Competitions from the likes of Microsoft and Virgin are sparking innovation and drawing thousands of contestants from around the world
Ideas even emanated from Iran, North Korea, and the tiny Cocos Islands and Keeling Islands off the coast of Australia. "We got more ideas in two months from this mechanism than our internal site did in about a year and a half," Jouret says.
Not bad for a contest advertised almost entirely through blogs and word-of-mouth marketing.
"There are many markets, many new ideas, and one particular country or area doesn't have a monopoly on all the world's ideas," Jouret adds... Read more >
Global Competition Launched Using Collaborative Technologies to Accelerate Innovation
The Cisco I-Prize aims to bring together global teams to develop technology business ideas using Cisco's collaboration technologies and to run those ideas through Cisco's process for identifying emerging technologies to take to market. Read more >
Since the company's founding in 1984 when a small group of computer scientists from Stanford University started the company, Cisco engineers have been leaders in the development of Internet Protocol (IP)-based networking technologies. Today, with more than 63,000 employees worldwide, this tradition of innovation continues with industry-leading products and solutions in the company's core development areas of routing and switching, as well as other advanced technologies.
The Cisco name has become synonymous with the Internet, as well as with the productivity improvements that Internet business solutions provide. The Cisco vision is to change the way people work, live, play and learn.
Cisco, one of today's largest, most influential companies, enables people to make powerful connections in business, education, philanthropy and creativity. Cisco hardware, software and service offerings are used to create Internet solutions that make networks possible, all by providing easy access to information anywhere, at anytime.
Due to the rapidly-approaching launch date of the Development Center, Cisco insisted upon a twenty-day deployment deadline. Accordingly, within five days of Cisco's initial approach, the two organizations had agreed upon the initial terms and Brightidea was commissioned to get to work. And, while this was an exciting opportunity for Brightidea, implementing a basic innovation solution was not an option. Furthermore, achieving a system according to Cisco's complex security specifications and within the timeframe allotted would be an almost-impossible challenge for any innovation management provider.
Yet, despite Cisco's rigorous branding guidelines, such standards were minor when compared to the complex set of security requirements necessitated by the world's leading Internet solutions organization.
Accordingly, Cisco presented Brightidea with an extremely explicit and complicated set of security specifications. Well-aware of the misperception that Software-as-a-Service is less secure as the software options of a generation past, the Brightidea team was determined to overcome this false and antiquated stereotype. With dedicated enthusiasm for the mission, Brightidea not only met, but exceeded all Cisco security mandates and furthermore developed a system that passed two separate application scans with flying colors.
At first glance, particularly given the timeframe and complex set of requirements involved, participation in the development of this project first appeared as an example in how to set-up a company for failure. However, Brightidea approached the challenge with a unique philosophy: by achieving the Cisco requirements, and doing so under the tight deadline, the possibilities for future collaboration could be endless. Accordingly, this test of Brightidea's internal capabilities and technological capacities would likely serve as a barometer for potential growth over the next few years.
Within five days of Cisco's initial contact with Brightidea, the two organizations had negotiated all up-front terms and requirements. Cisco I-Prize, as it would be known in its final form, would serve as a unique competition that not only engaged the idea processes of its own, internal workforce, but would also embrace the thoughts and ideas of the masses.
Brightidea's execution of the I-Prize contest using its proprietary WebStorm solution occurred within twenty days, and according to all Cisco terms and specifications. Furthermore, WebStorm was and is a technological marvel in terms of establishing a successful and unique on-demand innovation solution aimed exclusively at harnessing the wisdom of the crowds and leveraging the brilliance of the masses to solve problems and creative, cutting-edge new ideas. WebStorm's exclusive capabilities allow users to post ideas, comment, rank, manage and prioritize ideas. It can be utilized for both internal and external users, and in this case, reached across countries and organizations in order to capture both quantity and quality ideas.
The brilliance of the solution, in combination with Brightidea's ability to execute in a timely manner, rendered the end result a huge win for Cisco. Through Cisco's insistence on strict branding and security guidelines, WebStorm functioned as a unique company initiative, yet all the while was powered by the bright minds behind the innovative products at Brightidea.
Luis Ostdiek, Executive Vice President of Technology at Brightidea and manager of the WebStorm/I-Prize initiative, says:
In addition to the cutting-edge security features implemented for Cisco, Brightidea was also able to highlight many of the unique features available when implementing WebStorm for an organization. Cisco chose to enact many of the advanced features, such as community blogs, user rankings, user profiles, newsletters, statistics and updates. According to Ostdiek, "This program really gave Brightidea an avenue to showcase its capabilities. In reality, it took Brightidea from under the radar to center stage."
Within hours of launching the I-Prize contest, hundreds of posts, submissions, comments and votes began flooding the WebStorm. Initially slated to commence in mid-January, the contest was extended thirty days due to the overwhelming success and popularity of the system. In fact, by February 15, the extended I-Prize close date, nearly 1200 ideas, 4100 comments, 6600 votes and almost 2400 unique users were logged and active. Furthermore, participants in the contest hailed from more than 80 countries.
Press and media coverage of I-Prize proved not only positive, but extremely high-profile. Both the quality of coverage and nature of the online organic buzz was extensive; however, the word on the street about the Brightidea Solution that brought the contest to fruition was particularly energetic.
In more practical terms, however, the I-Prize contest provided immediate and direct contact amongst Cisco executives, global employees and external participants. For example, the Chief Technology Officer at Cisco could be found commenting on ideas submitted by individuals on the other side of the globe, thus connecting innovative, bright minds that would have otherwise never been linked.
The end result garnered a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm, as such hands-on contact and participation unearthed ideas that would have never seen the light of day at companies adhering to the 'traditional' idea development process. By being one of the first organizations to step out-of-the-box and solicit ideas from all channels, individuals and industries, Cisco not only became a pioneer in the democratization of innovation, but it also benefitted by garnering thousands of valuable ideas which could potentially be converted into revenue generating products and initiatives. Through the WebStorm/I-Prize initiative, Cisco positioned itself a leader in harnessing the 'wisdom of the crowd' and understanding that the issues and concerns created in today's business environment are often best solved by reaching out to the masses for the most innovative ideas.
Almost as exciting as the possibilities the contest provided to the Cisco organization were the benefits offered to the I-Prize participants. The individual who submitted the winning submission received a $250,000 signing bonus and offer of employment to join the Cisco team. Furthermore, Cisco would provide ten million dollars seed money to help develop the winning idea.
According to Cisco's CEO, John Chambers, "The future of productivity and business models... will be driven by how we collaborate together... the future should be open to every person in the global citizen environment."
This is the forward-thinking attitude and outlook that is driving the future at Cisco and at Brightidea.
Cisco was so pleased with the Brightidea Solution and overwhelming success of the I-Prize contest, management has requested subsequent Brightidea initiatives and programs be implemented within various internal departments and divisions.
In addition to the WebStorm/I-Prize initiative, which focused on harnessing the wisdom of the masses, Cisco has also utilized similar Brightidea technology to enact multiple employee programs which are aimed at equalizing employees by soliciting company-wide participation and placing a premium on the thoughts and ideas of every member of the global Cisco family.
This billion dollar company is serving as an example of how harnessing the wisdom of the crowd can be both beneficial to the organization and the overall greater good.