Innovation is intrinsic to the ICT sector at all levels, from the platform layer of infrastructure to service and content provision, devices and, increasingly, business models. The correlation between innovation and sector growth is undisputed.

  • Innovation is increasingly user driven and content focused. Users themselves are empowered as innovators; understanding and responding to the needs of users (whether individuals or small companies) is vital.
  • Focus on the local: ground innovation in the local community and its specific needs, establishing local success before adapting for global use. Or customize services and infrastructure to take into account the specificities of local environment, demography, geography and economics.
  • Be aware of reverse innovation: smaller and emerging markets are increasingly important in driving innovation, in part due to the prevalence of open source development and light regulation.
  • A balanced, light touch approach to regulation is essential to foster innovation. Regulating the context, not the content, means focusing on well-functioning competition and ensuring consumer needs. Regulation must change to respond to changed realities.
  • Dynamic new areas of innovation include:
    • The huge potential of big data: to enable better understanding of the end user, to develop data analytics and to exploit data as a consumer asset.
    • Cross-sector services, applications and content (calling for complex, multi-mandate regulation) and cross-border activities will introduce new players and opportunities.
    • Government and public services as a driver of the digital economy, procurer and source of innovation in the user interface.
    • Cloud-based services to increase international innovation.
    • Digital natives – the youth of the world as key users, innovators and developers. The reality on the ground may be very remote to the experienced upper echelons of most telcos.
  • Fostering innovation involves:
    • Investment in science to create innovation in technology.
    • Development of e content and e skills from the top to the bottom of the pyramid.
    • Ensure consumer trust and e security.
    • Release funding from public private partnerships; share costs and risks through industry collaborations; frugal innovation with higher-value, better distribution.
    • Fundamentals of innovation remain incubation of talent and human capital, the serendipitous meeting of minds, and the support of venture capital to bring to market.
  • Open source development is “the primary facilitator tool for innovation”; regulatory and business communities worldwide should be made aware of the huge socio-economic benefits enabled by this collaborative platform.