Member Spotlight: Joshua Ness, Verizon

By Collin Robisheaux, Kaitlin Milliken |  May 26, 2021

Joshua Ness is a Senior Manager at Verizon 5G Labs, where he predicts how 5G will work with other technologies to create new products and services. We spoke with Joshua as part of our IL Member Spotlight series, which profiles members of the InnoLead network. 

Joshua Ness, Senior Manager, Verizon 5G Labs

Share a little bit about your current role at Verizon 5G Labs.

5g Labs’ role within Verizon is quite literally to predict the future. And it’s our job to come up with use cases and scenarios…in which 5G is going to work with other technologies to create new products and services to help businesses and consumers and ultimately transform how they live, work and play… Over the past 10 years…the throughput potential of 4G has allowed for everything from seamless e-commerce, to precision location targeting, to services like ride hailing and car sharing, and the ability to collaborate on a wide variety of applications with people all over the world. … 5G is going to have an equally if not more significant impact on how we think about technology. 

We work with partners, innovators, founders, and technology companies, big and small, to create opportunities and pathways to either learn how to develop technologies using these [5G] resources, or how to apply solutions that were built using these resources to impact customers or users. 

What are some recent achievements that the Verizon 5G team has accomplished?

Most recently the 5G Labs team worked with our corporate social responsibility team to create a social impact accelerator that seeks out social impact technologies on an ongoing basis. And so we’ve created an accelerator program that initially is seeking out startups that are creating technologies that contribute to climate justice…

Two years ago, we ran…the Verizon 5G Ed Tech Challenge, and we sought out university researchers and startups who were developing next-generation, leading-edge education technologies that could use 5G as a connectivity platform to deliver more meaningful experiences for middle school students and educators. And we worked with 10 teams over the course of about a year, and recently, we announced that two of those solutions have been permanently integrated into Verizon’s innovative learning schools, which is part of Verizon’s commitment to education.

Is there a resource that you think is helpful for other innovators who might be running labs?

There are a couple of websites and newsletters that I read pretty regularly. That’s RCRWireless and Light Reading, and those are very industry-specific. I would say that my secret weapon is Marketplace… If we as technologists can understand what is happening in the global marketplace, then we’re in a better position to be spotting trends, to be anticipating future movements, and to be building solutions and pathways that can address opportunities as they arise. 

Is there any piece of advice that you’d want to share with readers?

Innovation is great. And it’s fun, but it is important when approaching any project, to think about relevant stakeholders and make sure that they are informed and bought in… For a project to get [canceled]…it takes one stakeholder. It can take one person just to say, “nope, we have different priorities” or “nope, we don’t have the resources for that…”  

It is really important to make sure that there is alignment — if not in the vision, then at least in the process — so that, as innovators, we can confidently move forward, knowing that stakeholders and decision-makers will be interested and eager to see the outcome [of an initiative] and hopefully see it implemented.