How Avanade Harnesses the Power of People and Innovation to Fuel Ambitious Growth Strategy
At Avanade, our vision is to be the leading digital innovator, creating great experiences as we realize results for our clients and their customers through the power of people and the Microsoft ecosystem.
As a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture, innovation is in our DNA and collaboration is at the heart of our culture. With over 40,000 professionals, we are dedicated to helping our clients transform their businesses through digital innovation and create compelling experiences for their customers and employees.
This case study represents one of the four finalist submissions for phase one of i4cp's 2021 Next Practice Awards. View other Next Practice Award case studies.
A key success driver in our ambitious growth strategy is creating a world class people development environment that attracts and retains outstanding talent and enables our people to be innovative, entrepreneurial in spirit and continuously striving for excellence. This means we are ensuring our workforce has the right support in place to build and maintain relevant skills that are constantly refreshed and evolved to meet market demand and client challenges. To do this, we invest in new and creative ways to reach our people and share the latest thought leadership, learnings and client and business solutions.
!nnovate program was inspired by this strategy, and in just 2 years has become a driving force in the Avanade culture of growth mindset, innovation, and people development. !nnovate began as a series of diverse experiences that fosters learning, ideation and innovative growth and development opportunities to all employees across the organization. These experiences took place over the course of 6 months and consisted of local in-person events centered around workshops called “makeathons”, a virtual and global innovation contest where teams around the world pair up with clients to solve real issues, and an in person global marquee summit, where the top innovation contest finalists, global leaders and top innovators come together to vie for prizes and celebrate innovation and creativity.
Then 2020 happened. We, along with our clients, had to embrace disruption as the new normal. The challenges of yesterday were now complicated by a world of unknowns. As we began the process of cancelling the Global Summit, we had to pivot to a new format, as we knew the desire to keep the spirit of innovation would still be top of mind for our people. Without a platform, template, or a precedent to fall back on, we were in completely uncharted territory and had to move forward, fast.
With less than 6 weeks to find a new solution to replace the in person global summit, our team led a series of Design Thinking sessions to brainstorm and ideate, bringing in inspiration from within Avanade as well as other virtual industry events that were starting to pop up. Whatever we came up with had to be inclusive, easily accessible, global and most of all, attention-getting to cut through the disruption. We started with asking “how might we” questions to get more creative: How might we make this truly a global experience? How might we engage every level of our organization? How might we make this fun? How might we make this interactive?”
What emerged was a 4-week digital experience called InnovateFest that launched in June of 2020. Designed with a music festival in mind, !nnovateFest was wrapped in an edgy theme that pushed the boundaries of our corporate brand to generate and pique interest. The format centered around our innovation strategy pillars with each week’s topics curated and created to support a different pillar. New, bite sized content, built in a variety of formats (video, podcast, practice tools, surveys, and quizzes) were released daily; all asynchronous. Once released, the content was accessible anywhere, anytime and on any device an authenticated single sign on (SSO).
To host our new experience, we partnered with Innovation Leads and developers to build a custom platform using Microsoft PowerPlatform, which gave us flexibility and agility to utilize PowerApps, PowerBI and PowerAutomate and create a seamless and powerful experience that helped us automatically release content, gamify, and measure participation. This was the first time that Avanade had used these tools internally to produce an event of this magnitude with our people in mind. The custom app, which has now seen several iterations, has become the ‘go to’ solution for other company wide learning experiences due to its user-friendly design, powerful automation and workflows, accessibility, and dashboards.
The format is typically a short video or podcast, followed by a quiz or survey. The quiz serves multiple purposes -- it ensures the participants understood the content and paid attention and upon completion, allows us to incentive through points, leaderboards and ultimately prizing. Each activity completed, from watching a video, to answering a quiz, to sharing content with their network, earns points with the top participants in each region winning prizes, recognition, and certificates.
In summary, !nnovateFest platform consists of:
- Daily content & quizzes!
- Content delivered in 3 languages (English, Japanese and Mandarin)
- Gamification with leader boards
- Sharing functionality
- Ability to embed MURAL, Microsoft Forms, and other crowdsourcing tools
- Ability to link to internal training modules
!nnovateFest is now the digital innovation experience at Avanade. Over the past two years, approximately 30% of our employees, across all geographies, job functions, internal talent communities and job titles, from junior analysts to our CEO, participated in the event. With two !nnovateFests completed, we’ve created over 80 pieces of unique content in a variety of formats: videos, podcast, live radio interviews and interactive activities. In fact, one Design Thinking workshop on “next trends” generated over 750+ crowdsourced ideas. These crowdsourced ideas were reviewed and will influence the direction of our own internal research and thought leadership on this topic. In 2021, we integrated our custom platform and LMS, which tracked 1,525 courses completed, with a record 638 course credit hours earned and awarded in just 10 days.
Verbatims from our participants:
Fun and Educational: “I just wanted to take a moment and let you know how much I am enjoying the Innovate Fest content. I think it has the right balance of inspiration and learning and I really appreciate how it has been curated. Great job!!” - Senior Consultant, Analytics
I think the main goal is Learning which is the main investment that can be used to develop our career. But the scores are also good for competition. many thanks – Consultant - Iberia
Micro Learning Led to Micro Moments: “I really liked the ability to self-pace myself given my extremely busy schedule given client meetings” - Business Development Executive
Gamified: Very informative and enjoyable way to learn about innovation at Avanade and the gamification definitely added a fun competitive edge. Senior Consultant, Delivery Manager
!nnovateFest has become the leading digital experience at Avanade – this is a unique initiative that has captured the hearts and minds of our people, and the participation and engagement continue to grow. Experimenting with PowerPlatform allowed us to be creative and innovative, while being able to measure the impact of the programs we launched. We can understand which content is popular with employees and why, when it is consumed and how, who is sharing what type of content. The rich data generated gave us a new insight on how to create immersive programs for employees and we have applied these learning across different initiatives.
The PowerApp platform has since been leveraged by teams across multiple regions to engage and support employees, deliver new content in an engaging and exciting ways, and support other training programs focused on innovation. These include serving as the platform for our organizational culture shift, creating an online learning campus titled ‘school of innovation’ to continually introduce the best of innovation content to employees, and we are now in the midst of iterating on top of it to create an engagement framework for our clients. View some of the various applications of the platform