The AT&T Foundry effort has been underway for four years, expanding as it goes, and now includes five sites focused on differing markets and technologies. At each of the five sites, AT&T engineers and staff have the opportunity to work on innovative projects that may -- or may not -- shape the future of communications.
On a recent visit to Dallas, I was able to see two of the five locations in action at an AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) site in Plano, Texas, next door to an Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) facility. AlcaLu is a sponsor of the first AT&T Foundry at Plano, which is devoted to business solutions. The separate site at Plano is devoted to the Internet of Things, connecting devices rather than people, for new and innovative application.
I happened to come to the AT&T Foundry from an earlier stop at the AT&T headquarters in downtown Dallas, where I conducted executive interviews on a floor set up very much like the Foundry offices themselves, in an open space where workers can roam and interact, using flexible workspaces. I think that's an indication that much of what is happening at the AT&T Foundry is having a broader impact on AT&T's work in general, as the telecom giant embraces new ways of working that are enabling at embracing innovation and faster change.
The ideas for projects with the Foundry site devoted to business solutions often come from the business units themselves, says Mike Albrecht, innovation coach and my tour guide, as the units raise issues that require solutions. But there are also projects that are suggested through The Innovation Platform, a portal that allows any employee to suggest a project, which is voted on and, if chosen, funded by AT&T. "About 20% of our projects have come from there," Albrecht says.
The Foundry staffing is a mixture of AT&T and Alcatel-Lucent personnel with about ten engineers or project folks from each company, supported by another ten to 15 AT&T corporate staff.
For a look at the Plano Foundry site devoted to business solutions, click on the image below to launch our slideshow. The New IP will have another slide show soon devoted to the IoT Foundry.
Through the Looking Glass
In case you wondered if I was really there, here's the proof: An accidental selfie of me (and the parking lot) at the front door of AT&T's Foundry in Plano, Texas, on an uncharacteristically cloudy day. This facility was opened in 2011, initially to focus on business solutions.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading