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Progressive crowdsources its way to business, IT innovation

Clint Boulton | Dec. 7, 2015
Progressive’s Edison program includes startup-like pitch contests, hackathons and expositions to showcase innovation spawned by business and IT collaboration.

The 19 ideas were reduced to 10, including digital capabilities that would allow Progressive customers to donate their insurance savings to charities. Other services are geared toward driver safety, including features intended for smartphones that provide tutorials on optimal motor vehicle operations, as well as alternate routes that enable drivers to avoid delays caused by accidents. Another potential service uses analytics software to help customers select the right insurance products. 

In July, these ideas proceeded into the Business Innovation Garage (BIG), where insurance services are prototyped and developed before they are ushered to market. In BIG, five IT "mechanics" used public cloud software and other tools to help teams prototype their products.

Progressive in late August and September held two code jams, essentially hackathons where Edison idea teams and volunteer “jammers” worked on their ideas. And in October, the company hosted an exposition at the company's Mayfield Village, Ohio, headquarters, where teams of the top 10 ideas showed senior executives and rank-and-file employees their work from booths, and in motor vehicles. The expo allowed execs and employees see what can happen when "employees get cross-functional teams together and use IT services to prototype these ideas."

Members of the executive team assigned business leaders to two out of the 10 ideas, though Baginski declined to specify which two received the green light. But, she says, Edison will work with the business leaders to track those projects and make sure they get to market. The other eight ideas won't be discarded; some of them may be incorporated into other strategic plans in the future.

“I’ve tried to pull all of it together into an innovation services program and that’s really where we’re headed and what we’re focused on,” Baginski says.

She says she hopes the efforts progress through Edison, which has already enjoyed some success: Mobile device management software to enhance employees’ productivity via smartphones and insurance coverage for classic cars both developed under the aegis of Edison.


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