“What makes Silicon Valley so special for digital innovation?” Insights by Georges Nahon, Orange San Francisco

Georges Nahon is Corporate Vice President North America at Orange and CEO at Orange Labs San Francisco.

He has developed a strong track record in innovation, managing 70 people at Orange Labs, involving various skills such as scientists, engineers, sociologists, economists and designers... He also contributed to the “Global Village” book written by Didier Lombard, former Orange CEO.

French native, he has built a double vision on how innovation works in the US, and kindly accepted to answer a few questions about innovation as Silicon Valley core DNA .

What makes Silicon Valley so special for digital innovation?

It is a culture of constant rebellion against all sorts of establishments particularly in the information &  communication technology space. It is also  a profound  desire to have a major impact on the world who needs to be changed to be a better place. Good changes happen when things move fast dynamically.

SV is about an insatiable quest for non incremental innovation that will disrupt the existing world to do two things: (1) redirect some of the economic value disrupted to the venture capitalists who funded the disruption, and (2) make it a better place.

It is also a place where optimism, generosity, altruism and communities drive the behaviors rather than individualism, egocentricity and cynism.  The Valley places a premium on alternatives to top-down, hierarchical sources of support. Governmental subsidy is seen as toxic to innovation funded by private investors. Smart risks are the norm.


What developments have you witnessed in Digital Innovation Management in the past years (Open innovation, Co-creation, Fast prototyping and beta release, User experience focus …)?

The world is now the web. People are now at the center of the web as they are at the center of the real world.  There is clearly more happening bottom up as more people can share constantly more ideas across the world and across the walls of their companies.

There is a distortion that the web and the mobile technology have brought to the entire innovation space as creativity can be quickly turned into beta product and tested at scale given the huge and growing size of the web. In reality major disruptive innovations are not happening like that. They still require years of R&D and testing. And it still delivers new and interesting products. What has changed is that the social real time and mobile web is encouraging and generating all sorts of entrepreneurial innovations that are not based on the traditional vision of R&D. Both will continue to thrive but management of stakeholders’ patience is the new health indicator for innovation.

What disruptions do you anticipate and what are the challenges for Silicon Valley to remain a worldwide leader in term of digital innovation?

The Web has created an unprecedented situation in the history of humankind:  an avalanche of non structured information and data produced every second and made available continuously to the entire planet at little to no cost.

Managing these new information currents require a new approach to IT and networking and to data analysis and representation.

The era of Big Data is around us and will only get more pervasive and inevitable.

What do you plan to focus on in term of Innovation Management emerging trends?

Big data  in a mobile and real time world as the new knowledge infrastructure.

Georges Nahon, Orange San Francisco, February, 2011

One step further: The next Silicon Valley

7 responses to ““What makes Silicon Valley so special for digital innovation?” Insights by Georges Nahon, Orange San Francisco

  1. Thoughtful piece – thanks. The point that resounded the most with me was “creativity can be quickly turned into beta.” If you refer back to the simplest definition of innovation – “mind to market” – the requirements for innovation are ideas and implementation. Silicon Valley has shown an openness for new ideas and low barriers to implementation (start the business in garage type mentality), which has contributed to many spectacular successes but also high rates of failure and establishing it as a leader in innovation .

  2. Pingback: Viodi View – 03/03/2011 | The Viodi View

  3. Complete view of comment left by Viodi View
    What makes Silicon Valley special for digital innovation? Good article/interview by Nicolas Bry of Orange with his colleague, Georges Nahon, who is Orange’s Corproate Vice President of North America for Orange and CEO of Orange Labs in San Francisco. Like his fellow Frenchman, de Tocqueville, who, in the 19th century, gave an outsider’s perspective on America’s unique experiment in democracy, Nahon offers insight as to what makes the Silicon Valley state of mind special.

    “It is also a place where optimism, generosity, altruism and communities drive the behaviors rather than individualism, egocentricity and cynism. The Valley places a premium on alternatives to top-down, hierarchical sources of support. Governmental subsidy is seen as toxic to innovation funded by private investors. Smart risks are the norm.”

  4. Pingback: Innovation Excellence | Innovation as a Collective Adventure

  5. Pingback: Living innovation as a collective adventure | Rapid innovation in digital time

  6. Pingback: Unleashing Google norms, running the “rapid innovation” engine | Rapid innovation in digital time

  7. Pingback: Israel the start-up nation | Seedstars World Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s