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Xerox innovation: How PARC’s Inxight Software was developed?

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Xerox Corporation, founded in 1906, manufactures printers, scanners, fax machines, multifunction devices, and digital printing and publishing systems. Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is a Xerox subsidiary and part of its research investment strategy.

Inxight Software: A Xerox Innovation that provides Beyond Search experience  

When Ramana Rao joined Xerox’s research division PARC in 1986, it was his second stint at the company. He had previously worked at PARC 6 years ago for a summer, then went on to complete his bachelor’s degree and travelled the world. 

During this second stint, as a researcher, he worked on several projects and became an author and inventor on multiple papers and patents respectively, in areas like information visualization, search, web extraction, digital libraries, and text analytics applications. 

“One feeling I had at PARC was that I could figure out the next big thing. I wanted it to be something I cared about and could see in the world.” – Ramana Rao

It was in the year 1990, he joined a team working on user interfaces. During this period, he created Inxight software, a new graphical interface that made it easy to organize information. Behind the working of this Xerox innovation was his idea for Hyperbolic trees, which is an interface that could examine and organize information in three dimensions. 

The hyperbolic tree interface allowed users to see and easily navigate an entire bank of information – a Web site, an organizational chart, a database – at one glance. Instead of having to click and scroll through numerous areas, users of the tree could just select one area to zoom in on that information while shrinking the rest of the display.  The interface was useful for web surfing and dealing with large volumes of data.

Rao also co-invented Inxight’s Table Lens, a technique for viewing large tables of data that enables users to quickly pick out patterns and anomalies.

Six years later, Inxight Software was formed. The company spun out from Xerox’s PARC in 1996 and raised $55 million in multiple rounds after the spinout.  The company was considered the leading provider of enterprise software solutions for information discovery.

Its customers include enterprise companies such as Air Products, DaimlerChrysler, Novartis, Purdue Pharma, Thomson, multiple U.S. and foreign government agencies, and software OEMs such as SAP, SAS, and IBM.

“Cars made all of us able to run like leopards. These tools could make us all think more like Einstein.” – Ramana Rao 

Inxight software was made possible by intrapreneurs like Ramana Rao. In our view, he shares the spotlight with all the other intrapreneurs who have done amazing work, be it Nitin Prajanpe at HUL, Mr. Sivakumar at ITC, or George Swenson at 3M. These are just a few and there are countless others whose efforts changed the fortunes of their organization. Want to know the reason behind their innovation success? Effective idea capture and implementation. And you can get that for your organization too. How? Get your hands on the best idea management software today.

Recommended read: What reasons led to Xerox’s downfall?

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