ALTEN has created a series of labs over the past several years. The labs serve as flexible, agile innovation units designed to respond to specific customer needs.
Each ALTEN lab focuses on a specific issue relevant to local demand. In Toulouse, for example, which is home to Airbus, the focus is on business data analysis, with ALTEN’s first Big Data and Artificial Intelligence Lab. Another three labs have also been set up:
- User eXperience/User Interface (UX/UI),
- Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR),
- Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) around the Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
There are also two labs in the Greater Paris area. The first, in Chaville, works on embedded systems, with a particular focus on autonomous systems (sensors, artificial intelligence, and image processing). The second, in Boulogne, specializes in Robotic Process Automation (RPA), big data, and IoT.
A lab was created in Sophia-Antipolis in late 2018 to work on big data and artificial intelligence. Finally, a lab in Rennes also works on artificial intelligence and data as well as IoT and blockchain.
ALTEN is in the process of setting up new labs in the same geographical areas, and it is likely that even more ideas for labs will be hatched in the coming months. It all starts with a brainstorming session where expert engineers (around ten for each geographical area) look at customer needs to come up with a list of priority innovation projects. This bottom-up approach is effective at getting several MVP (Minimum Viable Product) innovation projects up and running very rapidly so that the results can be used to demonstrate ALTEN’s know-how to customers.
“The projects our consultants work on here at ALTEN do not generally leave much room for technical uncertainty. The goal is to develop solutions that will work in industrial environments,” said Stéphane Jeanty, Technical Director in charge of the labs. “This is not the case at the labs, where it is okay to ask questions and take risks, both of which are crucial to innovation.”
The current objective is to merge the labs to achieve economies of scale and create additional resources that will fuel creativity and innovation.
“We want our consultants to be agile from A to Z with the support of the Innovation Division, which was created at the end of 2018. Our motto is ‘Don’t align, unite!’,” Stéphane Jeanty.
“We want the labs to have the freedom to organize themselves the way they want, but we also want them to work in sync to maximize the value they deliver. Innovation is created from chaos,” Mr Jeanty said, smiling.
This new approach to innovation is currently limited to France. However, ALTEN plans to roll it out internationally after 2020.
“ALTEN Labs respond to one of our profession’s fundamental needs. We have to have expert resources on the issues relevant to our customers to deliver effective responses. Expanding the initiative internationally just makes sense.”