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We're focused on offering products that solve everyday problems: Stephen A Elop

Interview with President and Chief Executive Officer, Nokia

Business Standard 

In an interview with PwC, Stephen A Elop, president and chief executive officer of Nokia, talks about the company's opportunities and challenges. Elop was one of the 1,330 business leaders who participated in PwC's 16th Annual Global CEO Survey. Edited excerpts:

How would you evaluate your organisation's ability to adapt and change to disruptive events?

We're focused on offering products that solve everyday problems, such as the desire to capture great photos on your smartphone, no matter the lighting conditions - indeed this is an area we intend to disrupt. That may sound like a simple example, but when you look at the patterns of disruption, particularly in the area of technology, it's often something relatively focused, relatively simple that allows you as a person to do something you couldn't do before, or to do it faster or more efficiently.

What is happening inside your organisation that enables you to be agile and respond to those opportunities?
We have adopted a whole series of classical management techniques to drive nimbleness, to drive responsiveness. But there's something far more important and that is the changing culture of the company. And we have highlighted three specific behaviours that we expect from both our employees and leaders. The first of those is accountability: knowing those things for which you're responsible, taking accountability for the decisions, making sure that you address problems as they arise in your area of accountability.

The second is urgency. What decision can you make today instead of tomorrow? How can we take a process that used to take 10 days and get it into nine and then seven and then five? And the third is empathy, which is a polite way of saying, 'don't be arrogant'. Listen to your consumers, listen to the partners we have, listen to the employees, assess what you agree with, what you disagree with but be aware of what's going on around you and respond appropriately.

What are the global dynamics that are most important for your own growth prospects and what impact are they having on the organisation?
Clearly, in the world today a whole variety of threats are looming, such as the European We're heading towards the fiscal cliff, and we don't know if there truly is a cliff or what will happen if we go over it. is also subject to the threat of changing government approaches and regulations, with some countries becoming more inwardly focused and standing in the way of consumers making certain purchases and doing what they want to do in the marketplace.

What do you see as the biggest threat or concern for you in the next 12 months?
On a micro level, the biggest threat for us is always the next disruption around the corner. On the macro level, you can list all of the different economic issues, including the financial threats in Europe and the United States, but if you look across all of these various challenges, the common threat is to the extent to which business leaders and government leaders cannot reach a reasonable conclusion to do the right thing.

What sort of goals are you prioritising besides growth per se?
One of our principal strategies, particularly in emerging markets, is to connect the next billion people to the Internet. Think about a billion people who for the first time have access to better information about crop pricing or how to raise their children or how to improve their health and welfare.

How are new stakeholders influencing your organisation and your business planning?
We invest a great deal of time with developers to encourage them to work with us and to do so in a way that both makes money for them and of course that helps us to create a better experience for our consumers.

The second class of stakeholder that I would argue is different now than it was even a few years ago, is the consumer himself or herself. One of the key capabilities that delivers with its devices is a collection of location-based services around mapping, navigation and augmented reality.

Indeed, in a number of countries including emerging markets, we have individual consumers who recognise that their neighbourhood has never been mapped, and so they contribute information on it. Thus our consumers are not only consuming but they're also contributing, enabling us to establish a different form of relationship with them than we had even a few years ago.

First Published: Tue, March 12 2013. 00:16 IST