Article from SoftAtHome’s CEO, David Viret-Lange
David Viret-Lange explaining more in detail our inspiring Mission Statement
“When you are a telecom operator that brings connectivity to all homes in a country, the question of your Mission Statement is so simple that it rarely gets posed “: this was the answer of Christel Heydenman, the new CEO of Orange, to a question from an executive.
Yes, but the question can appear much more relevant when you are a software company part of the ecosystem helping telecom operators accomplish their mission.
The concept of “Mission Statement” is growing, and the new French PACTE law has even taken it a step further by allowing companies to include their “Raison d’Être” in their bylaws.
How does SoftAtHome stand out from the many players knocking on operator’s doors? What does SoftAtHome contribute to the digital ecosystem and society in general? What makes a talented engineer prefer to come and work for SoftAtHome rather than for another European start-up or scale-up? I ask myself this question regularly, and I wanted us to provide a collective answer as a unifying performance goal and commitment.
So, at the end of 2021, we initiated a project with the Management Committee to redefine our Mission Statement. We chose a bottom-up approach that all employees were invited to join. We were supported by Alexandra Hong and Stéphane Giudicelli, who provided methodological expertise – whom I would like to thank warmly in passing – to conduct workshops in small groups. At the end of a session, the group proposed a Mission Statement. The management team then selected a shortlist of the three most relevant proposals, and a vote was organised to choose THE Raison d’Être, a.k.a. Mission Statement for SoftAtHome.
The nine-word outcome is the following:
TOGETHER, WE INVENT THE CONNECTED HOME EXPERIENCE OF TOMORROW.
I am particularly proud of the result, and I want to explain each element and how I now feel about this Mission Statement.
Several proposals were made to integrate the concept of ‘collective’, including “Together with our partners”. The outcome was to use the single word “Together”.
This choice highlights the fact that no one can succeed alone, not only within the company but also outside of the company, in the face of all market players. An African saying goes, “Alone we go faster, together we go further”.
It is important to be aware of the collective’s importance to the company’s success. Building software is a collective work. We must start with a deep understanding of the customers’ needs, including anticipating future ones. We need to rely on an architecture that enables evolution. Only a united team can achieve this. Everyone knows and understands their contribution to the whole.
This concept of Collective Success goes beyond the company. We live in a hyper-competitive world, and small companies like SoftAtHome can only survive and grow when integrated into an ecosystem with their customers and partners.
This collaboration is especially true for SoftAtHome. Without close cooperation with hardware manufacturers, chipset manufacturers and third-party developers, we would be unable to deliver innovation to our customers. And a good part of our innovation also comes from working in “open book” mode with our Operator customers.
Some of our main operator customers are our shareholders, which makes us different. This specific governance, which we call the “Club of Operators”, again expresses the desire to pool the strengths and intelligence of a group of operators who share the same strategy in the face of giants who wish to capture the value on their vertical platform.
WE INVENT… OF TOMORROW
The company’s soul is in innovation and perpetual review of what has been developed in the past.
If we are not ahead of the game and don’t anticipate market trends, our solutions will quickly become commoditised and less valuable.
Our value is in our ability to make innovations happen seamlessly. We are not a company of dreamy engineers who imagine a distant, unattainable future. Our DNA is in “Making it come true”.
Customers may have thought it would take months or years to succeed with a project. But we will often demonstrate concepts to them in much shorter timeframes. It’s rewarding to hand over the keys to a solution we have worked on for many months to our customers. So, the term “OF TOMORROW” also expresses this desire for short-term, tangible delivery, and we can take up this agility slogan: “Think Big, Act Small, Scale Fast”.
“OF TOMORROW” also means to me that we must think about future generations. Tomorrow’s connected house must meet my children’s needs. It continuously improves access to digital services, as we have been doing since the company’s creation, and it will also have to consider society’s new challenges. Achieving sustainability in our domain needs a drastic slowdown of device renewal and significantly lower power consumption of our digital lifestyles.
THE CONNECTED HOME EXPERIENCE
While SoftAtHome is active in many areas, its deep expertise in connected home solutions makes it unique and gives us market recognition.
Of all the telecom services I’ve worked in, the Home is one of the most exciting areas. It is a technological field of the B2C market that overlaps the world of networks and the world of connected objects. Only in the Home is there such a variety of connected devices for home automation, wearables, security or entertainment. These are changing so fast that it’s at Consumer Electronics shows like CES in Las Vegas that they are tracked. The Home is the most formidably complex place to manage the connectivity between operator solutions and all the connected retail devices that families invest in.
But the Home is much more than a technological environment. It has a powerful emotional dimension. My “home” also reflects my tastes and me. It is different from my neighbour’s Home. For those who own our own homes, it’s also a central part of the heritage we build over a lifetime. The connected solutions we create for our Homes will enrich this heritage and reflect our individuality.
For many SoftAtHome employees, the solutions we develop are used in our own homes. We get immediate feedback from our most demanding consumers, our children and partners. In a world where so many people don’t care about “bullshit jobs” or “PowerPoint start-ups”, we at SoftAtHome can say that we develop things at the heart of everyone’s digital life.
As a final thought, our involvement in the prpl Foundation contributes to the emergence of an Open-Source standard for the Home LAN. This project reflects our Mission Statement through these elements:
- The importance of the collective and ecosystems,
- The ability to take risks to challenge the established paradigm,
- The passion for the “Connected Home “,
- A culture of delivery.
In this article, I hope to have shared my pleasure at having worked with the whole company on the “Mission Statement” project and my pride in our results. The next steps that we will take together promise to be exciting!