EMC Innovation Conference – day 2a

Continuing from the good start on day 1 (10/21/2008), the second and final day of the conference (10/22/2008) began with a world tour of EMC’s Centers of Excellence in China, India, Russia and Ireland. It was great to see a large remote gathering at each site via live video feed. The leadership of each center discussed how they innovate current EMC products and research the next generation of offerings. There was plenty of energy apparent in each team. Notes from this session:

  • India is the largest and most tenured CoE, and this year its innovation showcase submissions alone outnumbered all submissions last year (i.e. the first year of the showcase).
  • China is a much younger CoE, yet it already represents a significant percentage of innovations submitted this year. Where will the China CoE be at the same point in its history? Or Russia? Or elsewhere?
  • The CoE concept has the advantage of multiple products being developed under the same roof (e.g. benefits of co-location collaboration, etc.).
  • The “Great Wall” in the China CoE is a large, lengthy wall that acts as a whiteboard dedicated to capturing innovation.
  • As we do in CMA, the China CoE has site-wide wiki and collaboration is encouraged.
  • I’m a fan of Charles Fan, head of the China CoE, and it was a pleasure to meet and talk with him in person. Consider, for example, his perspective on hiring talent (with which I agree): It’s all about building EMC’s brand. A very selective hiring process–one that targets the best of the best–means that few are hired into EMC; however, many more candidates and applicants are exposed to what EMC is all about. Furthermore, many of those not hired become employees of EMC’s customers.

Next, there was a panel discussion about driving innovation within several EMC business units (i.e. which processes and programs work and which don’t). Doc D’Errico was an effective moderator of Rich Napolitano, Amnon Naamad and Mark Sorensen. Notes from this session (raw):

  • Convergence – process/workflow
  • Technologists maturing into business people
  • Rid complexity (!…and reduce engineering cost); simplify to enable technology adoption by customers
  • Tyranny of the installed base–the innovator’s dilemma
  • Quarter-based drivers versus long-term strategy
  • Critical transition for a successful startup: making the move from idea to value proposition; therefore, pay attention to wider industry and look for such events
  • Practice of “R&D grants”: receipt of one rewards recipient with 1 day/week to pursue idea (e.g. 10 people in a 2000-person organization)
  • (Music to my ears…) First architect; then implement.
  • Not being able to measure is no reason not to start. Start!
  • Forrest floor…big trees block out the light; develop others by allowing light hit the “sapplings”
  • Encourage risk-taking (don’t reward failure)
  • Mark captured Rich’s “army of innovators” remark, which I fully align myself to (versus an ivory innovation tower approach)

More to come in a follow-up post…some of which I see already captured here