IT innovation: How to avoid being a one-hit wonder

How top IT organizations come up with bright ideas, time after time

There were no big brainstorming sessions, rah-rah team meetings or executive committees convened to devise a plan to drive FiOS TV customers away from using call centers in favor of self-service ordering, the more cost-effective option.

Instead, a junior programmer came up with the idea to build a click-to-order option that viewers could use instantly with their remotes. The programmer approached his manager and got the OK to build a prototype, which he delivered within months.

The click-to-order feature, which started rolling out in 2007, boosted self-service orders from 5% to 55% in just one month, cutting costs and inspiring click-to-order uses in other areas of the FiOS lineup too.

"He hit a gold mine," says Shaygan Kheradpir, CIO at Verizon Communications Inc.

Kheradpir says the junior programmer's ability to run with an innovative idea wasn't a fluke; Verizon's IT shop is designed to enable that kind of innovation to happen again and again.

"The underlying mission for Verizon IT is to look for opportunities where IT can make a quantum leap in performance for the business," Kheradpir says.

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