On Monday, April 2, 2007, at DLA Piper in East Palo Alto, SDForumâ€™s International SIG Program presented Scandinavia: Opportunities and Challenges. Foad Vafaei Director, Office of General Manager, Emerging Solutions, at SAP Labs moderated a panel consisting of Michael Hadley, Sales and Alliances Executive of Ekahau, Inc., Howard Hartenbaum, former Skype board member and Partner at Draper Richards, LP, Jyri Huopaniemi, Head of Interaction Core Technology Center at the Nokia Research Center, and Pekka Parnanen, Director of FinNode. They discussed the state of innovation in Scandinavia.
Foad Vafaei is responsible for creating solutions for untapped markets, ranging from worker productivity to enterprise mobile applications. He spoke about the extraordinary development of wireless communications in Scandinavia over the past two decades. Innovation is spreading from consumer products to the enterprise markets.
Michael Hadley drives corporate alliances, manages relationships with strategic customers. He develops alliances with the worldâ€™s leading WIFI network infrastructure providers and leading wireless VOIP handset manufacturers. Ekahau helps companies use wireless networks to keep track of assets. One application locates medical equipment like infusion pumps in hospitals. The network tells where it is and if it is ready to use or needs maintenance. Ekahau can also help in the placement of transmitters to optimize a wireless network. The software is so simply designed that users can download and immediately begin using it.
Howard Hartenbaum focuses on investments in enterprise and consumer software and services, wireless network solutions, and peer-to-peer technology. His current directorships include BlackFoot, LucidPort and DecentralTV. He led the founding investment in Skype (acquired by eBay), and was also a former member of the board of directors where his achievement resulted in his joining the Forbes Midas List of top 25 venture capitalists for the year 2007.
Hartenbaumâ€™s experience with Skype is a lesson for doing business in Scandinavia. Skype was a small company with a big vision of a simple product. He believes the commitment to simplicity and great utilitarian design is the hallmark of their culture. He was impressed with Skypeâ€™s model that didnâ€™t need a lot of money. They gathered a lot of information and took their time to make the right decision. Making something simple is very complex. When Skype grew too large, they figured out how many people they really needed and scaled back. It turned out that managing a large mediocre team is more difficult than a small talented team.
He thinks their new peer-to-peer on-demand video service called Joost will be at least as big as Skype. He also sees potential for a small affordable utilitarian car from the region over the next few years.
Jyri Huopaniemi is Head of Interaction Core Technology Center in Nokia Research Center. The ICTC is responsible for strategic and long-term research in usability and user interfaces, multimedia and personal content technologies, immersive communication and collaboration technologies. Nokia started out as a paper company and diversified through long range planning into the worldâ€™s largest maker of mobile devices. In Finland market penetration of cell phones is now an astonishing 105 percent! Globally, Nokia sells 10 phones per second.
Huopaniemi looks for the next big thing but keeps the consumer in mind. Consumer behavior drives new products. Cell phones are evolving into multimedia computers with Internet access, Radio Frequency ID (RFID) sensing and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). Imagine looking at a cell phone display and seeing the street in front of you with superimposed descriptions of store and street names. They call this augmented reality, where details stored in RFID chips and GPS can guide consumers through physical space.
Pekka Parnanen, Director of FinNode, the new Finnish innovation center in Silicon Valley. He works with trade groups to encourage investment and development between Finlandâ€™s and the United States.