Odd Sverre Østlie

Odd Sverre Østlie (NO)

Odd Sverre (OS) is President/CEO of Viju. Viju is a leading global collaboration specialist who is setting the standard for video conferencing, telepresence, audio visual integration and collaboration & visualization solutions. Together with our customers, we create dynamic, collaborative and connected ways of working to better business performance. Viju has over 250 employees, with 13 offices throughout USA, UK, Norway, Singapore and Malaysia

OS joined Viju in January 2014. Previously, he was General Manager/Senior Director Video and Conferencing, Advanced Services Collaboration at Cisco. Prior to working at Cisco/TANDBERG, he worked at Microsoft and McKinsey and Company. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Industrial Economics and Technology Management from NTNU (The Norwegian University of Science and Technology).

OS was born in Kenya and has lived in Malaysia, UK and USA. He is now based in Oslo.

When OS is not working tirelessly towards Viju’s mission, ‘make people better together’, he likes to spend his downtime with his wife and two kids. He also plays various racket sports and is a keen runner. Whenever possible, he enjoys travelling with his family and friends exploring new places.


A perspective based on leading a global provider on collaboration services and tools to the Norwegian Public Sector, including Health Care (NHN, Health Regions), Labor and Welfare Administration (NAV), Norwegian Defense, and Police and Justice. Speaking points to be developed based on desire to bring forward as a contribution to the conference.

HR policies, financial models and regulation are all good levers to address and discuss. I believe there are a couple of perspectives to share before addressing these.

  • Innovation is about execution – not creativity
    1. Creativity is about coming up with the big idea. Innovation is about executing the idea, it’s hard work and process on translating an idea into a product or service that creates value.
    2. The good news is that there are “more than enough” ideas on how to do simpler, smarter and innovative public services. Common themes are 1) improvement and digitalization of workflows internally and externally and 2) connecting “customers” with “public service agents” and/or public services in a richer and more efficient way
    3. Furthermore, there are already many best practices done across the world in both public and private sector to be inspired by
  • Executing on innovation in Public Sector should start with a customer centric view, analyze people and processes and improve/simplify/redesign workflows, before defining technology
    1. From experience, it seems many public sector innovation initiatives fails because they are grounded in technology and architecture founded upon a “as-is” rather than a “to-be” workflow
      1. Illustrative example: 2004, Norwegian Defense Golf IT Project met mid-implementation a change in the defense organizational structure and workflow (a separate initiative), that could not be supported by the “solution architecture”
    2. When successful innovation is made, it seems public sector owners have a clear understanding of what they want to achieve on workflow/process, and partner with private sector to qualify the solution as well as deliver the technology
      1. Private sector need competent in-house change agents and buyers of technology who specify what they want to achieve and outline technology high level requirements – this is a big difference from having technology centric buyers with limited workflow understanding. The first allows private sector to engage and partner on helping defining the right “question”, vs the latter which often happens – technical RFPs are issued and answered very cost competitively, but address the wrong question
  • Driving innovation requires motivation and incentive to change
    1. Fundamentally, most research and experience points to decisions made on the lowest possible level is the most efficient. Detailed directives from macro decision makers or “outside thought leaders/innovation centers” are prune to providing wrong/substandard directives, as well as not achieving buy-in and execution vs a government unit driving the change from inside
    2. Thus, functional leaders in government units are the key to change – they should be encouraged to drive change both from a “HR policy” point of view (eg, focus on change and innovation in promotions, role descriptions, goals and financial incentives if possible), but most importantly in fiscal governance
      1. Using “the stick” is one element (expectations on improved service levels, offerings and also cost control like development in headcount and other spend)
      2. The most important element is “the carrot” - setting overall motivating vision for next generation government services, and in fiscal terms introduce more long-term budget horizons, delegate ability to reallocate savings from improvements to other initiatives (and not automatically “loose the money” in next years budget), as well as encourage more neutrality between OPEX and CAPEX