I always said Go Studio would be fast paced. I didn’t think time would fly by that quickly. Hard to believe it, but our first two years at Go Studio are already in the books.
Our launch day in February 2020 was one of the most exciting days of my career. It meant we had a physical space built for all the problem-solving and experimenting with emerging technology that makes me love my job.
One of the coolest parts was knowing that changes were a big part of the process. Our vision involved learning, connecting and reacting. We were here to solve challenges and weren’t afraid of failure along the way. Not knowing exactly what we’d find or learn along that path was just part of the fun.
I’m often asked: “How is the Studio doing?” So, on our two-year anniversary, I thought I’d reflect with some key lessons and themes from the journey so far. (Spoiler: it’s going really well).
Taking the In-Person Experience Remote
Go Studio was always meant to be mobile. I sure didn’t expect we’d be fully remote within a month, but here we are.
We were fortunate to already have systems for working remotely. What the last two years taught us is how to fully transition our collaborative experiences to the digital realm. The studio was designed to showcase the kinds of emerging technology solutions we are capable of, complete with design thinking workshops and hands-on experiences to drive creativity. When suddenly no one could visit, we had to take the show online – and figure out how to bring a high level of enthusiasm and interactivity to on-screen meetings.
Since diversity of ideas and experiences is imperative to our process, we needed everyone to actively participate. This involved careful attention to engagement, giving each participant time to speak and share, and structuring experiences to keep people active without overwhelming them. It’s those little details that really drive success.
Innovation Is Always Evolving
The futuristic emerging technologies that have everyone salivating can be up to ten years away from implementation. It’s great to work on those projects, but sometimes our partners need help right away – so the studio adapted. We think of innovation as a road map, connecting the here and now to the distant future.
Part of our value is helping clients start building that road map by thinking outside the box, empathizing with customer segments, exposing themselves to unique and diverse perspectives, and approaching problem-solving in new ways, from new directions. From there, we cast a wide net, brainstorming solutions big and small. Innovation is a journey, and we’re there every step of the way; our long-term plans include short-term solutions that are adaptable and adjustable as customer needs, technology, and other factors change over time.
The Benefits Are Everywhere
Innovation comes in many forms. It also comes from many places – our employee network, brainstorming sessions with clients, field research, a random light bulb moment while brushing your teeth, and on and on. A lot to keep up with, right? We knew Go Studio would be important to the enterprise as whole – our hub-and-spoke model was integral to our conception – but we’re still seeing just how much of what we do goes beyond our “walls.”
Our Trailblazer program, where ambitious employees get release time dedicated to the studio’s projects, exemplifies these benefits. These employees contribute greatly while they’re here, and the knowledge they take back to their teams sets them up to drive innovation across the company. We even had one former Trailblazer build out an idea of his own, which is now moving towards a patent. The hub-and-spoke model in action! InComm Payments is built on innovation, and by giving it a “home” we’re helping strengthen it enterprise-wide.
Communities Drive Success
Going back to school has been another rewarding aspect of Go Studio. We’ve had multiple capstone projects in partnership with Kennesaw State University, and already one of those projects has turned into a patent. While we’re providing measurable value to their students through hands-on experience and credits, being part of that community also strengthens us. Seeing things from the students’ perspectives, hearing their ideas, and helping build a pipeline of bright young minds in the tech and FinTech industry has reinforced our notions about how important it is to partner with the education community.
Our focus on community has also led us to launch events like our Innovation Jam and Spark by Go Studio Speaker Series. What we’ve seen recently is people being invigorated by in-person interaction, and still yearning for the camaraderie and face-to-face collaboration. While people are capable of accomplishing so much remotely, many still thrive through in-the-same-room interaction. We’re expecting this year to bring more opportunities for safe in-person events both in the Studio and on-location, and our ability to deliver experiences remotely and in-person will be a major strength.
Community, for us, also involves other innovation studios. Innovation is absolutely speeding up, and there are now over 40 innovation studios in Atlanta proper. Several of these studios were extremely helpful when we were researching, planning and building Go Studio, and we’ve been thrilled to pay it forward as newer ones have sprung up. If anyone asks us for advice, we’re an open book. Because at the end of the day we’re all just kids at heart when it comes to exploring, creating, and dreaming of building something better.
Finally, community means giving everyone a voice. The more people and perspectives we’re exposed to, and the more we’re able to share their challenges, thoughts and ideas, the stronger our process will be. If we’re not innovating inclusively, we’re just doing it for ourselves.
As we kick off our third year, we might be even more excited than we were cutting that ribbon in 2020. We had high expectations for the impact this venture would have on the company, and it’s safe to say they’ve all been exceeded. But technology isn’t slowing down, and neither are we. We’re expanding into new products and services as a company, supporting our partners as they solve their challenges, and building and strengthening relationships in the community as we work to take innovation to the next level in Atlanta and beyond. We can’t wait to see where Go Studio is going next, and what else we’ll learn along the way.