Masses of Innovation

Do the answers provided relate well to the category and convey a truly innovative approach?

Many of those nominated choose not go forward with their nomination and the extensive evaluation process. This says nothing about the store of innovation accumulated in their product. But it does speak to execution and opportunity. If nominated next year, I recommend expending the effort to fill out all of those questions. These answers speak to the quality of your company, vision and products. These are answers you need to succeed at business. It also provides extensive visibility through ongoing editorial coverage of innovative technical advancements, and to the judges who ultimately review and frequently buy products from the contestants.

There is a small fee for submitting an entry form to subsidize the cost of the program. And, as a result of their investment, contestants have won millions of dollars in new business opportunities through the exposure and validation the program provides. But this is not a lottery. The fees help cover the extensive effort made by Pipeline associates in reviewing these extensive entries, ensuring their quality for the award judges, and hosting a red-carpet awards reception in Nice, France, where the industry's innovators come together each year.

Award Categories

Awards are given for ten areas of innovation each year. Award winners receive a one of a kind, art-glass trophy and each category is backed up by an runner up who takes home a trophy of their own.  Categories include established and emerging technology fields. Established fields include Operational Support Systems, Business Support Systems, Network Technology, Managed Services, and Customer Experience Management. Emerging technology fields include Big Data and Analytics and Security & Assurance. New categories are established as new technologies become important to operators. As innovation comes, not just from small single product new entrants, but from established purveyors of many integrated solutions who have created a culture of innovation, there is also a category for Most Innovative Technology Provider.

Each year, Pipeline also recognizes the Most Innovative Operator and a runner up in this category as well. The pillar around which our value chain wraps is the service provider’s customers. Innovation is only a potential until it is integrated into the operation and services provided to a provider’s business customers and consumers of telecommunication and entertainment. Realizing the value of innovation is a significant effort. Often the service provider is a partner with the product supplier in refining the implementation and value of the product. Sometimes even the initial idea and the development are home grown. Service Providers pull everyone in the innovation flow forward.

Selection of Semi-Finalists

Companies respond by submitting questionnaires in the relevant categories they select.  Often a company enters several categories with different products. A team of Pipeline editors moderate various categories and divide up the responses from those companies. Then the working team reviews the entries. Many entries are evaluated by multiple reviewers. This is a huge task taking many weeks of work. Each entry contains dozens of detailed pages and takes several hours to review. Companies are invited to submit additional information which is also considered. 

I specifically say review because the Pipeline team does not evaluate the company or products. What the staff evaluates is the completeness and quality of the application.  Was the question answered? Did the nominated respondent understand the question?  Would the judges be annoyed with vacuous marketing speak? Were significant answers supplied? By significant, specifically, would a judge reading this answer understand what the company was communicating? Would they learn something? Is there enough information for the judge to evaluate the product using the Judge’s own specific criteria? Do the answers provided relate well to the category and convey a truly innovative approach? 

The moderators analytically score the completeness and quality of the response. Then the data is normalized to amplify both category-specific information and areas of innovation, while dampening other areas to ensure an even playing field for all competitors. Only the top two Semi-finalists with the highest scores are selected to move on to the Finalist level. This is an important filtering process because the time and thoughts of our judges are quite valuable. Judges consist of technical executives from influential companies, including companies like BT, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Vodafone this year. And reading 20 to 60 documents is a steep task. Only 10 percent of the nominated companies made it to the finalist level. Notably, many of the largest technologies faced off against nimble, new market entrants. And some of those fresh new competitors won.

This Year’s Innovation Entries

Operational Support Systems: Virtualization was a theme. Ericsson entered its Ericsson Cloud Manager 15.2.  In the providers transition to SDN and NFV, services will need to become cloud resident. Cloud manager uses SDN and virtualization technologies to “provides orchestration, management and monitoring of services running on geographically distributed” systems. NEC entered Netcracker 10 Operations Management. It leverages virtualization in the product. For providers, it supplies top to bottom management of hybrid infrastructure and services across physical and virtual platforms. Along the way it uses provides and uses analytics. Analytics were big this year in many categories. Subex’s Network Analytics provides “network intelligence and actionable insights for managing and optimizing network capex.” It employs “predictive and descriptive analytics across the entire network asset lifecycle combined with complex process management…”. Capex is better leveraged by decision makers that are provided with network intelligence, capacity analytics, and lifecycle analytics.


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