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Cognizant Aims for Major Uplift in Bluebolt Grassroots Innovation Program in 2024


Cognizant has a long history of continuous improvement and innovation. However, its grassroots delivery teams were reticent in taking minor innovations to clients, so it underperformed in idea and innovation generation and ran beneath the radar, with clients typically unaware of innovations being undertaken.

However, in 2023, following the arrival of its new CEO, the company took the decision to focus on service improvement at scale, with its innovation program rebranded as Bluebolt and relaunched on April 21, 2023.

Cognizant believes its Bluebolt innovation program is already leading to greater levels of grassroots innovation activity, greater client recognition of innovation being carried out in their accounts, and increased associate engagement.

Indeed, the company’s ten key priorities in its 2024 Bluebolt roadmap include increasing client visibility, planning innovation days with client-impacting themes, increasing the pace and quality of ideas generated, and launching its innovation-as-a-service offering in conjunction with Cognizant Consulting.

Using Bluebolt Platform & Enabling Ecosystem to Ensure Scalability

Cognizant has developed a proprietary platform and enabling ecosystem to manage innovation processes, metrics, and documentation to ensure that innovation can be handled in a standardized and reliable manner at scale across its organization. The enabling ecosystem includes:

  • Cognizant’s proprietary Bluebolt platform, that orchestrates the processes associated with innovation and manages innovation from ideation to impact
  • Learning modules
  • Governance, to ensure that what is reported is authentic and repeatable
  • Consulting, working with the consulting team to offer this capability as a service to the market and to drive success within client accounts
  • Bluebolt Garage, using bench capacity to develop MVPs and reusable assets that can be used across the company
  • Recognition programs, rewarding people monthly, quarterly, and annually.

In addition, Cognizant has recently launched its generative AI-enabled innovation assistant, which assists associates in identifying frequent problems and exploring solutions. Its library includes all Cognizant’s innovations undertaken in the past five years, abstracting the details and removing client attribution. It has been used by ~10,000 associates so far and is now being enhanced to address RFP responses.

Using Innovation Days to Boost Joint Ideation

Cognizant classifies the types of innovation from its Bluebolt program into:

  • Incremental, where the company improves on the quality, efficiency, or effectiveness within an existing client project
  • Adjacencies, where Cognizant innovates on something complementary to the work already being done, possibly resulting in a separate order for this work
  • Transformative, leveraging emerging technologies to create new solutions and offerings.

An example of a recent incremental solution was shortening the KYC process for a banking client; an example of an adjacency innovation is applying analytics to produce harvest timing recommendation, germination and yield prediction models for a biotechnology client; and an example of a transformative innovation is implementing digital chassis car-to-cloud services for a semiconductor client.

Hackathons and ideathons are key mechanisms in boosting these innovations. In 2023, Cognizant carried out 41 hackathons and 18 ideations involving clients, and 70 and 87, respectively, involving solely Cognizant associates.

In addition, Cognizant is increasingly using innovation days to generate immersive innovation experiences for clients. These joint ideation sessions can include client-centric, domain-specific product-aligned themes; account priorities to accelerate performance, e.g., by showcasing all Cognizant platforms and enablers; and global themes and challenges, including sustainability.

Within sustainability, the major themes are net zero pathways, sustainability and ESG reporting, sustainable product development and circular economy, sustainable manufacturing and operations, and sustainable supply chains. These sustainability themes have 235 sub-themes and 200 specific prompts that can be used with clients and prospects.

Achieving Client Satisfaction Uptick with Innovations & Improvements Following Bluebolt Introduction

Cognizant is experiencing an uptick in client satisfaction as a result of Bluebolt. Satisfaction with innovations and improvements delivered by associates has increased over the past 12 months from 4.18 to 4.36.

In the 12 months following its launch, the Bluebolt program has achieved:

  • 130k ideas generated
  • 23k ideas implemented, with a number of these funded by clients as an adjacency
  • 220k associates trained on Bluebolt.

Of the 130k ideas generated, ~5% are transformative, ~35% are adjacent, and ~60% are incremental. 8,927 of the 23k ideas implemented impacted client value streams and 321 were directly funded by clients. Elsewhere, clients may be willing to co-invest using the innovation funds typically incorporated within Cognizant’s larger contracts.

Cognizant is now targeting a major increase in impact from its Bluebolt initiative in 2024. It achieved 104k ideas generated by December 2023 and was initially targeting 200k ideas generated in 2024. This target has recently been reset to 500k. In addition, its 2024 targets include:

  • 20% growth in impact measures
  • 250+ Bluebolt garage projects leading to MVPs
  • 500+ client-facing cases that can be published for wider internal use
  • Filing a patent application for the Bluebolt Central platform.

To increase the chances of achieving these targets and ensure that innovation is firmly embedded in the company, these goals have been included in the bonus plans of ~900 senior delivery leaders.

Further pressure is placed on account teams, and greater visibility of innovation within client accounts is being achieved by client Bluebolt journey summaries being provided to the CEO before his client meetings. These show the key innovation statistics, including the numbers of ideas generated and implemented, the top ideas generated by the ideathon, and client feedback.

The impact measures used include:

  • Revenues for clients
  • Revenues for Cognizant (from client-funded adjacent initiatives)
  • Hard cost savings for clients
  • Hard cost savings for Cognizant.

Bluebolt garage projects typically involve 8-10 associates for an 8-week period. So far, 133 ideas have been evaluated and shortlisted, 70 garage projects are in progress, and 13 MVPs have been produced.

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