Auto insurer Progressive announced last week that the company has been included on a list of 100 top business technology innovators in the United States, earning the honor for its Business Innovation Garage.

Progressive ranked 83rd on this year’s InformationWeek Elite 100, the Mayfield Village, Ohio insurer said in a statement, noting that this is Progressive’s 16th year being recognized by InformationWeek.

BIG logo & door side shotThe Business Innovation Garage, known to Progressive employee’s as BIG, is an internal think-tank for innovating products and services at the company. The garage has a physical location at company headquarters and is staffed by a team of analysts and IT developers working for a garage manager who prioritizes the work and oversees the innovation process.

Progressive’s BIG idea is also being featured in the second-quarter edition of Carrier Management and in an online series of articles next month highlighting 16 P/C insurance industry innovators. Among them is Dave Pratt, s General Manager of Usage-Based Insurance at Progressive, who explains that BIG is an outgrowth of a “test-and-learn culture” and one of a number of programs to help foster innovation among our employees.

Giving more specifics, Erin Baginski, a Progressive IT Director who oversees BIG, notes that while the garage door officially opened to be engaged by all of Progressive’s 26,000 employees in April of this year, it had been running in pilot mode—and generating ideas—before that.

Articles featuring Baginski and Pratt will be published on Carrier Management at the end of May.
“In a meeting back in 2009, an employee submitted a question to our CEO Glenn Renwick about having a separate business unit that could be a secure think-tank for innovating products and services at Progressive. After researching and presenting options to our business leaders, including Chief Information Officer Ray Voelker, the idea was turned into a reality,” she says, going on to answer Carrier Management’s questions about what innovations have garage mechanics have tinkered with so far.

“Innovation requires some degree of speed, so BIG allows us to fail fast, innovate faster and get best-in-class products to market in such a highly-regulated environment like the insurance industry,” Voelker said in a statement about the InformationWeek honor.

Progressive notes that this is InformationWeek’s 27th year identifying and honoring the nation’s most innovative users of information technology. The InformationWeek Elite 100 research tracks the technology-based investments, strategies, and results of some of the best-known organizations in the country. Unique among corporate rankings,the InformationWeek Elite 100 spotlights the power of business technology innovation.

The full list, which can be found on, includes other companies working in or with the P/C insurers. They include: The Weather Company at No. 5; Allstate at No. 8; Aon at #32, Lockton at #89; Marsh at #96.

About InformationWeek

InformationWeek provides CIOs and IT executives with commentary, analysis and research through an online community, digital issues, webcasts, proprietary research and live events.