Happy 10th birthday, Exago!

In a historic building in Lisbon, overlooking the Tagus river, Exago celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday, November 24. It was the perfect opportunity to bring together the people who are part of us and our history: our team (past and present), our clients and our partners.

We would like to thank all those who joined us in celebrating this milestone, which marks a decade of collaborative work to help businesses innovate, while engaging over one million users across the world to build their organisation’s future.

Here’s to another 10 years of making innovation happen!

Exago partners with Microsoft for optimal innovation software performance

Exago announces a technological and business partnership with Microsoft, to strengthen its product scalability and performance and to accelerate growth in sales. Now hosted by the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform, Exago’s collaborative innovation SaaS solution is fully set to grow alongside corporate innovation programmes, supporting unlimited users’ increase in multiple geographical locations. The software is already available in eight different language options.

Exago’s CEO, Diana Neves de Carvalho, explains that this technological partnership “answers clients’ increasing security concerns worldwide. Exago’s infrastructure, hosted by Microsoft Azure, can now guarantee total network and perimeter security, as well as compliance with all major industry standards”. Based on the most frequently used web technologies, Microsoft software ensures fast and controlled upgrades, as well as business continuity.

Exago and Microsoft will be working together to open new business channels and explore strategic markets. Recognising the needs of start-ups and small- and medium-sized companies that develop technology solutions, Microsoft also wants to accelerate existing and new solutions and applications to the market. “Exago’s Idea Market software allows companies to efficiently manage their innovation challenges and continuously find new solutions and growth paths. We therefore believe we are investing in the future,” says Diogo Pinto de Sousa, Partners Director at Microsoft.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services, devices and solutions that help people and businesses realise their full potential.

The rise of open innovation

Just a little over two decades ago, engaging external stakeholders was a rare thing. Now, open innovation is trendy. Why is this? For a start, change has become the rule:

// You have to do it first and fast, all the time. Strategy life cycles have become shorter.

// Markets fluctuate; preferences and consumer behaviour change. Trends and businesses arise, grow and die faster than ever.

// The world is more and more social and interconnected. The distances between companies and individuals have become smaller. Online dynamics connect people and contexts previously inaccessible to each other.

// Value networks and ecosystems such as Linux, Facebook or Wikipedia have decreased the control of single companies by disseminating knowledge. They have created new ecosystems, decentralising and relocating the power of control and production.

// Consumers want to have their say, as the power has shifted from producers to consumers. Decentralised, non-hierarchical and inclusive of every individual, the Internet allows people with common interests to unite. Consumers have become, as never before, involved directly and indirectly, in both praise and criticism. This means not only that they can make conscious, informed decisions but also that they can contribute to the process of decision-making upstream.

// You want to attract the best. In this competitive world, you need to attract top talent and experts, as well as the most creative minds. Generation Y (people born during the 1980s or 90s) has already integrated into the labour market, with their different tech habits and life aspirations. Soon Generation Z (those born at the end of the 1990s and into the beginning of the new millennium) will follow, so you need to make sure you seize their contributions.

In addition, a centralised approach to innovation as ‘research and development’ is by now obsolete. Innovation has gone far beyond ‘the confines of research labs to users, suppliers and consumers everywhere – in government, business and non-profit organisations, across borders, across sectors and across institutions’, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Innovation has opened doors, capturing both internal and external sources of ideas.

But where does this idea originally come from? And where can it take us?

Pedro da Cunha, Exago’s co-founder/ pdc@exago.com

The promise of open innovation

Open innovation and the fight for your audience

10 best practices for cross-border innovation. Are you set to go?

Photo: borzywoj@shutterstock.com

The biggest challenge multinational companies face today is how to build an organisation where collaboration is sustainably enabled by technology, processes, capabilities and behaviours. Where collective intelligence becomes the ‘muscle’ behind innovation. And where people, individually and as teams, work beyond their job description, and everyone, anywhere, can make a difference.

To make sure your idea management programme does thrive, remember then to:

1. Get leadership’s commitment: Not just their sponsorship.

2. Secure a budget, at least a three-year budget: Minimising risk of short term shut-down.

3. Gather and prepare your human resources: Find and train local innovation advocates and ambassadors to liaise with the other branches and the headquarters.

4. Define a higher purpose: Make sure someone on the other side of the world feels they can contribute to the growth and sustainability of the entire organisation.

5. Find (local) relevance: Get to know people’s needs and aspirations and launch local challenges.

6. Communicate always: And adapt the communication plan to local habits and ‘flavours’. Remember that the challenges themselves, the positive incentives provided, have to be aligned with a common and clear purpose that is publicly communicated.

7. Define an appealing incentives plan: Motivate each branch to be the best in class by giving them visibility and recognition, as teams and individually.

8. Use social tools wisely: Use a collaborative model for the participation of a large and diversified group of people, as well as game mechanisms, to make participation fun, engaging and continuous.

9. Be transparent: Idea management programmes need to embed the sense of proximity in participants and depend on the transparency of the process to gain credibility. Prediction markets are a powerful and highly transparent way to do it.

10. Get, measure and share results: And turn the best ideas into projects.

Never forget that people really want to be listened to and to be part of the process. You must mobilise them and keep them involved around meaningful business challenges.

This also means that, throughout the process, you have to empower your local branches, give them a mandate and autonomy. Get their buy-in into the programme. Empowerment comes with responsibility.

To give the extra edge is also an extra responsibility on top of someone’s day job. So, finally, if you want to get your people’s attention and encourage them to participate, across cultures and countries, equip yourself to be positive, resilient, and to lead the way.

Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder

Innovation programme across borders: 10 best practices to make it work

10 best practices for cross-border innovation. Number 10 is all about results

Photo: masch@pixabay.com

No returns, no play. Many innovation programmes have been shut down based on this mindset. How to make sure that yours won’t? Our services and software teams have joined efforts to create a structured model that makes sure idea management works and you, as an innovation executive, regain control of your mission. We have thus developed an idea management formula that produces results. Always.

This equation is the product of many years of practice, building on expertise in several multinationals. Perfected to achieve tangible outcomes efficiently and sustainably, it reveals that compelling results are achieved when you succeed in engaging your people and multiply that engagement by a strong shared purpose.

Nevertheless, results do take time. Innovation is a process of trial and error. Most innovations come with steady, continuous improvement. So, you have to capture every single win at the beginning and throughout the process, an incremental idea that is well supported, significant levels of participation – in both specific branch, country and corporate challenges. Learn also how to establish your own metrics.

Your idea management programmes can deliver profound, often unexpected ‘intangible’ additional deliverables. Do not neglect them: engagement and strategy alignment outcomes; talent spotting; increased implementation opportunities. And once more, remember to share and celebrate the individual and community’s achievement.

# Quick-wins are wins
# Learn to measure results, also the intangible
# Prevent selected ideas from falling into the implementation void

Pedro do Carmo Costa, Exago’s director and co-founder

Are you set to go?

Innovation programme across borders: 10 best practices to make it work