Telia Company’s Division X is one of the more compelling CSP IoT success stories. Originally launched with a mission to find ‘radical’ new business models that exceed industry averages, they’ve certainly succeeded. Their revenue is growing at an incredible 20% YoY – and already 40% comes from non-connectivity sources.

I recently had the pleasure of spending time with Division X’s Björn Hansen, Head of IoT, and Kristofer Ågren, Head of Data Insights, to learn more about the secret of their success. We covered how they’re using IoT and data insights to redefine their enterprise offerings, create partner ecosystems focused on outcomes and how it’s helping transform their customer engagement.

There’s a lot to learn from Björn and Kristofer and their experience of running Division X’s IoT and Data Insight business. It’s all in our podcast, but there were a few points that really stood out to me as we talked.

The independence to explore

Division X was created as a standalone business to Telia Company and given the freedom to experiment with new growth engines. They’re able to trial new technologies and develop new business strategies without being restrained by Telia’s operational model and KPIs. If there’s any stipulation, it’s that everything Division X focuses on must have a clear path to scale.

It’s about customers, not technology

For a company focused on new IoT growth opportunities, this may seem strange to announce. But, every use case is about solving their enterprise customers’ problems within the context of their vertical. Björn points out that, rather than focusing on technology capabilities, Division X flips the discussion to focus on the desired outcome. What are you looking to achieve? How will that improve your operations? Start with the outcome, and work backwards from that.

"Smartness is only smart, if it solves a real problem."

Kristofer Ågren, Head of Data Insights

Move beyond connectivity to find new data insights

Division X is unique in their approach to data. They spotted the strategic importance of combining data and AI to solve their customers’ problems at an early stage, creating a dedicated team and platform to provide insights. As Kristofer points out, AI is simply a set of new tools and capabilities for companies to draw on. However, with annotated data insights, there’s a need to tread carefully around what an algorithm recommends. You need ‘explainability’, an emerging area within AI, to ensure customers understand the logic and analytics at play. This view – rather than a belief of AI as an omniscient savior – is what sets Division X’s approach apart.

The key to a scalable IoT business – build horizontally, sell vertically

Using a horizontal architecture, and orchestrating a partner ecosystem to deliver the required outcome, lets Division X create cross-vertical platform offerings and avoid becoming caught in the detail of custom builds.

They give an example of a partner ecosystem created for a smart building. Sensors in the building can help manage the heating, but also look at how people use the building, and even daily, external weather can help create a better outcome. Combining these data sources can help keep heating bills down. And it demonstrates Kristofer’s point that ‘Smartness is only smart if it actually solves a real problem’.

“Spot your lemons early”

This is where Björn makes his final observation. ‘You need to be able to spot those lemons early’, he says, explaining that Division X experiments and tests ideas fast, to identify the ‘use cases that don't have business cases’ – and to ensure that they don’t waste time pursuing them.

To hear more about Division X’s incredible success, listen to our Accelerators podcast now.

  • Michal Harris
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