Progressive Opens Enterprise 'Innovation Garage'

Progressive Corporation has expanded its innovation services team to include the Business Innovation Garage, which officially opened today.

The garage sets aside company real estate to serve as an inhouse think tank, where IT employees can work with colleagues from all different parts of the business and share individual areas of expertise to solve business problems, explains Erin Baginski, IT Director at Progressive Insurance.

Progressive has dedicated five full-time resources to the Garage and will rotate ‘garage mechanics’ into those roles every 12 to 18 months. The mechanics will work with employees to find solutions to help improve the claims process, understand driving patterns better and improve the Progressive customer experience

There are two development mechanics, one requirements mechanic and one infrastructure mechanic, as well as an architect who manages the operation, Mark McElroy.

"He oversees all the experiments and drives the strategic direction of what the Garage will do next," Baginsky explains.

The Innovation Services Group at Progressive includes the Edison Group, which is a corporate initiative to generate ideas; the Action Factory, which is tasked with finding the right resources internally to address the ideas and opportunities, and now the Business Innovation Garage, which offers technical resources to explore solutions, create prototypes and help make them a reality.

“Many of these services are new, some we’ve had,” Baginski explains. “When the Innovation Garage was approved last year for enterprise deployment, we started to pull these things together under IT. They get to look at and work with emerging technologies, and then they will rotate into another project and take that experience with them.”

Progressive piloted the garage in 2012 and 2013, Baginski says, and it was approved for production in May of last year.

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