Traditionally, new ideas for products are filtered with a top-down approach within an organization. This can sometimes keep the best innovations from coming to fruition. ParkMobile created Innovation (I/O) Week to give our engineers the opportunity to creatively solve problems critical to our business. “I/O Week has been one of the most rewarding activities in my entire career. It’s an investment in our people,” says Matt Ball, ParkMobile CTO. “We know our employees can see the problems customers face on a daily basis, and through technology, we can make the everyday parking experience that much easier.” I/O Week empowers our engineers with the autonomy to identify gaps and collaborate cross-functionally in order to drive our product forward.
I/O Week kicks off with our leadership team talking to our engineers about innovation at ParkMobile – a priority that is deeply embedded in our culture and closely tied to one of our most important core values: A Healthy Obsession with the Customer Experience. I/O Week gives our engineers a dedicated timeframe to truly obsess over the technological aspects of our product that they want to innovate on and improve for the customer. In the past year, we’ve been recognized for several awards surrounding our dedication to innovation as a company, including TAG’s Top 10 Innovative Companies, Atlanta Inno’s 50 on Fire, and the Stevie Award for Most Innovative Tech Company of the Year.
“Innovation Week is really important for ParkMobile. It’s a chance for all of our folks to get together and spend time thinking about what they would do for the business,” says Jon Ziglar, ParkMobile CEO. “We’ve got incredibly dynamic and interesting people with great ideas. Giving them the free rein to create without restrictions is a great thing for us, and ultimately, it’s a great thing for our clients.” After our leadership team has the opportunity to speak, we allow our engineers to share their ideas in order to rally help from others who might be interested in collaborating on their projects. From there, the teams go straight into production mode.
Throughout the course of the week, our engineers dive headfirst into bringing their ideas to life. “I/O Week is a great opportunity for the engineers, the product managers, and really anyone at ParkMobile to get involved with new ideas … the ideas that are just floating around in our minds, the what-ifs,” says Joy Guerin, Product Manager. “We get a week of time to come into the office and really collaborate across the business. People can step outside of their normal day-to-day roles and just be creative.”
This year, our engineers and developers explored various projects, including creating a new search experience, testing a dynamic pricing prototype, and implementing voice interactions to bridge our application with in-car and in-home voice systems. “I/O Week gives us the opportunity to create something that is important to us and really make an impact,” says Jamaal Hutchinson, Software Development Engineer.
To break up the work week, we invited David Cummings to the office to speak to our engineers about his entrepreneurial journey. Cummings is an Atlanta-based tech entrepreneur who has founded 10 companies collectively valued at nearly $1 billion, including Pardot, SalesLoft, and Terminus. “Atlanta has been good to me, so I’m always looking for ways to give back,” says Cummings. After telling his story, the engineers got the opportunity to ask questions to inform and inspire their own endeavors.
Come Friday, we have a final capstone to showcase the work accomplished during I/O week. The engineers prepare pitches to showcase their projects to a panel of judges, which includes the ParkMobile leadership team, internal employees, and surprise guests. Each team of engineers has the opportunity to get in front of the company to sell us on why their solution is innovative to the problem they’re trying to solve. Once the pitches are wrapped up, awards are issued for Best in Show, Highest Quality, Most Likely to See Production, and more.
“After I/O Week, we discuss the solutions presented and consider introducing those innovations to our consumers,” says Matt Ball, ParkMobile CTO. “From a technology perspective, the learnings from I/O Week feed directly into the next set of projects.”