Client Case: Microsoft Bing


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  • Microsoft Bing was a marquis sponsor of the 2014 Global Innovation Summit (GIS), San Jose, CA. 


  • This GIS was designed to engage participants from around the world about “Innovation Ecosystems” on many levels and through many lenses. 

  • The "Bing Challenge" involved engaging all 400+ conference attendees in innovating ways to leverage internet and search technology in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Bing Challenge question: How do we formalize the informal economies of the world using Internet-based technologies to deliver basic infrastructure services?

    Such technology could enable favela residents to conduct business outside their immediate area, provide ways for the world to find the best of what entrepreneurs are creating in the favelas, and aid local and national governments in providing infrastucture, services, and security.


  • Debriefing the Bing team post-GIS revealed that the insights gathered and synthesized for the conference were highly actionable. Further, they said the work product was novel and well-organized for presentation internally to Bing executives who wanted to see a return on conference sponsorship funding. This was the first time that Bing had ever received a research data/synthesis return from the investment of sponsoring part of a conference. 

Participants & Process

  • The 2014 GIS was attended by over 400 participants from 50 countries and at least 20 industries, including: social impact and business entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, venture fund executives, and government representatives from municipal to ministry level.

  • Bing deployed a team of four to the GIS. A Rainforest facilitator was dedicated to work with the Bing team during the entire conference in a room set up just for synthesizing insights from the GIS to meet Bing's learning goals. 

  • At each break during the GIS, the Bing team convened in their "challenge room" with their dedicated GIS facilitator to synthesize insights, ideas and observations. This repeated activity quickly harvested many valuable gems. On the second day of the conference, the Bing Challenge was offered to all participants at their breakout tables. Four tables (about 40 participants) took up the challenge and dedicated breakout time to addressing the Bing Challenge. 

Project Team:

  • Joe Sterling, Henry Doss, Ann Badillo, Todd Johnston, Victor Hwang, Mark Newberg, and the GIS production team


  • Within a few days after the GIS concluded, Bing received a synthesis of all conference insights, including the their team's work and the work of the 40 attendees who focused on the Bing Challenge. 

  • Bing received the names and contact information of GIS participants who had passionately volunteered time to work on the Bing Challenge.

What Next? 

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