Swimming with the Sharks – AT&T Style

August 02, 2016
By Igal Elbaz

Have you ever seen the reality TV shows where entrepreneurs and innovators pitch their business ideas to potential investors?

Well, AT&T employees can do that too, thanks to The Innovation Pipeline (TIP). The TIP platform lets employees submit, vote and collaborate on new ideas that drive innovation. The ideas receive real-time feedback from their peers and the most popular ones rise to the top.

Here’s what happens next.

Prepping for the Pitch

The employees behind the top 10 ideas move forward. They have the chance to pitch to TIP’s Angel Investors – senior business leaders from across the company – who decide which concepts have the potential to become real products and services.

Those selected work with the TIP team. The team offers guidance and coaching throughout the pitch process to prepare and develop the employees’ presentations.

So, what’s it like to pitch an idea?

The Big Day

What employees might not realize leading up to pitch day is we are just as excited and passionate as they are about participating. For me personally, out of everything I do and see in the company, watching our front line people pitch their innovations is one of the best parts of my job.  

On pitch day, employees have 5-7 minutes to present their idea to the Angel Investors. Bryant Stewart, a client solutions executive in Global Business Solutions, recently pitched and said it was an experience he’ll never forget.

John Smither, a senior tech project manager, and Arthur Johnson, a senior network specialist also presented. “Participating in TIP made me feel good. It shows that our leaders value everybody’s ideas – regardless of your job role or department,” Arthur said.

John agreed and felt he came away from the process with a new appreciation for the company. “Our leaders really want to hear from employees. The Angel Investor meeting shows they’re willing to invest the time and energy into listening to and considering our ideas. It makes me feel good about working here,” he added.

Timing, cost, impact and business priorities ultimately determine what happens to an employee’s idea.  Some ideas move into development while others remain as part of a TIP repository of ideas always available for business units across AT&T.

Since its creation in 2009, TIP has attracted more than 130,000 members from all 50 states and 54 countries. And, more than $44 million in seed funding has gone towards developing new TIP concepts. Consumer favorites include NumberSync, AT&T DriveMode, and SmartMic. 

TIP recently launched a mobile experience so employees can submit ideas anytime, anywhere. For over 7 years, employees have helped drive innovation at AT&T through TIP. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Check out more of what Bryant had to say about his journey.

Igal Elbaz - Vice President - Ecosystem and Innovation, AT&T Services, Inc.

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