Bob Iannucci has been in the IT industry for the last three decades, first at IBM at the time of the mainframes, then at Digital with its minis, and then in the '90s, at Compaq. But since the first of January, he is the new chief technology officer of Nokia. He is also the first member of the board who is not based in Finland, remaining in Palo Alto, California, where he has headed the Nokia Research Centre since 2004.
In this interview, Iannucci shares his impressions of the industry. First of all, he believes the mobile OS has not yet made its debut – and of course he hopes that Nokia and its partners will develop it.
But his main mission is to help Nokia achieve the company’s new dream, to succeed in its transition from a mobile company to an Internet service and appliance provider. In other words, as mobile phones become a commodity, it is time for Nokia to give up that market and reinvent itself once again, just as it has many times since 1865 when the company started as paper mill. That’s Bob Iannucci’s mission. So beware, Google and Apple.
Computerworld: Which are your responsibilities/challenges heading Nokia Research?
Iannucci: My responsibility for Nokia Research Centre, which is about 850 R&D people out of the company's total population of 14,500. We have laboratories in Beijing; Tokyo; Palo Alto, where I’m based; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Cambridge, UK; Germany and Finland.
Some IT industries focus their work based on a 10 year road map. Could you describe the road map for wireless technology development for the next 10 years?
It’s a good question. The way that we work in NRC is that we take a seven-year time horizon for our strategy and we try to adjust it to Nokia strategy and the challenges, and also look beyond that.
So what do you envision seven years from now?
It’s pretty difficult to predict business that far out. What we believe is going to happen in the next period is that the devices will become increasingly invisible. The communication will be pervasive. We won’t think about wireless bandwidth speeds, because bandwidth is readily available, and probably the biggest change is that we see value shifting from devices to services and software, and that is one of the main reasons why we are reorganising the company.
My own personal background is that I come from the computing world. I used to work at IBM, I used to work at Digital Equipment, and I show people this is like seeing a movie for the fourth of fifth time. I saw what happened with mainframes as value went from hardware to software to services, and then with minicomputers and so on.