In the fall of 2017, newly minted Conduent displayed its latest technologies at a New York client event to broaden awareness of the then-obscure Florham Park-based company.
Conduent was once part of global technology giant Xerox, before it was spun off as a public company in early 2017. The company’s executives felt that product demos would create a big splash and help spread the word about Conduent and its digital business-process services.
CEO Ashok Vemuri, who recently announced his resignation, wanted to launch the firm’s “innovation gallery” at the event because hardly anyone knew what this fledgling company was or what it did. Other companies “had never heard of us because we were a brand-new business,” recalled Tracy Yelencsics, Conduent’s vice president of global marketing. “We were invisible.”
The innovation gallery at the New York event was hailed as a great success, prompting Conduent to recreate it as a permanent “Innovation Center” at its Florham Park headquarters nearly two years later. The company hopes to build similar centers in Raleigh, N.C., and India.
Visitors to the 2,500-square-foot, multimillion-dollar Innovation Center, which opened in May, will notice a big screen flashing the number of vehicles passing through highway tolls, along with other data (Conduent processes data for toll operators). They are then escorted through a door that opens like those on Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise.
Once inside, they find themselves in a dimly lit, soundproof-walled room that’s loaded with advanced digital wizardry — a technology fun house of sorts. For instance, there’s a facial recognition mechanism that projects headshot photos of visitors onto one of the center’s walls. But there’s also serious stuff going on here.
The Innovation Center showcases Conduent’s capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI), automation, blockchain, analytics and mobility, creating an immersive experience for visitors.
The Innovation Center showcases Conduent’s capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI), automation, blockchain, analytics and mobility, creating an immersive experience for the visitors so they can learn more about the company’s products and services, which are aimed at 20 different industries, including financial services, healthcare, government, energy, aerospace, defense and transportation.
In one corner of the center, company executives and visitors can huddle around a digital touch screen table that retrieves data from the firm’s content management system, instantly producing business case studies and other useful information for meetings.
Elsewhere in the room, clients and prospects have conversations with chatbots to learn how Conduent can deal with their particular business problems.
Conduent is “getting underneath the customers’ underlying business challenges.”Sam Grobard, Conduent
The center uses other technologies to make business meetings more interactive and productive, sounding the death knell of boring meetings and slide presentations. With the Innovation Center, Conduent is “getting underneath the customers’ underlying business challenges,” said Sam Grobard, the company’s senior manager of innovation experience. “And we have set up a space to specifically address those challenges.”
Conduent officials are counting on the center to help the company gain more recognition for its technologies, many of which are used for state and federal government programs.
For instance, Conduent processes more than half of all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments, and about the same percentage of all child-support payments and workers’ compensation claims. The company serves most of the Fortune 100 and 500 companies, boasting four of the top five automotive companies and nearly all of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies.
But these accomplishments are sometimes barely noticed because Conduent typically works behind the scenes.
That creates the all-too common problem of clients and prospects going with competitors because they don’t know what a company has to offer. This has been a source of frustration for Conduent, as the average client only uses one or two of its nine services.
For example, Yelencsics recalled one client that had signed on with a competitor, unaware that Conduent offered the same services. But with the Innovation Center, the company is confident that fewer clients will remain unaware of the full range of its products and services.
The idea for the Innovation Center didn’t happen overnight. Before the demolition of several offices and construction of this futuristic facility, extensive research and planning was required to ensure that the center met the company’s expectations.
Yelencsics, who was involved in creating Xerox’s innovation centers during her stint at that company, said it was necessary to get feedback from the company’s sales teams, executives and others in order to understand what Conduent’s center needed to convey to its visitors.
“We wanted to know how you would do demonstrations, and what were the key facts that we wanted to include,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that if we built this, that clients would find it useful.”
Yelencsics and other Conduent officials also toured innovation centers at BASF, Verizon and Sony to learn what worked and what didn’t.
Since the Innovation Center opened its doors, Conduent feels that the facility has played a critical role in steadily increasing awareness of its products and services, “Clients are seeing a side of Conduent they’ve never seen before,” Yelencsis said.