A series of web pages on the France Telecom/Orange site give an insight in how the company moves from the many ideas that come out of R&D, to a product or service that is ready for the market.

In 2005-2006, France Telecom created two structures, the Explocentre and the Technocentre, which work in close collaboration with the R&D laboratories installed all over the world, but are run by the Strategic Marketing Department, which provides the group’s orientations and knowledge of the market.

The Explocentre is an “incubator for R&D projects” and “concentrates on nurturing highly innovative concepts with strong potential, but that could be deemed too risky to be placed directly on the market”. The Explocentre determines their feasibility and potential, and tests new uses and technological breakthroughs before market launch. Interestingly, the centre works with “new methods based on co-creation with customers and partners, using design to drive innovation. Ideas for services are investigated, tested and re-worked with customers to find real value potential.”

Once explored, the most promising concepts are submitted to the Technocentre, which deals with the implementation of these “mature” projects. The Technocentre is responsible for turning them into products ready for the market, either by industrialising them for a commercial launch or by transferring to a spin-off or joint venture for development. The centre brings together around 30 teams consisting of a marketing specialist, a researcher and a network engineer.

So at the one end of France Telecom’s innovation chain there are ideas coming in from R&D, and the company’s industrial partners and employees. Those ideas with high development potential go to the exploration centre, where they are analysed and tested. The integrated strategic marketing in the innovation chain then takes over marketing the product within the technocentre. Finally, agreed projects are integrated into the Group’s Product Roadmap and 3-year plan, which is the other end of its innovation process.