Dive into Atlanta’s Innovation Ecosystem

Want to see how companies like Home Depot, Southern Co., Anthem, Delta Air Lines, and others are building the future in Atlanta’s Tech Square?

Join us for an upcoming Field Study, April 25-27, as we team up with Georgia Tech to explore the Atlanta innovation ecosystem. We’ll drop in on Google and the Porsche Experience Center, visit corporate innovation labs at TechSquare, interact with startups, and catch the GeorgiaTech “Capstone Expo,” where 100+ grad students will be demo’ing the latest cutting-edge technologies.

The Atlanta innovation ecosystem is one of the most dynamic recruiting and development environments in the U.S. Come see how large companies are plugging into it — and how they’re benefitting.

Site Visits

Home Depot: Visit Home Depot’s headquarters and “Store Support Center”, where we’ll have an interactive conversation with two senior Home Depot strategy executives and the CEO of Blinds.com.

Google Atlanta: Tour Google’s Atlanta office, where we’ll hear about their latest product launch, Google Home, and learn more about their AI and machine learning efforts.

porschePorsche North American HQ: We'll take a quick tour of One Porsche Drive; where you’ll learn about their growing culture of innovation and their new Porsche Experience Center. You'll also have the optional opportunity to try out Porsche's Simulator Lab, or test drive a car. *Simulator rides are on a first come first serve basis, and test drives are at an additional cost. Make sure to let us know if you'd like to join us!  

Delta Air Lines Global Innovation Center: "The Hangar": Visit Delta’s collaborative research center, the first of its kind in the airline industry, to learn how Delta’s innovation team is using crowdsourcing and hackathons to identify and develop ideas and programs that improve operations, enhance the customer experience, and increase customer satisfaction.

The Anthem Innovation Studio: Tour Anthem’s innovation center and learn how the $85 million insurer is using a multi-disciplinary team focused on developing and implementing new technologies to deliver a more personalized healthcare experience to its customers.

Southern Company’s Energy Innovation Center: Visit Southern Company’s innovation center, where we’ll explore ways to drive innovation engagement in the organization and learn more about the So Prize, an internal competition for Southern Co. employees that generated close to 1,000 ideas, six of which have been approved for pilot programs.

