Optimizing Innovation – Joe Boggio and Michael Steep of Microsoft

by Braden Kelley

Michael Steep of Microsoft
Joe Boggio of MicrosoftWe are happy to bring you some of the key points and insights from Joe Boggio and Michael Steep’s talk at the Optimizing Innovation Conference, which was held October 21-22, 2009 in New York City.

Joe Boggio, Director of Innovation Management Solutions and Michael Steep, Chief of Operations at Microsoft spoke about:

  • Innovation at Microsoft
  • Building Open Innovation Competencies
  • Technology Enabled Innovation

Mike Steep sits on a team that looks at cross-Microsoft innovations. Innovation at Microsoft from amongst its 90,000 people, breaks down time horizons as follows:

  • Present -> Product Groups (40,000 in product groups)
  • 2-4 yrs -> Microsoft Labs (maybe 200 in the lab environment)
  • 5-10 yrs -> Microsoft Research (800-1000)

The challenge Microsoft has is leveraging their technical capability to lead the industry in a new way in the future, while working against the challenge of the short-term focus of each product group.

There are three main innovation processes at Microsoft:

  1. Think Week – any employee can write a paper about a topic – 300+ papers used to be read by Bill Gates, but Steve Ballmer and execs do now
  2. High level architecure process
  3. Trying to figure out ways to bring customers into the process

Microsoft is in all of the top 100 companies and unfortunately, talking to our customers sometimes results in more short-term thinking being fed back by customers.

They’ve built a new Innovation Outreach Program:

  • They talked to lots of the leading 100 companies and their innovation leaders
  • They themselves as matchmakers in matching people newer to innovation with those farther along
  • Strategy & implementation are key challenges for innovation leaders
  • They now are engaged with 15 companies and out of that 6 joint ventures have emerged from among the companies
  • After bringing together ten non-competing companies and government agencies, the biggest value they said was the ability for them to talk to each other. They didn’t tend to call each other before the gathering.
  • They’ve found the business model discussion to be as important as the technical discussion (the Innovation Outreach Program)

The Microsoft approach to innovation management leverages SharePoint:

Engage -> Evolve -> Evaluate -> Execute

Microsoft is leveraging partner network to create business models for product prototypes they are working on, and bringing their offering to market as software via Codeplex and as services via Microsoft Consulting.

Optimizing Innovation Conference


Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is the editor of Blogging Innovation and founder of Business Strategy Innovation, a consultancy focusing on innovation and marketing strategy. Braden is also @innovate on Twitter.

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