The Silicon Valley entrepreneur enabling intrapreneurs through technology
WITH SUZAN BRIGANTI
Big companies around the world are expecting their staff to drive innovation from within, but most workforces weren’t hired for their ability to innovate. This is the conundrum that Suzan Briganti, CEO and founder of Swarm Vision, is helping enterprises to understand and resolve with powerful innovation profiling software. Swarm Vision’s enterprise software platform uses predictive analytics to help leaders uncover hidden innovation talent in their workforce and candidate pools, to drive real business results from innovation.
Winning the HR Technology Product of the Year award in 2018, Swarm Vision is providing a language and set of behaviours associated with innovation and intrapreneurship that companies have been struggling to articulate.
Swarm Vision was founded in 2016 and is entrepreneur Suzan Briganti’s third start up in the male-dominated world of Silicon Valley. Her second business, an innovation consultancy, used crowdsourcing to access the minds of her global crowd of innovators and provided her Fortune 500 clients with ideas and solutions. As more and more ideas were generated by these external gurus, those clients started to question why their tens of thousands of employees couldn’t innovate in the same way.
And, so began the world’s largest study on successful innovators to identify the behaviours, habits and skills most predictive of business results from innovation.
“For female entrepreneurs starting out, it’s a lot about defying expectations and making your own luck happen” – Suzan Briganti
“Natural innovators are different from the general population. Most organizations focus on continuous improvement and incremental innovation, and have hired accordingly. The ability to succeed in horizon three – disruptive innovation- is very rare.”
The study was unique in its focus on the end states we all desire – business results such as profitabiliy, hypergrowth, global expansion and IPO – and the skills required to achieve them. While the ideation phase is critical to innovation, bringing an idea to implementation also relies on team members having persuasion skills, the ability to pivot and adapt when problems arise, the ability to recognise emerging patterns, and to connect with and drive others.
Swarm Vision’s profiling platform enables each employee to be profiled and scored against eight innovation indicators – drive, disrupt, create, connect, control, think, deliver and give. Swarm now provides scalable online training to develop these 8 skills.
It also places the individual in one of four horizons – continuous improvement, incremental innovation, adjacent and disruptive innovation, identifying the horizon they are likely to thrive in.
While the system is useful at the individual level, its power is in being able to instantly aggregate and analyse data to profile teams, departments and whole organizations. While its first benefit is in helping organisations to uncover and harness existing internal talent. the results can also help organizations to identify recruitment needs and fill missing skillsets. The Swarm Innovation Profiler does not discriminate on the basis of gender, ethnicity or age, an effect called adverse selection bias. Organizations can drill into information about their entire workforce to find a person with a particular set of skills.
And Suzan’s lifetime in Silicon Valley has taught her all about selection bias. Only 2% of venture capital funds reach female founders, despite female founders generating more revenue per dollar raised (source BCG). So it seems male-dominated VCs continue to ‘pattern match’ with founders, while female founders struggle to catch a break. “Swarm Vision was generating revenue from the start” Suzan confirms, “and we did raise funds. But you have to know where to look, who to go to. For female entrepreneurs starting out, it’s a lot about defying expectations and making your own luck happen.”
Corporates and government agencies are embracing the tool as it brings scale, efficiency and the ability to innovate faster without bias. Swarm Vison’s software allows truly global teams of intrapreneurs to connect and create.
Of course as a serial entrepreneur, Suzan’s journey continues into new ventures. She is writing a book about being raised in Silicon Valley, and is partnering with a number of channel partners to grow Swarm Vision globally. In Australia, she is collaborating with Dr Irena Yashin-Shaw, host of the Australian Intrapreneurs Summit.