I’ve been blogging recently about how we as IT leaders can improve the way we innovate—something we need to do if we want to deliver transformative innovations that do more than just keep the lights on a little better.  I’ve identified the need to commit resources to innovation, create a culture that supports disciplined creativity and risk-taking, and define problems in ways that encourage transformational thinking.

Today, I’d like to share more about the process Intel IT uses for innovation, focusing on IT as an applied science. After all, in IT, we typically don’t design breakthrough technologies. We learn what technologies are available and on the horizon, and develop new ways of applying them to deliver business value.

At Intel, our corporate research arm, Intel Labs, runs an extensive program to create those breakthrough technologies. Within Intel IT, we use a similar model to help us apply those technologies and other innovations to create business value. We’ve established our own Intel IT Lab with our own innovation centers, and we follow a measured, disciplined process to move from idea to implementation—or trashcan, since not all ideas come to fruition.  We call our process the “Idea Pipeline.”



Idea_Pipeline Image.PNG


This picture shows the process steps used by the Intel IT Labs and the expected yields from each step through the idea pipeline.  We look at our yields through each of these steps as a way to measure our investments.


Intel IT Idea Pipeline_YT Image.png


Moving through these phases, we evaluate whether the research idea has enough perceived future value and determine if there is available technology available that we should look into more.  Then, we do the Proof of Technology and if the technology is not ready or we find that it doesn’t meet our needs, this is where the work stops.  Otherwise we assemble a team and prove the concept. We might or might not run a pilot. If the results are promising, transition to the appropriate team in IT happens and a project kicks off.


We expect low yield in the research phase, a middle range in proof of technology and proof of concepts and by the time we get to the transformation step, the yield should be high. If we see percentages too high at the first few steps, we know that we aren’t taking enough risk in what we are looking at to truly help the organization.


The Intel IT innovation centers are places where we can bring together people, ideas, technologies, and possibilities to increasing cross-organizational collaboration.  The IT innovations centers have as their motto: “The Place where Innovation is put into Action.”


Does your IT organization follow a formal ideal and innovation process? Do you have an IT Lab organization and or innovation centers? I’d like to hear what’s working for you.


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