By Julie Barker
The company has built two innovation centers, one on each coast, and invests heavily in developing products and what it calls “powerful answers.” “I think that’s what separates us from a lot of our competitors,” says Fran Shammo, CFO of Verizon Communications.
“We have our own labs and do our own designs and development around certain products. But a lot of it is collaborative,” he says. The labs are open to anyone who wants to test software on Verizon’s LTE network. Co-development often follows, as it did in the case of Golden-i, a tablet-based product for firefighters that allows them to view schematics as they move through a building, follow the heat profiles of trapped victims or of fellow firefighters in distress, and “see” someone through a wall. The product, introduced at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, was conceived by Kopin Corporation to run on Verizon’s 4G LTE network.
Shammo says that Verizon’s strategy to be a leader in innovation requires big capital expenditure investments and is driven by chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam. Last year, $16.6 billion went to CAPEX to support wireless, wireline, and global networks, placing Verizon among the top investors in U.S. technology infrastructure. Speaking broadly of the CFO’s role, Shammo says, “It’s your job to make sure that you can support the strategic initiative. So from a financial perspective, debt perspective, stock, shareholder, everything, it’s your job to make sure you support the chairman’s view of where the company needs to go.”