If you stop and think through how far mobile technology has come over the last thirty years, it is quite mind-boggling. Each decade has brought with it a fresh, game-changing innovation. In the 1980s, we moved from analogue to digital; the 1990s saw the development of 3G; and in the noughties, smartphones took over the world and the iPhone in particular revolutionised how people access the internet.
At the centre of all these transformational developments has been Martin Stiven, Vice President of Business at EE, the company that runs the Orange, T-Mobile and EE brands in the UK. EE is currently spearheading the next big thing – the superfast 4G network – that provides significant benefits to modern businesses.
He explains: “I began my career as a sales manager with Plessey, which became Siemens, before moving to the mobile operator Cellnet in 1991, seeing £22 billion spent on 3G licenses by the industry. This was the decade when people really began to use a mobile phone as a business tool. Following this role, I worked with BT at the end of the 90s, looking at global propositions for mobility with multinational customers.”
Stiven moved from BT’s mobile network, O2, to Orange in 2010, the same year it merged with T-Mobile. He oversaw the launch of EE in October 2012 – the first and only network to offer 4G technology in the UK.
So what exactly is 4G and what does it offer businesses? “4G is the fourth generation technology which offers superfast mobile internet at speeds five times faster than 3G,” says Stiven. “Quite simply, it can help businesses increase innovation, boost productivity and cut costs.”
For companies accessing 4G there are endless possibilities. Downloading large emails, presentations, video content and more is instantaneous. Remote desktop applications can be accessed easily and quickly, allowing for HD video conferencing via mobile phones, for HD clips to be streamed on tablets, and remote collaboration on documents online.
“It really comes down to the amazing speed you get with 4G, which means businesses can do things on the move which they wouldn’t have thought possible before,” Stiven states.
“For example, when setting up a construction site or a ‘pop up’ retail shop, companies don’t have to wait for a fixed operator to put a line in. They can access a 4G connection using a mobile wi-fi device and connect five devices instantly at high speed.”
Recently, EE conducted the world’s first global study into 4G business research. This highlighted construction companies in the US reducing project times by as much as 30%, saving $1000 a day, because they can send big files to and from site so easily with 4G.
Stiven adds: “In Germany, a trial was conducted where data was sent via 4G from ambulance to hospital to better diagnose the patient being brought in. This reduced alarm-to-therapy times by 54%.”
Through an ongoing investment of £1.5 billion, EE continues to improve its 4G network throughout the UK, with a view to increasing coverage to 98% of the country by the end of 2014. “When we achieve this,” adds Stiven, “it will represent the quickest roll-out of any network in Europe to date.
“We want to be the market leader and sustain the advantage we already have, continuing to differentiate ourselves in the market, growing our customer base and delivering fantastic service.
“One of the wonderful things about new technology is there are things you expect to happen and there are things that take you by surprise. When an innovation ecosystem takes hold, people start to think about things they can do differently. All we know is that we will see individuals and businesses driving real change and it is tremendously exciting waiting to see what the future holds.
“I feel very lucky to be part of an industry that has changed the way people live their lives and operate at work.”
5 business lessons
- Enable people to be the best they can be: Give them the confidence to fulfil their capabilities
- Don’t compromise on talent: Get it right at the recruitment stage – this is where the opportunities begin
- Be passionate about what you do: If you are, you are well on the way to succeeding in your aims and will inspire others
- Think like a customer: This helps ensure that propositions are designed right first time
- Look at things differently: There are times when this will give you real competitive advantage, as we are enjoying with our 4G launch.
For more information on 4G visit: http://explore.ee.co.uk/4gee
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