For more than twenty years, a small team of experts in San Francisco has been spotting technologies, trends, and partners to provide the Group’s Business Segments with fresh ideas, new contacts, and potential opportunities. The watchwords in their work? Curiosity and agility. Welcome to Winnovation!
By Isabelle Godar
On the thirteenth floor of the WeWork2, the Winnovation team has installed its offices. In a meeting room overlooking Salesforce Park, Clément Anthonioz-Blanc, CEO of the consulting firm, and Viviane André, an analyst specialized in building construction, are making a Teams presentation to Edward Bouygues, chairman of Bouygues Telecom and the Group’s Deputy CEO and head of Innovation and Sustainability.
In California, a quest as intense as the Gold Rush in underway, with innovations, not nuggets, as the prize. A city of tantalizing promises, a magnet for the daring and adventurous, a cradle of nonconformity, San Francisco was a natural to become the gateway to Silicon Valley, a technological and sociological laboratory for the world. The boldest thinkers and most innovative companies on the planet have made this city and the surrounding Bay Area their home. No surprise, then, that it is the birthplace of today’s most powerful businesses – GAFA1, LinkedIn, Twitter, Netflix and the like.
In the United States, substantial investments are being made in the construction industry in digitalization, robotization and industrialization”
“Elon Musk has begun manufacturing tunnel boring machines with a new venture, The Boring Company, while Alphabet, the parent of Google, is working on Smart Cities projects.” Market trends, competitors’ new moves, partnership opportunities… the presentation covers a wide range of topics. This is one of the essential roles of the four-person tracking unit created twenty years ago by Bouygues Telecom.
In 2002, a group of “Frenchies” debarked in San Francisco with no contacts and no offices, just the mission to meet with tech start-ups. The aim was to help Bouygues Telecom make decisions about its structure at the dawn of the mobile Internet. Winnovation progressively broadened the scope of its activities to construction and media. It accompanied delegations from the Group to the CES electronics trade show in Las Vegas and on learning expeditions to identify start-ups and innovative companies for Bouygues management and decision-makers in the Business Segments. The office also does studies on specific subjects on request. “We keep a close eye on all the new trends and disruptive innovations. We want to spot the ones that will play key roles in the coming years and anticipate their impact on our activities,” explains Clément Anthonioz-Blanc.
We keep a close eye on all the new trends ans disruptive innovations.
Research and pitches
On the Stanford campus, classes are out for the day, and students on bikes and hoverboards stream up and down Main Quad Avenue. This university in the heart of Silicon Valley has a history of producing entrepreneurs. The founders of Hewlett-Packard, Google, ans Nike all went to school here. Lou Sacchettini, a Ph.D student who is doing research on 4.0 construction is on full-time assignment at Stanford. It is an ideal lookout for the Group. “All the players who gravitate around Stanford are innovation leaders,” he notes. “Bouygues Construction is a member of the CIFE1, which allows us to communicate with companies all over the wolrd and to participate in the transformation of the industry.” Winnovation has thus developed ties with the local team from Goldbeck, a German company that specializes in industrialized construction. “The feedback they get has valuable lessons for us” notes André.
Back downtown, the offices of Glynn Capital offer a bird’s eye view of Chinatown, one of the oldest Chinese quarters outside of China. This investment fund has invited Winnovation to meet the representatives of five start-ups. “Glynn Capital is interested in having a French group’s opinion of these fledgling companies, while we are on the lookout for possible future partners even if we do not have incubation program any longer” says Anthonioz-Blanc. During the pitches, Adrien Mallecourt, the innovation analyst for the media sector, questions the head of Hive, a scale-up1 that is using artificial intelligence to automate the interpretation of video, image, text, and audio content. “Since the arrival of the big streaming platforms, which are offering new consumer models with SVOD5, AVOD6 and Fast8, things are moving at a feverish pace in the media sector here”, notes Mallecourt, who was formerly with TF1. “A lot of players are coming into the market, and we’re interested to see how the traditional channels are adapting.” Later in the day, Mallecourt sits with a camera connected to a TV set and a remote control in his hand, dissecting the new interface of Hulu, an online, subscriber-based, video-on-demand platform. “I film myself at each step of the process and then send eos might be a source of inspiration that will help improve the user experience on MyTF1.”
Drawing on this ten years of experience at Bouygues Telecom, Anthonioz-Blanc is analyzing trends in the telecom market. One observation: in the United States, mobile phone subscription prices are in the vicinity of 70 dollars a month. “That’s much more expensive than in France,” exclaims Winnovation’s CEO. “Operators in the US have succeeded in increasing revenue per user by moving upmarket and partnering with content providers like Spotify, for example.” Anthonioz-Blanc relies on multiple sources to do his tracking:
″We talk regulary with the American operators. It is a win-win exchange. They are interested in our experience with Bbox 4G router. They are only just beginning to develop something comparable to make up for late rollout of fiber.”
On the 61st floor of the Salesforce Tower, the atmosphere is studious but relaxed. Salesforce proudly bills itself as an advocate of “new ways of working”. Winnovation has come for a talk with this customer relations partner of Bouygues Immobilier and Bouygues Telecom. “We are in regular contact with GAFA to learn about their latest products and to keep track of fast-developing technologies like the metaverse8, lNFTs 9, blockchain10, and others,” comments Anthonioz-Blanc. “But we also want to learn about new processes and original ways or organizing work that might be of interest to the Group’s human resources departments.” There is always something innovative and exciting happening in Silicon Valley. And it is always on Winnovation’s radar screen.
We are in regular contact with GAFA to learn about their latest products and to keep track of fast-developing technologies like the metaverse, NFTs, blockchain
1. Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon
2. A company that rents shared office spaces in many of the world’s major cities
3. Based at Stanford, the Center for Integrated Facility Engineering (CIFE) is a research center for academic and industry researches. It was a pionner in the development of digital modeling
4. A scale-up is the next stage after a start-up: it has determined its business model and has its first customers
5. Subscription Video On Demand
6. Advertising Video On Demand = video streaming that contains advertising and its free to users
7. Free Ad Supported Streaming TV
8. The metaverse is a future version of the Internet in which virtual, shared spaces are viewed with augmented reality services
9. NFT (Non-Fungible Token) is a new form of cryptocurrency based on digital art and collectible objects
10. The blockchain is a technology for storing and transmitting data in a transparent, secure manner and without a central control apparatus