I was reading one of the comments and led me to wonder, what was Stephen Elop, ex Nokia CEO doing now? I met him some years ago as Nokia community ambassador in Finland, Nokia House. It was still a hopeful time of what Nokia could do in the ever changing market.
Last I heard (as I stopped blogging for a while) he was at MS when Nokia devices and services was purchased. It turns out, he’s now at Telstra (we made a post recently about Teltra shutting down their 2G network, makes sense now eh haha, joke). He’s been there for 9 months now.
Elop gives an interesting speech about disruption and transformation. It’s somewhat quite similar to what we’ve heard from the past, just tailored more towards the Telstra audience. He says either:
- you are the disrupting entity
- are agents of transformation or
- transformation is thrust upon you under difficult circumstances.
I agree that technology industries are constantly faced with such disruption and it is about how do they anticipate the change, how do they counter a change and if they’re lucky enough, how do they advance a change ahead of everyone else? How do we change the rules but make sure everyone still wants to play the same game? It’s a simple analogy yet is the strongest one that sticks in my mind. You may have others :).
Elop shares his background at Macromedia, Microsoft and the difficult period of Nokia. Of course, amongst Nokia fans, he is well known for his burning platform memo.
Feb 11 when Nokia made a spectacular turn around, against their own software and even against that of google, and went with funnily enough, an unproven mobile option, Windows. All the details are slightly hazy now. I remember some parts making sense and some parts being utterly “wtf is this, are they purposely imploding”. Even at the time things were highly subjective to interpretation. Either way…Let’s keep any comments polite please :).
He attributes the iPhone disruption not because of features but because of a profound new usability of touch interfaces. He describes Nokia as a company turned upside down but even with that, Elop proudly informs that ‘fast forward to today, Nokia is the largest market cap company in Finland, back to where it was 2 years before the iPhone showed up”. He aknowledges that is surprising news so reels off Nokia’s changes in the past from a paper mill company, to making rubber boots etc. He says Nokia was ‘really big on phones for a while”. I don’t know if he was joking, given that this was the biggest understatement to call the number 1 manufacturer of mobile phones and smartphones “being big on phones for a while” and now Nokia is about “network equipment”.
Some may question whether this was the original plan from the start. Knowing Elop’s backgrounds in ‘transformation’, did they know that the likely outcome would be an exit from the handset industry?
Elop says that truly great companies self assess and does what’s necessary to thrive and transform even better than what they were before.
Elop laughs about the above companies sharing the common fact that they’re now gone. Some collapsed becoming irrelevant, some acquired, faded away, others out in ‘flaming balls of corruption’. He notes 88% of companies in fortune 500 from 1955 are gone.
Nokia is doing well in the telecoms. They’re a bit lighter now that HERE is gone (oddly, one of the main reasons given at the time for choosing WP over Android :/) but as we know, there’s a revival of Nokia smartphones coming. They might not be exactly what we expect but it’s a direction that once looked completely out of the question.