Removing red tape — it’s a mantra of IBM’s CIO Jeff Smith. The Wall Street Journal’s recent article, IBM CIO Pushes Leadership Down the Ladder, does an incredible job of describing Jeff’s cultural and execution philosophy and the impact it has on current innovations at IBM. Here is a key snippet from the article: The culture that he is developing is based on four priorities: “Clarity is more important than certainty, course correction is more important than perfection, self-directed teams work better than command and control, and innovation is for everyone, not just the select few,” Mr. Smith said. IBM is successfully creating a culture of intrapreneurial execution, using the power of crowdsourcing in many unique ways to drive innovation forward faster.
As you may imagine, successful intrapreneurship programs take governance, and IBM’s may be the best example on the planet.
IBM’s ifundIT program: crowdfunding + crowdsourcing to go faster
IBM ifundIT is IBM's enterprise crowdfunding program that is being used to drive innovation inside the company. IBM employees around the world are making an impact by funding the creation of apps that make work easier — from finding people who are socially influential to analyzing how big an impact an internal app is having on fellow employees. IBM’s ifundIT program flips many traditional IT processes on their heads, with impressive results. Their methodology is novel and simple:
- When an employee has an idea, he or she submits it to ifundIT.
- IBM employees can easily research and support the best application ideas with internal IBM dollars they’ve been designated - think Kickstarter, but instead, crowdfunding inside the organization).
- Ideas that meet their funding targets are then built into minimum viable products (MVP). Topcoder is one of the vehicles used to crowdsource the execution of the app idea.
Tapping into the Topcoder community of 900,000+ designers and developers at this crucial stage of innovation execution helps IBM run a lean and agile ifundIT program. IBM intrapreneurs gain the benefit of being able to access on-demand design and development talent to help them take their idea off of paper and execute on it very quickly. An ifundIT goal is to help an IBMer sprint from vetted idea through design, wireframes, and prototyping, and into MVP status in about 8 weeks’ time. Crowdsourcing is helping them meet these execution timelines.
Raising an army of IBM Bluemix designers and developers ifundIT is a popular program within IBM and it’s growing. Since December of 2014, IBM has used Topcoder to design over 35 mobile projects. Recently, IBM announced a 4-month design and development challenge series called Spring Into Bluemix,with over half a million dollars in cash prizes that will leverage Topcoder. Formally introducing Bluemix to the Topcoder community through the Spring Into Bluemix challenge series will help IBM raise an army of design and development talent around their cloud ecosystem. We can expect a lot of creative app development to take place, including IoT apps, cognitive apps powered by Watson, Big Data visualization apps, and more.
A bit more on IBM Bluemix
Tying this effort back to intrapreneurship and ifundIT, here’s some more information on Bluemix and why IBM teams like Watson are joining this program. IBM Bluemix is a cloud platform as a service, running on Cloud Foundry, Docker, and OpenStack. It supports several programming languages and services as well as integrated DevOps to build, run, deploy, and manage applications on the cloud. Bluemix supports Java, Node.js, Go, PHP, Python, and Ruby and can be easily extended to support other languages as well. Bluemix also provides pre-built Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS) capabilities. The goal is to simplify the delivery of an application by providing services that are ready for immediate use and hosting capabilities to enable web-scale deployment. The next phase — building out an army of designers and developers who truly understand how to best yield the powerful Bluemix cloud platform — is all about scale. As IBM looks to expand ifundIT, they’re going to need talented designers and developers to greatly enhance their bandwidth and answer the growing demand for solutions built on Bluemix. Our Topcoder community is set to grow with them through this Spring Into Bluemix challenge series. As our community grows and masters new technology skills, so does the opportunity to use crowdsourcing to execute better on your digital initiatives.
The next phase — building out an army of designers and developers who truly understand how to best yield the powerful Bluemix cloud platform — is all about scale. As IBM looks to expand ifundIT, they’re going to need talented designers and developers to greatly enhance their bandwidth and answer the growing demand for solutions built on Bluemix. The Topcoder community is set to grow with them through this Spring Into Bluemix challenge series. As our community grows and masters new technology skills, so does the opportunity to use crowdsourcing to execute better on your digital initiatives.