digital technology saves us time and resources, but it can also save lives: one of the mentoring projects of the Kitchen Budapest team last year was a program that, by using drones and mobile applications, significantly enhances the precision of life-saving missions during disasters,” she adds.

This regular column, run in association with Audi, looks at how some of Hungary’s biggest companies involve innovation in their daily practice.