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Orange totes Technocentre to London

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Orange is bringing the Technocentre concept to London, citing the success of the existing centres as proof that the company can take the best of the internet and make it work for a telco.

Orange runs a number of Technocentres, each of which creates a small team for each specific product being examined. The team comprises marketing, engineers and research staff in equal measure - putting marketing into the mix from the word go to ensure no one's developing products without an interested audience. The Paris Technocentre has more than 1,000 staff working on new technologies, and is soon to be joined by a UK division based in London.

The internet has always run on innovation: ideas are created and chucked in to the world at an alarming rate, with the belief that the underlying architecture will just cope or adjust, and is someone else's problem anyway. The telecoms business has always progressed with the utmost caution - new ideas are to be feared, tolerated if necessary, and the integrity of the network is always paramount. Combining the two has been a challenge to every modern telco, and made for a clash of cultures that unsettled Orange for more than five years, according to the Executive Vice President of Technocentre Yves Tyrode.

Yves Tyrode has been running the Paris Technocentre for the last two years, with teams developing products and promoting them within Orange. Earlier this week Orange announced a London Technocentre, with 80 staff based around the various existing Orange offices to work in the same pattern to the same ends.

That's not to say that these teams get to do what they want - this isn't the internet world after all. Every Technocentre team is required to jump through gates at every stage of development, running through processes that owe more to the telecommunications world than the freewheeling internet. Yves assures us that Orange has worked hard to keep the paperwork to a minimum, and standardised across every territory in which Orange operates, but it's clearly the telecoms people trying to incorporate the internet way of doing things, rather than the other way round.

Not that this approach is inherently wrong - it's just one way of trying to reconcile two distinct industries, where convergence ceases to be about technology and becomes about people. ®

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