Southern Company is one of America’s premier energy companies, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. As an industry leader committed to energy innovation, Southern Company employees are on the forefront of delivering new ideas that will build the future of energy.
Southern Company recognized the power of its employees as a problem- solving resource. In May 2014, the company announced an internal competition known as ‘SO Prize.’ The competition asked employees to submit innovative solutions to allow the company to continue to successfully serve customers in the future. Surfacing nearly 1,000 ideas, six winners were announced, and pilot programs were implemented to explore and evaluate the viability of the ideas.
"Southern Company recognized the power of its employees as a problem-solving resource"
As a result of SO Prize, Southern Company opened the Energy Innovation Center (EIC) in 2015 to accelerate innovation across the entire organization. The EIC provides digital crowdsourcing, consulting and ideation methodologies and tools to help employees bring their ideas to life.
The SO Prize challenge was powered by a crowdsourcing ideation platform that has since been used to support multiple Winner system-wide, company-specific or area- focused online ideation challenges. One challenge launched by the EIC was the ‘One-Day Challenge’, a monthly session designed to engage employees across 11 states. These challenges enable employees to virtually collaborate and ideas are assigned to different business units for evaluation.
In less than three years, almost half of nearly 30,000 employees visited the ideation platform, with 40 percent actively participating in challenges. More than 3,200 ideas have been generated with hundreds moving into the pipeline for advancement and implementation.
Another SO Prize idea resulted in Smart Neighbourhood™ initiatives in Alabama and Georgia to explore the industry’s latest energy-efficient product building materials. These examples demonstrate Southern Company’s commitment to identifying innovative ways to better serve its customers and communities in the Southeast and beyond.