IBM - WinSights Sales Support Team of the Year
Company: IBM, Armonk, NY
Company Description: IBM is a values-based enterprise of individuals who create & apply technology to make the world work better. Today, more than 400,000 IBM employees around the world invent and integrate hardware, software and services to help forward-thinking enterprises, institutions and people succeed on a smarter planet.
Nomination Category: Sales Awards Team Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Sales Support Team of the Year - Technology Industries
Nomination Title: Winning with WinSights
Tell the story about what this nominated team achieved since the beginning of July 2017 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:
The WinSights team was conceived through an internal competition called Cognitive Build in 2016. The two founding members of WinSights translated the pain points of the proposal build process into an idea: Create a cognitive app using the Watson suite of APIs to help IBM sellers generate responses to natural language queries and ultimately build a proposal response in minimal time compared to the traditional effort.
After showcasing, crowdfunding, and competing in an IBM “Shark Tank”, WinSights emerged as one of five best cognitive ideas in early 2017. We knew that without a prototype of the working model, we would be unable to secure the critical resources needed to develop the app. Therefore, members took on the challenge to develop the skills necessary to build the prototype along with writing the business case to substantiate its value and benefits. The team contacted several business lines to build awareness by demonstrating the prototype, which convinced executives that we had a successful business case.
Finally, we secured investment from IBM Enterprise Services, WinSights was added to the portfolio of cognitive projects, and the WinSights team was born. WinSights was officially launched in Canada in March 2018 followed by the launch in US in July, with plans for global deployments to Asia-Pacific and Europe. WinSights is realizing value for IBM and is a story of a team’s passion for continuous improvement of proposal processes, rectifying bottlenecks in information gathering, and enhancing proposal quality and delivery speed. This has realized the outcomes in winning more opportunities, effectively improving signings and revenue for IBM.
We faced the following challenges through early 2017:
- Constrained budget
- Inefficient communication between global team members
- Confusion with requirements gathering and specifications causing difficulties in development of the minimum viable product (MVP)
- Substantial effort required to train Watson AI for the desired subject matter
To enable better collaboration, the team co-located for a hackathon, enabling the common understanding needed to take WinSights from vision to reality. This launched the project into overdrive, resulting in solution architecture, prioritized requirements, release roadmap and timelines. This process was repeated several times throughout the build process, as we tackled major milestones. All members cooperated and contributed their time, knowledge, and expertise to develop the system we have today.
Since WinSights’ product launch in March 2018, we’ve had 40% increase in the number of users and 100% increase in the number of queries month-to-month. Depending on query complexity, we are witnessing that WinSights saves Sellers a minimum of 25% of time effort per proposal. Through September of this year, WinSights delivered over $1.2M savings in seller productivity.
In a typical proposal with 50 questions, a team of 10 contributors, and one-month deadline, the team would possibly spend hours or even days searching for reusable content. With WinSights, they can find the information in seconds. This would save at least one week off the project time. As a result, Sellers and proposal specialists can further focus on what matters most, enhancing the bespoke experience for the customer.
Our continuous development, testing, improvement, and gathering of feedback have enabled broader benefits. The further advantage of the time and effort saved translates into a significant increase in the quality of work being produced and a noticeable reduction in stress for each proposal effort. The results are clear as positive feedback continues to flow in. “I think I owe you lunch next time I am in Coppell. WinSights is MAGIC DUST! Thank you so much” (Tendai M. - GTS Client Representative).