Interactive Whiteboard Sessions

The Field Study eschews keynotes, PowerPoints, or speakers. Rather, our sessions are small, off-the-record conversations that enable participants to share and compare their approaches. Among the interactive “whiteboard sessions” you’ll actively participate in:
Managing the Innovation Pipeline at Humana
Developing an innovation pipeline is one challenge; actively managing an innovation portfolio is another. This session — led by Roberto Roitz, an innovator at the venture arm of the $54 billion health giant Humana — will explore common practices for reviewing, evaluating and progressing innovations while considering costs, risks and resources. Please come ready to share your particular challenges, lessons and/or recommendations regarding your company’s innovation pipeline, or bring questions you’d like answered about process, policy and practices.
Innovation DNA: Balancing the Creation of Innovations and Innovators at Fidelity
As Innovation Leader members know from our visits to Fidelity Labs in Boston, the 70-year-old Fidelity Investments is an organization focused on innovatively evolving it's businesses. With 50,000 employees, $2 trillion under management and $5 trillion under administration, that’s no simple task. This session, led by Fidelity Labs VP of Innovation Programs Tony Parham, will explore the programs and processes that have been developed to create innovative products, services and businesses -- while also cultivating “Innovation DNA” in all Fidelity Associates. Please come prepared to discuss some of the tactics your organization has leveraged to launch innovative projects and to seed innovation throughout the enterprise. Please also bring questions you’d like answered by our facilitator and by the innovation executives who will join you in this timely conversation.
How Wayne Gretzky Kills Innovation; the Predictability Rule
“Skate where the puck is going, not to where it has been.” That maxim, attributed (inaccurately, by the way) to hockey great Wayne Gretzky, has become one of the great innovation PowerPoint clichés. Under many circumstances, it’s also wrong,, according to Ken Durand, Head of Innovation at Ericsson’s Atlanta Idea Factory. This session will explore how the “Gretzky Rule” can destroy the value-added innovation that product organizations are looking to create. Please come prepared to share some of your own company’s challenges, war stories, pitfalls and lessons when it comes to innovation strategy.
Working with Startups at Stanley Black & Decker
Most companies are working with startups in their markets, but many have struggled with optimizing value and ROI from their accelerators, incubators, colocation or venture groups. This session, led by Larry Harper, VP of Stanley Ventures — the investment arm of the $11 billion power tool company Stanley Black & Decker — will explore how they have brought mentorship, scale and resources to early stage companies to accelerate their growth and provide the parent company with new innovative products. Please come prepared to discuss some of the successes and challenges of your own venture group, or bring questions you need answered about corporate venture capital.
Innovating the Brand at Turner Classic Movies
As Turner Classic Movies — the television network that’s part of the $29 billion Time Warner empire — began shifting to a “fan engagement company,” common questions began to emerge. How do you extend core features of your brand? What’s the right business model to employ? How do you avoid “inauthenticity”? What might be replicable to other brands? This session, led by TCM’s Head of Strategy Shannon Clute, will explore some of the lessons, challenges, consequences and opportunities associated with innovation via brand extension. Please come ready to discuss some of your own learnings and challenges, or come prepared with issues you might want to explore together.
Innovation Through Creative Partnerships at UPS
As Innovation Leader has covered extensively, companies are taking unique approaches to co-creation, collaboration, and Open Innovation. We’ll see some of that collaboration in action in Atlanta, where many corporate innovation labs are working closely with Georgia Tech and the university ecosystem. But other models exist. At this session, David Lee, VP Innovation & Strategic Enterprise Fund at the $61 billion logistics company UPS, will explore approaches to building relationships with startups, universities, agencies, accelerators, corporations, and other parties to bring new capabilities to your company. Please come prepared to discuss your company’s approach to co-creation and collaboration, or to ask questions and discuss challenges related to ecosystem development and participation.
Working With Business Units at Anthem
According to Innovation Leader’s 2015 Benchmarking Report, more than 50 percent of respondents said that innovation projects get axed because of “no business unit buy-in.” In other words, the “Not-Invented-Here Syndrome,” often referred to as “organ rejection” in large companies, is a major killer of innovation. The innovation lab of the $85 billion healthcare company Anthem, which we will tour during the Field Study, has a unique relationship with its business units, and has created a “handoff” process to their enterprise IT organization that is worthy of review. SVP Healthcare Innovation and Technology David Crean and Corporate Strategy Director John Donahue will walk us through the handoff, and will explore the lessons and pitfalls learned at Anthem. Please come prepared to discuss some of the challenges, successes or lessons you’ve encountered when it comes to working with the business units.
Rapid Prototyping and Development at Digital Scientists
Balancing speed and risk is hard when building digital products and pursuing transformation goals. This session — led by the Atlanta-based design and development experts at Digital Scientists — will walk you through five approaches and techniques, and then discuss how they can be applied to your specific issues at your companies. Please come prepared to discuss any development methodologies you are employing (i.e., Design Thinking, Design Sprints, Time Boxing, Minimum Viable Products, etc.), and to discuss your specific challenges, issues, learnings, and approaches.
Increasing Employee-Driven Innovation at Imaginatik
Developing a dynamic innovation pipeline is one challenge; actively managing an innovation portfolio is another. Dynamic pipeline management works together with strategic portfolio management and a clear business/innovation strategy. This session — led by Roberto Roitz, an innovator at Humana’s corporate innovation and venture group – will explore common practices for developing, evaluating and accelerating innovations while considering costs, risks, and resources. Humana has 14.2 million medical members -- including 3.2 million Medicare Advantage members and 5.0 million Medicare prescription drug members -- with revenues of $54 billion in 2016. Please come ready to share your particular challenges, lessons and/or recommendations regarding your company’s innovation pipeline, or bring questions you’d like answered about process, discipline and best practices.

Check back for updates!

Tech Square: The Heart of Atlanta's Tech Scene.

Video produced by SandboxATL, the membership club for Tech Square.

