DirecTV’s ‘Speed Dating’ Approach to Innovation
By. Rachael King
DirecTV CIO Mike Benson meets with venture capitalist and startups twice each year to find information technology innovation.
Twice each year, DirecTV CIO Mike Benson takes a trip to Silicon Valley in search of innovation. Yet, the way he does it is rather unusual. He will spend a day with a venture capital firm, such as Andressen Horowitz or Greylock Partners, and they’ll introduce him to their portfolio companies. “I can spend one day and go through 10 companies,” he told CIO Journal, adding that start-ups each get 10 to twenty minutes to present products.
Trace3, the company that has introduced DirecTV start-ups, started a technology innovation program earlier this month to bring together CIOs, VCs and tech entrepreneurs. The company worked to understand DirecTV’s needs and introduce Mr. Benson and his colleagues to start-ups that could help.
Because the rate of technologist change in the enterprise has accelerated over the past few years, it’s important to seek out technologies and not rely on conventional vendors for innovation, he said. “Cloud and the consumerization of IT is driving us to looking in other places for apps or other tools,” he added.
One of the first companies Mr. Benson met was Skyhigh Networks, which helped CIOs search their Intranets and discover which cloud services employees are using, regardless of whether they’re sanctioned or not. The tool also helps companies determine which cloud storage providers employees were using and now the company is in the middle of assessing how well Box Inc. will meet its needs.
Through the meetings, Mr. Benson also discovered Git-hub Inc., a Web-based hosting service for software development projects, and Capriza Inc., which helps companies take enterprise application and easily transform them into mobile apps. His team now uses both products.