Global Collaboration via Competition

Global Collaboration via CompetitionOne of the unique aspects of the global idea contest that EMC runs each year is the fact that it is a competition fostering global collaboration.  In 2011, hundreds of employee ideas are competing to win one of twenty-one sponsored awards.

The contest is an effort to grow new lines of business, create new services,implement new business processes, and/or propose new products.

On the other hand, however, the contest has a goal of “fostering global collaboration”. In a previous post I highlighted EMC’s use of analytic software to highlight “clusters” of employees that leverage collaboration to increase the odds of becoming a finalist.

The chart below is a look at the global span of the competition. From June through August employees from multiple countries enter their ideas into a common idea portal. The circles below indicate how many ideas originated from the specific country highlighted on the map.


One interesting point to make about this graph is the high participation counts coming from Ireland (358) and India (323). One theory that explains this result is the fact that in 2010 Ireland hosted EMC’s yearly Innovation Conference. India hosted it in 2009. The Conference is a day-long innovation event held at different global locations. One location is chosen to “host” EMC’s Chief Technology Officer (Jeff Nick), who announces the “Best in Show and Winning Ideas” during a broadcast that is streamed live to multiple locations. The hosting of this conference is a significant event and the chart above shows that employees at hosting locations continue their high level of participation in subsequent years.

Twenty-one EMC business units sponsored idea challenges during this year’s event (winners will be announced at the end of November). These business units range from Sales, to Human Resources, to product divisions, to Diversity and Inclusion, and to EMC’s Sustainability team. Each business unit promotes the best ideas to the level of “finalist”. These finalists are invited to make a live presentation to the judges of each business unit in an attempt to “win” the sponsor’s commitment to incubate the idea in 2012.

One of the pieces of data that is most interesting to measure from an analytics standpoint is the global locations of the finalists for a given award.  EMC’s Greenplum (database) division sponsored a challenge asking employees to come up with new use cases that are relevant to the database market.


In this example the Greenplum division selected a finalist from China, two from India, one from Ireland, two from Russia, and one from the United States. These finalists are often asked to join together into teams and make a joint presentation to the sponsors.

The use of analytics to comb through this data is a validation that the goal of global collaboration between employees is being achieved.  In future posts I’ll discuss how these teams of individuals receive “coaching” from EMC marketing consultants as a way of putting their best foot forward when selling their idea.

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Steve ToddSteve Todd is a high-tech inventor and author of the book “Innovate With Global Influence“. An EMC Intrapreneur with over 150 patent applications and billions in product revenue, he writes about innovation on his personal blog, the Information Playground.

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