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What does innovation mean to Philips and how does it impacts your business strategy?

Innovation is something which has underpinned our company since its foundation in 1891. In the past 120+ year history of Philips, we’ve introduced many innovations that make a difference in people’s lives every day. What differentiates us from other innovative companies is our deep understanding of people’s needs and aspirations. We use this understanding to deliver innovation that is personal, relevant and impactful. Making technology work for people; that is our ‘sweet spot’. This is as true today as it was 120 years ago. We've brought light to the world and music to the masses, and we've helped to revolutionize the healthcare industry. Today, we're combining our technical know-how with a deep understanding of people's needs to deliver truly life-changing solutions for businesses, governments and consumers. Because, for us, innovation isn't just about creating exciting objects that catch the imagination of our customers for one heady moment. Instead, it's about perfecting products, services and business models that help our customers to take care of people and save lives, to live healthier and enjoy themselves, and to be part of a more sustainable world. At Philips, Innovation is at the very core of our business strategy, as well as our brand positioning and company’s mission: At Philips we strive to make the world healthier and more sustainable through innovation. And we protect our innovation with one of the strongest and best IP portfolios in the world.

How do you encourage and instill a culture of innovation within your organization?

Building and nurturing our culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is incredibly important. We have defined clearly our internal values and behaviors: be eager to win, take ownership, team up to excel. Our management and reward systems are geared up to drive these behaviors. Innovation leaders should look for ways to bring out the natural creativity of all their staff, but they should also invest in specific skills if the firm is to develop and implement ideas effectively. You’ve got to figure out what skills you need, because you can’t build capacity in everything. You have to make choices. As a result of a recent company-wide inventory taken of staff skills and competencies related to innovation, Philips now has a global view of the skilled people available, where they are located and how they are currently deployed. That gives me a framework and a topology and indicates possible gaps we might need to fill and how we could use people better, and that is a very powerful tool.

What is it like to lead one of the world's top 100 most innovative companies?

As Chief IP Officer of Philips, I am proud to lead the worldwide IP team of Philips and be among the executive leadership team of the company. Philips has a long reputation as having one of the largest and most valuable IP portfolios in the world. With the changing nature of Philips’ businesses over time, you can imagine that we have quite a diverse IP portfolio, which provides both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is clear: we have a quality portfolio that helps to enable our IP strategy to fully mirror the overall Philips business strategy. This is essential for Philips as well as any other operating company. Philips has a proud history of stressing quality as being of paramount importance over quantity. It is my job to ensure that this tradition continues as Philips secures and maintains an IP portfolio that is relevant and important for our various businesses and that we maximize value creation from this strong portfolio. The challenge is equally clear: we need to develop and maintain an IP portfolio that is of high quality and since it can be quite costly to maintain this portfolio, we are selective in choosing the highest quality IP assets to keep in our portfolio and may choose to divest or not maintain the other IP assets. The challenge is in making this determination, given the changing nature of the business.

What do you consider to be your most innovative assets?

The most valuable asset by far is our people. Also, our deep market insights, based on close contacts with clients and other partners. When we come up with a new idea, it is based on constant interaction with these partners. We don’t dream it up ourselves in a lab or office! For some companies, the lab may be their world. Finally, it is our strong record of technology innovation. Of course, innovation is not only about technology. At Philips, we also innovate in many other ways. By improving our business processes, for example, so we can get products to market faster. Or by creating new business models such as selling products as a service, or long-term deals with hospitals where we get paid for the cost savings and quality improvements achieved.