With Jam IT, an annual event organised by Volvo IT's innovation leaders, the company aims to exploit individual talents among its staff. Longer term, customers could also play a major role in this process.

Looking to existing staff as an innovation resource is becoming the trend for many companies. Volvo IT, the Volvo group subsidiary which specialises in IT consulting and services, has announced the launch of its second Jam IT session. This internal event aims to connect up employees of Volvo IT worldwide, asking them to come up with ideas and projects together. The ideas that are generated will be studied by a committee of experts which will then select the four that are most promising and feasible. The four employees who generated the ideas will each be allocated a team with a budget of 20,000 – 40,000 euros to implement their idea.

Discovering potential more than seeking out major innovation

According to Stéphane Parisot, Innovation Manager at Volvo IT, the goal is to "give employees a space where they can express themselves beyond their own work field. Innovative ideas cannot be restricted to a defined sector". A view shared by Julien Gallois, Marketing Director at Inova. "This way of working is doubly advantageous: it gives the company a means of projecting an innovative image to customers while revealing personalities and skills within the company". However, he also points out that although "this kind of initiative can serve to refine ideas already on the table, it rarely leads to profound change". In fact three main themes, in line with the needs and business challenges Volvo IT has already identified, have been chosen before the participants actually get down to the “idea-jamming” sessions.

B2B customers getting more and more involved

So, this year, "IT in Asia", "Measuring Operational Excellence" and "Consumerisation of Enterprise IT" are the central discussion points. What remains to be seen is whether the consumer and end-customer can also be brought into this kind of project. This question is highly relevant now, since apparently several users have shown up since the launch of Jam IT asking to take part. Julien Gallois says this initiative is not very widespread in the B2B space,"but could lead to some very useful results if it enabled Volvo to identify customer needs and then assess new ideas in the light of those specific needs." He concludes by underlining that "these steps can only be effective if customers are brought into the process with great care, on a case-by-case basis."