Innovation to build a better world

  • Posted on October 5, 2016

Each year Avanade brings together more than 500 of their leading technologists from around the globe, as well as clients, partners, and industry leaders, for our annual 3-day Tech Summit. A highlight of this event is the selection of the innovation content winners. The Innovation contest, open to all Avanade employees, solicits ideas for real world challenges put forward by clients.  Over the period of few months the best ideas move through the process, with the winning project being awarded seed funding to execute the solution.

My team, Team AAI (Agriculture Acceleration Initiative) won the Innovation Contest at the 2016 TechSummit, but my journey to Innovation contest started much earlier than that.  While attending ‘Doing business at Avanade’, a training event for Managers, participants had to pick a challenge and work as a group. We were to apply our training and collaborate with other managers to come up with a solution to a challenge, with people who we barely knew, except for the trust we had in their abilities.

Having previously spent two years raising funds and running an agriculture project in India I chose a challenge that was put forward by a Telecom client from South Africa: help farming communities and reduce world hunger. I found that other members who had also chosen this challenge had connections to farming. Our passion for agriculture and our keenness to improve farming conditions in developing nations led us to work together.

After spending two hours debating the challenges faced by farmers across the world, and drawing on our first-hand experiences, we found our purpose. Our concept was to use Internet of Things to gather detailed information of farming operations, use Cortana Analytics suite on Azure platform to process the data and provide it to local farmers in remote communities who normally wouldn’t have access to those type of resources. Our solution’s aim was to increase productivity and profitability while minimizing cost, chance of crop failure and environmental impact.

Before the finals, other colleagues with the technical know-how willingly offered their weekends and spare time to contribute to our solution, and helped us move from ideation to a working demo.

On June 15, we presented our solution to an audience of over 500 people, from both technical and a business backgrounds. We were able to connect with the audience on the social aspect of our innovation which was all about taking a world of knowledge to small scale farmers to increase their productivity and provide an opportunity for others to use social media to be involved in the process to secure food for the future generations. We won having secured the highest votes for our solution.

The innovation contest is just one great example of how Avanade’s culture of innovation, combined with passion and purpose, is creating change for our world! I’m proud to add “Innovation Content winner” to my list of accomplishments.

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