The year was 1993, and GSM – the Global System for Mobile Communications – was starting to gain traction. That was also the year that Erik Ekudden started as an engineer with Ericsson Research, working on signal processing and speech coding.
“From a technology point of view, it was a great time to start,” Ekudden says. “We were finalizing GSM, I was working with research and I’d already started working with some of our leading customers. It was a period when we went from local technologies with local standards and systems to truly global technologies with global standards and systems.”
Ekudden continued to stay close to the technology, holding senior technical positions within Research and Development. During that time his team created the speech coding and speech and multimedia functionality that are now used in today’s smartphones worldwide.
Also during his career, he has worked to create global mobile systems for 3G and 4G in close collaboration with customers. Shortly after the millennium, Ekudden headed up a new research area in service layer technologies, spanning management, data and media. This team also conducted some of the first work on virtual and augmented reality for mobile systems.
For the past seven years, Ekudden was Head of Technology Strategy for the Ericsson Group and CTO Americas. It was there, in the heart of Silicon Valley, that Ekudden gained some of his most valuable insight for his new role.
“Silicon Valley is quite a unique place, where business and technology come together, perhaps in a stronger way than in other places around the world,” Ekudden says. “That’s not to say it doesn’t exist elsewhere – the Nordics is one example. But you really notice the strength of the relationship between the two in Silicon Valley – there is a very natural connection between technology and business."
“One of the key learnings from my time there is that it is extremely important for Ericsson to be a strong player in the technology and innovation ecosystem and for us to drive strong partnerships on the technology side. Also, speed is really critical: speed in terms of decision making, in terms of execution and implementation and in the change in the technology landscape.”
This mentality of rapid change is something Ekudden is committed to maintaining at Ericsson.
“The telecommunications industry is used to being the disruptor and implementing change at speed. Now we are entering a new phase where we are building systems that affect not only consumers with their phones, but we are building systems with 5G that will affect enterprises and society at large,” he says.
Read more about the technology trends that Ekudden believes will have the greatest impact in the years ahead.