It’s come and gone, but at Brightidea we’re still basking in the afterglow of our second annual user conference, Synthesize. With a vision of sparking the inspiration, creativity, and collaboration of the Brightidea community, the event was billed as a unique opportunity for corporate innovation leaders to learn more about and share their experiences with the innovation process. And judging from the energy at the event itself as well as rave reviews from attendees across the board, it delivered on that promise—and more.
Taking place at the iconic San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the conference served as the perfect setting for our latest product release announcement, bracketed by presentations from industry heavy hitters, workshops by innovation experts, networking against a backdrop of compelling art installations, and a musical guest with a style as innovative as the community that convened for this very special event.
Beginning with a Bang
To an audience of over 200 industry insiders in SFMOMA’s Wattis Theatre, CEO Matt Greeley kicked off the conference with his keynote address. Befitting the modern art atmosphere, Matt began with the story of Alexander Calder, the renowned American sculptor who began his career as an mechanical engineer. Drawing parallels to the innovation process itself, the story illustrated the significance of “thinking outside the frame” to produce something entirely new to the world—which in Calder’s case, was his invention of the mobile as we know it today.
Turning to the current state of the industry, Matt then discussed Brightidea’s vision of the innovation management landscape, arrived in large part thanks to the work and feedback of our customers. What began with simple idea management eventually led to our development of multifunctional innovation apps, now used to create nearly 75% of all new initiatives and saving customers over $750,000 in setup time. What’s more, our customers have collectively reported a total of $1.68 billion in business impact from innovation—a figure that was recently verified by auditors at Price Waterhouse Coopers (can any of our competitors say the same?). With these impressive stats as as a backdrop, Matt then presented a preview of Brightidea’s new product portfolio, developed from what we’ve learned of how corporate innovation has evolved.
Matt rounded out his keynote with inspiring words on the exponentially rising importance of the role of corporate innovation leaders and of innovation in general—not just as an instrument of commercial success, but also an agent of human progress and ultimately the quest to make the world a better place.
Honoring Top Achievers
Driving home the message that innovation program managers are the ones leading the charge in corporate innovation, the agenda shifted to the Brightidea Innovation Awards. After all, our customers are accomplishing some pretty amazing things in their innovation programs—often against many odds—and if it weren’t for them, neither our company nor our industry-leading platform would be where they are today. Every year at Synthesize, we recognize customers with the highest achieving programs. At this year’s event, our new VP of Sales, Cameron Ackbury presented awards to six of them: Bobcat, Quicken Loans, Allstate, US Bank, GE Additive and GE Genius Link. We’re proud to honor these innovation program managers as the best in the world!
Hearing from Heavy Hitters
The spotlight on our customers continued with presentations by three of them: Ed Danis of Lockheed Martin, Stephanie Hammes-Betti and Russ Gowda of US Bank, and Joshua Mook of GE Additive, all of whom gave compelling talks on the evolution, outcomes, and lessons learned from their innovation programs. The common thread? Behemoths in their respective industries, these companies manage to move nimbly and stay ahead of the competitive curve by their sheer drive and commitment to innovation. As a casual counterpoint to their more formal presentations, each talk was followed by a lively Q&A as a fireside chat with Matt Greeley. The conversations gave the audience a closer look into what makes innovation so successful at these companies.
Talking with a Startup Veteran
Continuing in the vein of an on-stage conversation with Matt, author Eric Ries took to the stage and told compelling stories of his early days in the startup world and, at times, colorful experiences with venture capitalists. He touched on his latest book, The Startup Way and its deep dive into how established, but forward thinking, companies are using entrepreneurial management to transform culture, drive growth, and evolve their competitive strategies. With his rapid-fire cadence, he captivated the audience and managed to elicit a good bit of laughter. Following their talk, Eric made himself available in the museum’s atrium to sign free copies of his book for conference attendees.
Unveiling the New Release
Every year at Synthesize, we unveil the latest release of the Brightidea platform. While the aim was no different this year, the delivery certainly was. We decided to introduce the formal presentation with a little fun: an on-stage skit featuring the entire Product team reenacting a brief version of the months-long decision process to add new apps, features, and functionality—all with a dollop of creative license, of course!
Following the skit, VP of Product, Genevieve Wang got down to business with a full-on presentation of the bold new product strategy that Matt touched on in his keynote. It included an introduction to Brightidea’s new product portfolio, including an entirely new product for corporate innovation labs; an unveiling of six new innovation apps; and a series of demonstrations on some awesome new features of the platform. For details on the new release, be sure to check out the blog post, Brightidea Fall 2017 Release: A Bold New Strategy.
Mingling With the Like-Minded
With its talks, presentations, and performances, the first day of Synthesize certainly packed in a lot. And so, by the end of the day, attendees were ready to unwind at the post-conference party on the rooftop lounge of SFMOMA. Amidst a collection of modern art sculptures and the dramatic backdrop of downtown San Francisco, customers, partners, media, and Brightidea team members mingled, indulged, and grooved to the rhythms of our resident DJ Joey Larko.
Moving to a Different Vibe
But wait! There was one more thing. After all, on what better note is there to end an innovation conference in an art museum than with a performance by an innovative artist? Staying true to the aim of inspiring attendees with a modern take on creativity, Brightidea hosted a live performance by world-renowned Italian pianist and composer, Ludovico Einaudi. Suffusing SFMOMA’s Watts Theatre with his luminous, emotive, and supremely refined music, Ludovico left members of the audience refreshed and further inspired at the end of this first day of Synthesize.
Closing Out the First Day
Without a doubt, the first day of Synthesize 2017 was a resounding success. But just as with the Brightidea innovation platform itself, it was our customers who have made it what it is today. Their involvement, energy, and enthusiasm have been instrumental in making this the premier conference for corporate innovation leaders—a gathering of its kind that’s second to none!
Be sure to check back here soon for coverage of the in-depth workshops held on the second day of Synthesize.