What’s next – continued progress in reinventing the relationship between people and technology.

We rise by lifting others. Robert Ingersoll said this a long time ago and it still rings true. And it’s one of the reasons why we ran a different kind of internal hackathon from our usual product-focused event. The SS11 Innovation Challenge for Social Good leveraged Nuance employee’s creativity for social good while empowering them to create relevant solutions. It allowed them to target real needs and problems from non-profit organizations that could be solved with Nuance’s technology. Girl Scouts, a Performing Arts Ticketing Service, an organization for at-risk high-potential students and a political campaign are just a few of the nonprofits for which our teams designed. And, it was fun! Eduardo Olvera, Senior Manager, User Interface Design of the Cognitive Innovation Group led the event with leader Guy Hoovler, Senior Director Professional Services of the Enterprise Division.


Here’s what they had to say:

Guy Hoovler: Innovation challenge events demonstrate our division’s support for innovative ideas, committing significant time and resources to support our employees’ innovative and competitive initiatives. Incorporating the “social good” element this time sparked creativity in a number of the teams who were motivated by the challenge to solve real world problems, using our tech in a way that did something more than provide a bank balance.

Eduardo: For me, it was the response we received from participants, supporters and organizers. We had a very successful event, with 9 total teams with over 40 participants, all of which made it to the final line. We received support from upper management, directors and managers, local liaisons, subject matter experts, IT specialist, facilities administrators, human resources and legal staff. This event also marked many ‘firsts’ in the history of Innovation Challenges: the first Enterprise challenge that combined teams (CIG + PS), multiple locations, a curated list of projects teams chose from, an emphasis on social good, a platform used for team’s development, flexibility across a larger development period, idea checkpoints and SME office hours.

Eduardo: Innovation is the application of creative processes and ideas in novel and useful ways that add value and solve real world problems. The biggest mistake I see is people not realizing innovation is bigger than a product or technology platform, which means companies tend to not put the required level of support required to make it happen and then grow.

Eduardo: Because those companies, organization and communities that truly understand innovation, install strategies around it and execute it well, are the ones that achieve and sustain long-term success while at the same time keeping their employees, members and volunteers feeling satisfied, fulfilled, productive and excited about their personal and professional future.

Needless to say, it was a tight (and impressive) competition. In the end, the winning team decided to donate their money to the Water Project, a non-profit working to end the water crisis and provide access to clean, safe, and reliable water across sub-Saharan Africa. We were honored to donate $1,000 to help them further their mission and our teams are looking forward to the next Challenge.