We have announced our partnership with University of Illinois to open the Neustar Innovation Center, a research facility located at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The Center will bring students together with tech innovators to develop technologies to solve a variety of customer problems. In 2012, the Innovation Center will focus on Big Data, in particular the exploration of how data analytics can help our customers solve problems and advance their businesses in entirely new ways.
Ken Taylor recently joined us as director of the Innovation Center. Prior to joining us at Neustar, Ken served as technology principal for Yahoo! Right Media eXchange where he focused on large-scale data processing, collection and analysis. He’s worked with high-tech startups and Fortune 100 companies like Sears Holdings Corporation, Motorola, Inc. and Amdocs, and also has held teaching positions at the University of Illinois.
I caught up with Ken and asked him a few questions about his new role and his thoughts on creating an environment conducive to innovation and growth.
EB: What is the Neustar Innovation Center?
KT: The Neustar Innovation Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign brings together industry and academia to solve challenging real world problems in computer and data sciences. We benefit from the student talent that the University has to offer, while the students benefit from real world experience.
EB: What is your vision for the research at the Lab?
KT: It should be an interesting and enjoyable place to work. It should challenging and allow us to focus on a variety of problems applicable to the various business units within Neustar. We want to encourage radical thinking in application to the challenging issues that businesses, ecosystems, communities and governments are facing around managing technology, information and data.
EB: Who has inspired you (past or present) to think differently and innovate?
KT: I have to say that my parents played a large part. My dad was constantly working on a variety of projects. He built his own photographic dark room and an animation table. He helped me construct a seismograph and a pinhole camera. My mom had her own publishing company for thirty years that produced an antique guide. Before she got a computer, for several years the guide was hand-printed on a proof press—located in our basement–with movable type. My sister and I were employed to set the type and my dad would print the pages. From these examples, I learned at an early age that you can create things yourself.
EB: What is your professional philosophy for leading innovation?
KT: Allow people to fail, and then let them try again, learning as they go. Brainstorm openly and encourage people to pitch their ideas.