Detailed Agenda

Tuesday, April 25th
4:00 p.m. Meet at the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown
866 West Peachtree St NW
5:00 p.m. Depart for the Capstone Design Expo
Walk to McCamish Pavilion
The Capstone Design Expo is one of the largest student design expos in the U.S. It is a showcase of Georgia Tech’s graduating seniors as they present their innovative projects. See the latest in robotics, drones, and other technologies.
6:30 p.m. Cocktail reception at Community Smith
866 West Peachtree St NW
Wednesday, April 26th
8:00 a.m. Breakfast, introductions and morning activity at Community Smith
866 West Peachtree St NW
9:45 a.m. Depart for TechSquare
Walk to 75 5th St NW
10:00 a.m. Tours:

  • Delta Air Lines “Hangar”: We will take a tour of the Hangar space, see a few quick demos, and chat with the head of the lab, Nicole Jones.
  • Anthem Innovation Studio: We will take a tour and hear from SVP David Crean and Corporate Strategy Director, John Donahue, about "How Anthem Makes the Handoff."
  • Southern Co. Energy Innovation Center: We will take a tour and hear from SVP Chuck Danville.
12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:30 p.m. Whiteboard sessions:

  • Innovation Training, Creating Innovations vs Innovators, Fidelity
  • Corporate Venture Capital, UPS
  • How Wayne Gretzky Killed Product Innovation, Ericsson
  • Employee-Driven Innovation, Imaginatik
3:00 p.m. Break, coffee, networking
3:30 p.m. Whiteboard sessions:

  • Working with Startups to Attain Value, Stanley Black and Decker
  • Working with Business Units, Anthem
  • Business Models and Brands, Turner Classic Movies
  • Chuck Danville, SVP marketing, innovation and planning at Southern Company
6:00 p.m. Dinner, reception, networking
Thursday, April 27th
7:45 a.m. Depart for Google Atlanta
10 10th St NE #600
8:00 a.m. Breakfast and networking
8:40 a.m. Tour of Google Atlanta

  • Q&A with Site Lead Matthew Pritchard on the space, the Atlanta innovation ecosystem, and more.
  • Discussion on Google Cloud, AI & Machine Learning
  • Demo on Google Home
10:00 a.m. Depart for Home Depot
Bus to 2455 Paces Ferry Rd SE
11:00 a.m. Tour Home Depot Store Support Center

  • Panel discussion with Home Depot execs and CEO of Blinds.com.
12:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m. Whiteboard sessions:

  • Managing the Innovation Pipeline, Humana
  • Skunkworks, Digital Scientists
  • Open-ended
2:00 p.m. Depart for Porsche
Bus to One Porsche Drive
3:00 p.m. Tour Porsche Experience Center

  • Hear from Porsche's VP of Innovation
  • See the race track, museum, and workspace
4:00 p.m. Optional: Simulator Lab Experience

5:00 p.m. Conclude, bus to airport

5:30 p.m. Optional: Demo Laps for Purchase

Register to Attend

PLEASE NOTE: Our Field Studies are for corporate executives only. Consultants, advisors, software vendors, and others who market products or services to corporate executives may not attend the Field Study and registration fees will be refunded. Questions? Contact us »

Travel & Hotel Information

We have a room block at the Renaissance Atlanta Midtown.
Address: 866 West Peachtree St NW, Atlanta, GA 30308
Phone: (678) 412-2400

Book your room here to receive Innovation Leader's discounted rate. Your last day to book is April 4.

Field Guides

Many thanks to our Field Guides for their support and expertise in developing this Field Study:

Imaginatik: "World's first" full-service innovation firm, supporting global organizations seeking to grow and deliver results.

Digital Scientists: We are a software innovation lab – an integrated team of designers and developers using the latest frameworks and tools to deliver awesome new software products. We partner with forward-thinking businesses to create mobile apps, websites, ecommerce stores and internet of things (IoT) applications. Established in 2007, we are proud to call metro Atlanta home. We believe in taking a "design thinking" approach to solving complex problems for users.

Georgia Tech: Bringing together businesses and universities to spark innovation and economic development.

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