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Culture of Innovation

Innovation is at the core of everything we do at EMC – from how we run our operations to how we develop and deliver new products and services. We rely on innovation to survive and thrive. We believe that the intersection of innovation and sustainability is where we can uncover solutions to our greatest business, social, and environ­mental challenges. Innovation and forward thinking at EMC means questioning the existing industry “status quo”, observing internal operations and customers’ behavior, networking through existing channels, and experimenting with products and services to develop solutions.

The EMC Innovation Network, our innovation engine, is led by the Office of CTO. Its mission is to spark the creation and delivery of high-value ideas that accelerate change and drive progress. The team reaches out to over 16,000 people across EMC who actively engage in Innovation Network events, programs, and processes, and who work together to advance the organic growth at EMC.  Innovative ideas improve the operational efficiency of the company, result in new products and solutions that exceed customer expectations, and are the bases of new partnerships to address emerging trends and challenges. Through these programs, the Innovation Network identifies opportunities to shape the future of EMC and to make a positive impact on the environment and society.

Innovation Conference & Innovation Roadmap

Innovation Conference  & Innovation Roadmap

The Innovation Conference is EMC’s annual celebration of innovation. Because we believe that co-creation drives innovation, the participants are not only EMC employees, but also partners, customers, universities, industry associations, and other external stakeholders. In 2014, the Innovation Conference was digitally recorded and broadcast to more than 4,000 people participating in conferences hosted at 16 EMC global Centers of Excellence (COE’s). To learn more, visit the Community of Innovation Site.

The cornerstone of the Innovation Conference is the Innovation Roadmap, EMC’s innovation competition and incubation engine, where innovative ideas are collected, strengthened, recognized, incubated, and implemented.  Executives from various business units (BU’s) and COE’s post “challenges” representative of EMC’s most pressing business problems, which are open to innovative solutions from any employee or team of employees in the company.

In 2014, the Innovation Network received a record high of 5,477 submissions in response to 26 challenges, showing the widespread innovative climate and creative thinking throughout the company. 

2008 - 2014 Global Innovation Footprint

EMC Global Innovation Network | Number, Geographical Location, and Year of Innovation Idea Submission

After a comprehensive judging process, three “best in show” ideas were selected from among the 26 challenge winners. The creators of these three ideas competed for funding in a venture-pitch format show called Ignition Sequence. The show featured a high-stakes elimination round judged by a panel of EMC and tech startup finance executives including EMC’s CTO John Roese, CFO Zane Rowe, EVP of HR ML Krakauer, and Founder and President of MassChallenge Akhil Nigam.

Organic Growth and BU Strategic Evolution

One of the measures of Innovation Roadmap is the number of submitted ideas. Since 2008, the number of submitted ideas has grown steadily, resulting in last year’s record of 5,477. The increasing number of submitted ideas poses a significant challenge to the Innovation Network in managing the ideation process and selection of most promising ideas. In 2013, Innovation Central, a web-based platform, was built and put in place to facilitate idea submission, judging, management, and innovation incubation project tracking across the company. Participants in the Innovation Roadmap use Innovation Central to submit ideas, comment on and support the evolution of ideas from their colleagues, and build on each other’s ideas to form new combined solutions. Innovation Central is a global tool used by over 16,000 EMC employees around the world.

2008 - 2014 Global Submission Summary

EMC Global Innovation Network | Submission Summary

Incubation Fund

Winning Ideas have access to the Incubation Fund. The Incubation Fund is a cross departmental pool of resources funded through “donations” of BUs and COEs to support the further development of winning ideas. This fund demonstrates our collective cross-regional and cross-functional approach to innovation, highlighting the benefits that innovation provides to the global company regardless of the origins of the winning ideas.

Intern Innovation Initiative

In 2014, we introduced the Innovation Intern Initiative, inviting interns from universities and schools around the globe to work with EMC engineers and managers on innovative ideas and projects. Over 135 interns volunteered and were broken into focus groups to help advance the incubation of nine winning Innovation Roadmap ideas. Interns performed market research and put together strategic action plans, which they later presented to the Innovation Network team. Through the Intern Innovation Initiative, students get exposed to the technical edge of the company and have the opportunity to work with global customers.

Impact of the Innovation Network

Measuring the impact of innovation activities is challenging due to the nature of innovation (the creation of tangible and intangible assets), the time frame for innovations to reach the market space, and the dynamic and fast evolving nature of the IT industry. The Innovation Network is the support structure that allows EMC employees to experiment with new technologies, products, and services. The results oftentimes are very successful, but even when not, can generate lessons learned and inspire additional research and development. In 2014, an all-time record of 43 percent of the ideas selected for incubation successfully reached implementation, indicating the maturity of our innovation network processes for advancing ideas.

