June 5, 2023

Tech Connect 2023: Innovation, Transformation, Optimization

Innovation and technology are crucial to the way we live, work and learn. Technology has made information more accessible than ever and allows us to connect and communicate with people from all over the world. Innovation has led to the development of new products and services that have revolutionized our lives, making daily tasks more efficient and improving our quality of life.

At Cengage Group, we embrace innovation and technology in education and celebrate its ability to enhance educational experiences for students and educators. We use technology to create personalized learning experiences by developing digital learning solutions that cater to the unique needs of students and teachers.

This spring, we brought together our global technology team across all areas of our business for several days of learning with a focus on innovation at work. The gathering enabled technologists to collaborate around ways we can optimize and transform how we work to deliver on technology priorities across Cengage Group. The event included fireside chats with technology leaders, an innovation hack-a-thon and other activities aimed at sustaining and expanding our innovation culture at Cengage Group. Given the speed at which it is evolving, generative AI was also a focus.

The group heard from guest speakers including Jon Hirschtick, the founder and former CEO of SolidWorks, who shared his thoughts about the value of curiosity, how many bad ideas we need to go through to get to a good idea and how we shouldn’t aim for consensus. George White, the Director of Transformation at Slalom Consulting, spoke about the importance of working as a team, as well as about the efficacy of the Business Model Canvas. Michael Hansen, Cengage Group CEO, also talked with the group about the role that technology innovation plays in continuing to grow our business and the opportunity we have to leverage generative AI to continue to improve the learning experience.

Read on to learn about what employees took away from Tech Connect 2023.


Tech Connect Innovation Collage


Innovation Insights

When I was invited to TechConnect, I wasn't sure what to expect,” said Dan M., Manager, Software Engineering for Gale. “I hadn’t been to any cross-company technology events like this previously. When we were asked to collaborate on teams with people I've never met, initially I was a bit uncomfortable. It proved to be a more productive and congenial experience than I had anticipated. The framework we were introduced to was helpful in providing a structure for defining our innovations and ideas. I would definitely recommend attending Tech Connect to others in my organization.”

Matt G., Director, Architecture added, “Tech Connect was informative and inspirational. I gained new perspective on innovation and learned some practical approaches to problem solving. A few of my takeaways were:

  • Innovation is more than just disruptive technologies – it’s a way of working that applies creativity to all kinds of problem solving.
  • Ideas are only as good as the business model around them, and the Business Model Canvas can help build that model.
  • Part of building an innovative culture is celebrating the process, not just the outputs, including embracing failure and experimentation.” 

“I was really happy with Tech Connect,” said Doug M., Senior Vice President of Technology for Cengage Work. “These events can often be more high-level and disconnected from our day-to-day work. Having an event where we mixed innovation with real, tangible ideas or projects that we could work on was great, and really drove engagement with our teams."

“Tech Connect was a welcome opportunity to step outside of my day-to-day responsibilities and stretch to identify new ways to innovate as a technology organization,” said Alexis F., Manager, Software Engineering. “So much of my time is spent in the incremental end of the innovation spectrum, so having space to explore radical and disruptive innovation with so many of my talented and knowledgeable colleagues was very welcome! I enjoyed meeting and collaborating with colleagues across Cengage technology groups, and it really helped me better understand the innovation occurring across Cengage Group.” 


Tech Connect Innovation Quote


“I feel incredibly energized by what we accomplished together,” said Jim Chilton, Chief Technology Officer. “I saw people's perspective on innovation shift as we talked about the role it plays in our work and the work our teams are doing each day. I watched boundaries dissolve as we learned more about what others are working on. We explored how we can better share technology learnings, best practices and innovations across and between our technology teams. People connected, we aligned, and together we harnessed the power of collaboration to generate 300+ new ideas for Cengage Group!”

Innovate With Us

At Cengage Group, we help millions of learners improve their lives and achieve their dreams through education. If you’re interested in working in innovation and technology, visit our careers page to find available edtech jobs.