We Keep America Running

Jan Söderström shares how Ericsson employees are finding ways to execute speedily and help society in all the ways they can during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keep America Running, American Flag

Vice President and Head of Technology Office Silicon Valley

Vice President and Head of Technology Office Silicon Valley

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I am so proud to work for Ericsson.

During this crisis, we are using our skills and talents to Keep America Running.  This is who we are as a company, and I wrote this blog to share how Ericsson employees are finding ways to move incredibly fast and help society in all the ways they can.  My best example is how Ericsson mobilized to participate in the CORD-19 challenge from the White House to combat the corona virus.

We had just closed the Ericsson Office in Santa Clara and were having a virtual meeting with the around 100 Group Function Tech staff at the site. I recommended we launch a virtual hackathon on ways to help society during this crisis.

We worked at lightning speed after that.  Who says a large international company cannot work quickly?

The next workday, Paul McLachlan, Principal Data Scientist on our Global Artificial Intelligence Accelerator (GAIA), spotted the just-released challenge from the White House and came to me and said, “We should sign up, we have the expertise and we have engaged people that want to contribute!”  Of course we should do it, I responded.

A few hours later, Head of Ericsson North America Niklas Heuveldop and Ericsson Group CTO Erik Ekudden were saying the same thing. The next day we sent an email to all of Ericsson North America asking for their voluntary contribution to this challenge.

We received an overwhelming response!  We now have over 350 people engaged in 34 teams delivering insightful results to this challenge, and Paul is working double shifts to keep it all together.

Of course, all of this excitement cannot overtake my day job as the Head of the Technology Office in Silicon Valley, where I run the D-15 Lab program  for co-creation with ecosystem partners across all the Ericsson organizations. This week we are proud to see one of our projects reach commercial launch with Amazon-Alexa and EE – a UK-based operator. This launch is about enabling a smart speaker to also make telephony calls with your normal telephone number. We performed IODT between the Alexa voice client in the cloud and the Ericsson IMS telephony system. We added entitlement functionality in the network to onboard the Alexa telephony service for a user – a true co-creation effort – and we are excited to see the service commercially launched. Also notable is the recent Boundless XR launch from Qualcomm where we jointly developed a blueprint for how we can enable virtual reality over 5G networks and standard Qualcomm chipsets with their new XR2 HMD reference design. Stay tuned - we have many more new use cases for 5G in the pipeline  with different partners across Silicon Valley.

We are doing all this work virtually from home. We are keeping the team spirit up by having virtual coffee breaks - or FIKA as we say in Swedish – every day, and we find all sorts of new ways to keep our business running without being able to interact as normal. We are encouraging each other to take breaks, go out and see the sun for a walk or run in beautiful California – with proper social distancing. Personally, I am so thankful for this ability to get out every day, to keep my brain sharp and mentally balanced. In fact, I have increased my mountain biking to five or six runs per week, thanks to the time saved by not commuting.

Someone told me that it takes 21 days to set a new habit. Perfecting virtual interaction in the workspace is a huge habit on a professional level. And regular mountain biking is my challenge privately. This unfortunate situation we face  is an opportunity for me to work on both, to keep America, Ericsson and myself running.

What is your plan?

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