In a previous post I discussed the “data gathering” aspect of an innovation strategy named "Know Where You Are". I recommended the creation of a Portfolio Intelligence team to gather business data. In this post I’d like to focus on the second phase of an innovation strategy: Building Communities.
At EMC the CTO Office is at the center of a large number of innovation communities. This is likely the norm at many high-tech companies. The unique twist at EMC is that these communities are specifically expected to produce and gather large amounts of innovation data.
What follows is a brief overview of each community. The overview will serve as a basis for understanding what kind of data each community will generate.
Advanced Development: hundreds of EMC technologists around the world perform advanced development and research on behalf of the company. The CTO Office provides a central portfolio view of their data and sponsors community activities (e.g. technology summits) to stimulate collaboration.
Knowledge Transfer: The CTO Office regularly conducts technology transfer sessions to educate the technical community on recent trends and strategic decisions. The attendance at these sessions is a further opportunity to gather data from the technology community
Ideas: EMC has conducted an “Innovation Roadmap” idea contest since 2007. The global idea submission count increased well over 10 fold during this time. The CTO Office runs a global “Innovation Best Practices” community. The database for all of these ideas contains thousands upon thousands of employee entries.
Intellectual Property: The CTO Office communicates EMC’s strategic IP themes across the globe and has a community of evangelists and reviewers that can drive the generation and protection of key ideas across communities.
Customers and Partners: The CTO Office always brings a scribe to any customer/partner meeting where the technology vision of EMC is discussed. There are two key EMC communities that partner with the CTO Office: The Executive Briefing Center team and the Alliances team.
External and University Research: EMC’s Leader of External research is a member of the CTO Office and has created a community of global technologists that participate in external research.
The core community that drives all of the others is the Fellow and Distinguished Engineer (FDE) community.
The members of the FDE community represent some of the most elite technologists in the company. When they are nominated and successfully integrated into the community they are invited to devote a portion of their time in order to assist these programs. The involvement of FDEs into these programs not only drives innovation but provides role models to aspiring technologists.
This ecosystem of communities generates the innovation data that should be gathered in step 1. In an upcoming post I’ll highlight the prototype innovation gathering framework currently in use at EMC.