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Technology ‘Petting zoo’ gives employees an early look at IT products

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Article promoted on front page of site--Oct. 9-16--not used in HR Weekly

No animals live at the “petting zoo” at Booz Allen Hamilton’s McLean, VA, headquarters. Instead, the main attraction is “hot-off-the-presses” technology.

Employees of the technology consulting firm can sneak a peek at—and try out—high-tech products before they hit the market.

The company’s technology petting zoo is part of its technology “injection” program, says Bruce Gregor, a principal at the firm. The petting zoo showcases products to employees before the goods are available at the local Best Buy, Gregor says.

But these aren’t necessarily iPods and flat screens. Gregor is tight-lipped about the products on display, but he says the company has been involved with robotics and technology used by the military.

Employees get to see and experiment with products that they can use to help solve client problems. “They’re being sent into the field to deal with their client, and we’re loading the toolbox with everything we can,” Gregor says.

The petting zoo also is open to clients. “Clients come in here and see what we have,” Gregor says. “It differentiates the firm from most of our competition, the fact that we have this sort of resource. That differentiation helps the firm win work.”

Employees who visit the petting zoo as a resource also offer feedback about the new products to their vendors. “We help the vendors tailor the end product. We give them feedback early on. We tie the vendors with some of the staff and help the client tailor the end result,” Gregor says.


Source: This article was excerpted from the "What's Working" column in our monthly Compensation & Benefits newsletter. 

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