Sponsored Challenges for EMC’s 2014 Innovation Roadmap

  • Asia – Pacific – Japan (APJ) <15K
  • APJ COE (China COE & India COE) "Future of EMC II"
  • APJ COE (China COE & India COE)  "Future of EVP (EMC Federation)”
  • Brazil R&D Center
  • Community Involvement
  • Customer Services
  • Data Protection & Availability Division -Total Customer experience automation
  • Durham COE
  • Education Services
  • Egypt COE
  • Enterprise and Mid-Range Storage Division
  • Office of Sustainability Environmental Stewardship
  • Global Product Operations
  • Global Services
  • Human Resources
  • Information Intelligence Group
  • Ireland COE
  • Israel COE
  • IT
  • Office of CTO (OCTO)
  • RSA
  • Russia COE
  • Skolkovo R&D Center
  • Solutions/xBU (cross Business Unit)
  • Total Customer Experience
  • Utah COE

Fellow & Distinguished Engineer Program

Our Corporate EMC Fellow & Distinguished Engineer (FDE) Program has been recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of outstanding leaders in our technical community since 2007. Currently there are four Fellows and 66 Distinguished Engineers in the program, recognized for their contributions in four key areas:

  • Technologist
  • Domain Expert
  • Business Impact
  • Technical Leadership

Achieving this pre-eminent technical distinction requires passing a rigorous nomination and review process. Nomination alone is an achievement and showcases an individual’s contributions to the company. The designation of Distinguished Engineer or Fellow is awarded on the basis of demonstrated individual achievement and leadership. Distinguished Engineers are recognized for their contributions to EMC; Fellows are recognized not only for their contributions to EMC, but for having significant impact on our industry.

After the Innovation Roadmap and Conference, the FDEs provide support in teams and as individuals to assist innovators in idea development and incubation. FDEs also serve as mentors for our employees and contribute to EMC’s overall strategy development.

In 2014, we were proud to announce that Radia Perlman joined EMC as our first Industry Fellow.

Additionally the following 12 individuals were named as EMC Distinguished Engineers:

  • Saar Cohen, Senior Consultant Software Engineer
  • Daniel Cummins, Senior Consultant Software Engineer
  • James Espy, Senior Consultant Hardware Engineer
  • Dave Harvey, Senior Consultant Software Engineer
  • David Humby, Senior Consultant Software Engineer
  • Stephen R. Ives, Director Software Engineering
  • Michael Robillard, Senior Manager Hardware Engineering
  • Adnan Sahin, Senior Director Engineering
  • Michael Shanzer, Principal Solutions Architect
  • Darryl B. Smith, Senior Consultant Technologist
  • Erez Webman, CTO Xtreme Software Suite

Global Innovation Network Analytics

In 2014, we continued to advance the Global Innovation Network Analytics (GINA) initiative across the company. Leveraging an EMC Greenplum®-based repository, GINA enables employees to submit meeting agendas or minutes to a central database that automatically maps the distribution of EMC’s global activities, showing the specific lines of connection across the company through recruiting, innovation activities, research and development, publications, and more. It provides a single pane-of-glass view of major collaboration and knowledge transfer across the globe, enabling the Innovation Network to achieve its mission to “expand knowledge locally, transfer it globally, and leverage it strategically.”

In 2014, in addition to entering our ideas, research, and publications into the tool, we worked directly with our customers and gathered their feedback into GINA to measure what our customers are saying about our vision and compare it to other data in GINA. We conducted a detailed analysis of customer feedback and addressed any gaps that our customers found. We also had follow-up innovation meetings with certain customers that were attracted to the vision and wished to work directly with us on innovation initiatives going forward.

GINA distributes a weekly newsletter on global innovations and initiatives called Vision-X Newsletter. Any team is welcomed to submit data to GINA at and spread their knowledge across the company.

We continued to use and improve the GINA tool in 2014. The GINA team conducted a global survey of every advanced development and research product occurring within our product teams. The data was entered into GINA for the first-ever dashboard view of advanced development. This dashboard view for advanced development activity was also synchronized with external research data to present one common dashboard for all internal and external innovation activity related to EMC’s interests.

Another benefit we realized from the GINA tool in 2014 was the formation of new innovation communities within EMC. The tool allowed global technologists to learn what others were working on. The GINA team created weekly “Tech Talks” that stimulated knowledge transfer from one area of technology expertise and was broadcast to the entire advanced development community. An internal social media site was set up for the Advanced Development community to further facilitate knowledge transfer.