Time Magazine – Imaginatik as Technology Pioneer

From the Time web site – a story on the recent Technology Pioneer award winners – a prestigious award from the World Economic Forum (glitzy week-long event in Davos – Brad and Angelina will be there, plus CEOs of Google, Pfizer, etc)

Imaginatik ENGLAND The idea behind its Idea Central is to eliminate the corporate roadblocks to innovation

While working at Intel in 1993 as part of his Ph.D. research, Mark Turrell noticed a fatal flaw in the company’s deployment of collaborative software like Lotus Notes. “I would interview Intel employees who said that these tools are fabulous,” says Turrell. “Then I looked at the server logs and found that they hadn’t been using the program.” That set Turrell off on a mission to develop his own software for groups and get people to use it. The result: Imaginatik, the company that Turrell founded in 1994, and its flagship product, Idea Central.

Turrell’s goal is to give a voice to all those invisible employees sitting on great ideas. He recalls that not long ago, one big corporation required anyone submitting an idea to fill out forms in triplicate. Idea Central’s clear, user-friendly interface lets managers identify problems, ask for suggestions and–crucially–set deadlines. A lightbulb icon invites users to enter an idea. “It’s like buying a book from Amazon,” says Robin Spencer of the drug giant Pfizer. “It requires completely zero training.” Pfizer has employed Idea Central to find additional uses for drugs and gather hundreds of ideas during brainstorming meetings in real time. Georgia-Pacific, Chevron Texaco, Whirlpool and Goodyear Tire & Rubber are also clients.

As a student of collaboration, Turrell taps history to show how difficult it can be to share ideas. Recounting how a British admiral hanged a sailor in 1707 after the sailor suggested–rightly, as it disastrously turned out–that the fleet had wandered off course, Turrell notes, “We need to have a way for people to share their ideas without a fear of getting killed.”


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