Innovation Wizards: Light up the Room

Tip #1 – Pitch to your CEO

Use clear language to describe what you did.

 A longtime Genius Awards judge and formerly the Chief of Customer Insight and Innovation at Foursquare, as well as CEO of ARF, Gayle Fuguitt is looking to reward developments that are, in her own words, “at the bleeding edge of analytics solutions at this moment in time.” But she and the other judges don’t want to read a PhD dissertation on gradient boosting machine learning. Don’t diminish your technical achievements, but make sure you use clear, non-technical language to describe what you did. Imagine you’re presenting your results to your CEO.

Tip #2 – Show you’re an industry leader

Spell out why your solution is innovative in your industry

Damian Fernandez-Lamela, the VP of Global Analytics at Fossil Group, has steered a few winning submissions in the past. In his most recent win, he highlighted how the company used natural language processing techniques to scan through volumes of customer feedback and quickly identify promising new features for Fossil’s products. In and of itself, the NPL algorithms weren’t anything new, but the data and application domain were. “We thought we did something different, something that hadn’t been done before, at least not in our industry.” Show the judges that your solution broke new ground in your industry.

Tip #3 – Size up the impact you’ve made

Quantify the impact of your innovation on your organization

One of the first questions that Fuguitt asks is: “What was the magnitude of the problem?” It’s better if your innovation—whether it’s a new technique, or a new way to work—helped address a major challenge for your organization rather than a marginal issue. You also want to demonstrate how your work gained traction at your company. “It’s all nice and fancy,” says Fernandez-Lamela, “but if you don’t get the business to adopt the insights and do something with them, then all your work goes to waste.”

Tip #4 – Discuss next steps

Share shortcomings, and how you’re planning to address them in the future

Every good research paper ends with an honest discussion of the project’s shortcomings, as well as a review of future lines of investigation. Similarly, while bold innovations open exciting new doors for the business, they also come with substantial risks. Show the judges that you’ve measured those risks, and that you’re taking steps to address them. You might, for instance, discuss how you intend to improve the quality of the data that feeds into your training algorithms, or how you intend to maintain high adoption rates among stakeholders. Outline how your project is part of your company’s analytics journey, not the end-all.

(Interested in tips for the other award categories? Click on the associated links here: GrowthAdoption, and Storytelling)