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Thought Leaders in Big Data: Naveen Sharma, Chief Innovation Officer, Retail, Xerox (Part 6)

Posted on Thursday, Jan 30th 2014

Naveen Sharma: Many of our current service offerings started off as XTIN projects. Take for example our Ignite offering, which was the result of  a bunch of researchers who had young children who were interested in how to use technology to personalize education. They went to K to 5 classrooms and observed how the teacher and students interact and built a system that helped teachers better assess students so that they can individualize help. Ignite is not only a great example of how XTIN helps Xerox fund and develop new service offerings, but it is also a great example of intrapreneurship. When this idea came about, there was no value-chain yet. We funded and explored it, and now have created a value-chain for this research.

There are multiple examples which started as internal incubation projects that have grown into either a particular innovation that a business group will take over or become a business of their own.

Sramana Mitra: As I’m listening to you, the one thing that strikes me in this discussion is that Xerox is still following more of the research lab model, which has been the traditional Xerox strategy for a long time. There are dedicated researchers who are trying to innovate inside of Xerox. The trend right now with a lot of very large companies is that they’re doing more open innovation inside of the company. For example, if you have a large company with 10,000 people, not just a lab of 50 people or a lab of 100 people but the entire organization gets to participate in this idea or innovation drive or intrapreneurship challenge and then ideas bubble up.

The companies who are running these kinds of programs are setting up processes so that the ideas get screened and some of them get to the next level and get some more resources to develop those ideas more. It’s like a funnel that starts at the level of the entire organization, not just small research lab level.

Naveen Sharma:  We really have a hybrid model that takes our traditional research pipeline model to the next level by embracing open innovation. I hadn’t mentioned yet how active we are in open innovation including working with a large number of universities, external innovation firms such as NineSigma, and customer-led innovation efforts.  For example, our customer dreaming sessions – where we invite and work closely with our customers to brainstorm solutions to their most pressing problems – have been a part of our innovation process for many years. As research continues to be conducted in the wild, we are innovating outside the lab – literally on the streets, in parking lots, classrooms, and hospitals. This aspect of open innovation is exciting and invigorating our research.

Sramana Mitra: Thank you very much for your time, Naveen.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Thought Leaders in Big Data: Naveen Sharma, Chief Innovation Officer, Retail, Xerox
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