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My experience as an !nnovate ambassador

  • Posted on January 17, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

Last year, I had the opportunity to serve as an !nnovate 2019 ambassador. !nnovate is Avanade’s global innovation program, and last year the main stage was set in Milan, Italy. The experience was not only cool and enriching during the days we spent in Milan, but it provided inspiration and learning experiences that have continued to propel my career at Avanade into 2020.  

It was no surprise that Milan served as a stunning setting for the !nnovate Summit, but it was fascinating to me how often the historic city served as a backdrop for contrasts – where old met new, innovation merged with tradition. Even as we admired the gorgeous architecture of the city, we were impressed by the more futuristic design and forward-looking fashion we observed in the Accenture Milan Innovation Center. We got to see how Accenture and Avanade Milan utilized Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain to change our daily life and workspaces – and may even have a hand in influencing the fashion of the future. 

The ambassadors warmed up with a design thinking session – we introduced ourselves to one another and talked about how we tackle innovation activities in our own countries. Through this exchange of experiences, we were able to come to solutions together and discover new ways of approaching challenges. For example, we discussed how prevalent IoT and AI have become in North America and China while Europe has been more cautious with privacy and security, as evidenced by GDPR. 

Past met future again when we visited the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, the largest science and technology museum in Italy in the evening to see models of his great inventions. The was the 500th anniversary of his death, but incredible to see the influence his work still has. I couldn’t help but think of that as we moved into our topic sessions in Advisory, Tech Trends and Experience Design. These sessions gave me insight into how Avanade has worked with the most cutting-edge technologies such as Quantum Computing and advanced AI researching. Experts in the sessions made those intimidating topics approachable, and I was so impressed to hear from colleagues from Spain and Japan about how they’ve applied IoT and AI to work for clients that include factories, banks, hospitals and universities. Learning about their work has influenced projects I’ve been on since returning from Milan – on my team, we used a Chatbot and vision detection demo in order to secure a deal with a manufacturing company in Shanghai.  

The most anticipated event of all of !nnovate was the Global Innovation Contest final. Our annual Innovation Contest is part of the !nnovate experience and allows all Avanade people to solve real-world challenges provided by our clients. It was incredible to see how the best innovation teams worked together to win the contest. I also can’t forget to mention how much I enjoyed the social time we got at !nnovate – talking with Avanade colleagues from around the world gave me the opportunities to exchange experiences and ideas and build on those connections even after I got home.  

Since serving as an !nnovate ambassador, I’ve been inspired to experiment with the IoT board and AI to keep bettering my skills. As Regional Innovation Lead of Greater China, I’ve had the opportunity to share experiences I learned from the summit with my colleagues across different project and locations, and I’ve seen the results of this ripple outward: Our benched colleagues undertake more innovation practices, for instance, and I’ve noticed that consultants are more eager to share innovation stories with clients.  

As we enter 2020, I am sure the experience will also help me a lot in the upcoming FY20 Innovation Contest! 

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