Article: What If? Breaking Barriers to Innovation


What If? Breaking Barriers to Innovation

On Day 2 of TechHR 2018, diverse leaders and experts proposed exciting What if...? questions that can help us design a robust framework for the future of work.
What If? Breaking Barriers to Innovation

What if you had the power to do anything? Would you use it to change yourself, or the world around you? Let’s examine four important and insightful ‘What if....?’ question posed by leaders and experts on Day Two of TechHR 2018 that can help us design the future. 

What If You Could Talk to Tech?

Shridhar Marri, CEO and Co-Founder of, says that talking to technology holds the future of TechHR. There exists a massive gap between the interface and ease of use between personal and professional digital solutions, which needs to be bridged urgently. While the technology and applications developed for mass usage are simple, easy, and seamless, professional solutions like ATS, ERP, and CRM continue to remain clunky and complex. Not only is this a productivity killer, but also one of the biggest reasons why leaders and professionals resist a complete switch to digital solutions. But if HR professionals and employees could talk – quite literally – to technology and software solutions, things would be drastically different. For instance, is applying for leave or enquiring about a specific company policy was as simple as talking to Siri or sending a text on WhatsApp, not only would employees be more engaged, but also more productive. Conversing with AI like a colleague can pave the way for intelligently managing the entire life cycle of an employee – right from the interview to the exit. 

What If People Analytics Is More Than Just People?

Network Analysis was the HR trend of last year and continues to be a key, yet ignored, a piece in people analytics. KetakiSodhi, Doctoral student, University of Akron, explains that today’s analytical tools fail to take into account the invisible and immeasurable social resources of an individual, like, relationships, attitude, emotional intelligence, behavioral flexibility etc. Integrating these factors in the current way of working can yield favorable results and organizations that have experimented in the domain, as they are able to collaborate and innovate better. Network analysis can be used to identify ‘central employees’ that can facilitate the timely spread of accurate information. Furthermore, ‘brokers’, who facilitate collaboration and sharing of ideas, can be leveraged to elevate the productivity of the entire team. While People Analytics can predict the outcomes pertaining to human capital only, network analysis can help organizations measure their social capital, and thus, predict more comprehensive outcomes regarding their workforce. 

What If HR Innovations Diffuse?

While many researches and studies try to decode the formula of success for people practices, the fact of the matter is that most of these ‘best practices’ are non-scalable, casual, path-dependent,  and difficult to replicate outside of their immediate context. Dr.Kavita Pathak, Professor (Marketing) & Director, Jaipuria Institute of Management explains that the fear of duplication has put a premium on those who want to try and adopt new practices and tools. As a result, a chasm has been created between them and those who possess the knowledge to implement scalable and actionable change. In order to fill this void, third-party vendors and researchers need to make their intellectual property more open and accessible and facilitate the spread of ideas from one organization to another. Next, diverse stakeholders with similar interests need to come together and co-create solutions that can benefit everyone. The need for collaborating outside the organization is critical and is required to ensure that the knowledge and innovation benefit the entire industry. Hence, over a period of time, isolated and incremental innovation needs to give way to a diffused and open form of innovation that is accessible and owned by everyone. 

What If the World of Endless Possibilities Was Just a Click Away?

Jaspreet Bakshi, Director & Regional Head, HR People Services India, RBS, says that three critical technologies: AI, Blockchain, and IoT can come together to form a world without boundaries. While the adoption of AI is relatively higher than the other two, there is no denying the fact that we have just scratched the surface when it comes to all three of them. It is imperative to create an ecosystem that not only helps us understand these technologies better but also change the context of what these tools can do and how they can achieve goals. 

To conclude, HR leaders and professionals need to collaborate with technologists, innovators, and entrepreneurs to design the future of work. In order to do so, horizons need to expand and new relationships need to be forged. Understanding technology, human behavior, and existing processes can help us harness the potential of new tools and systems to their fullest extent. 

(This article is based on the session What If? Breaking Barriers to Innovation on Day Two of TechHR 2018. The panellists were: Shridhar Marri, CEO and Co-Founder,, KetakiSodhi, Doctoral student, University of Akron, Dr.Kavita Pathak, Professor (Marketing) & Director Jaipuria Institute of Management, and Jaspreet Bakshi, Director & Regional Head, HR People Services India, RBS. The session was chaired by Charu Khanna, Organizational Consultant.)

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Topics: Diversity, #TechHR2018, #Innovation

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