“With AI to become more human, humans are likely to become more human”, said Rajiv Jayaraman, CEO, KNOLSKAPE, in an exclusive interaction with CXOToday. The pace at which we are digitizing and advancing in technology, it has become imperative for the business houses to empower their workforce. If we go by statistics, more than 52% of companies have disappeared from the global Fortune 500 list since the year 2000 mainly because of lagging behind in the digital race. Thus, there is an emphasis on the need of digitally empowered and skilled leadership to sustain and grow their businesses. Sharing his entrepreneurial journey, Rajiv Jayaraman unfolded several interesting features that the technologically advanced future holds for us.
CXOToday: Please tell us about KNOLSKAPE and what inspired you to embark on the journey?
Rajiv Jayaraman: KNOLSKAPE is an experiential solutions provider that is working towards transforming organizations’ workforce into a digitally empowered one. With the world transforming into a digitally connected ecosystem, we believe it is important for organizations to adopt new business approaches, replacing the traditional ones.
The journey of KNOLSKAPE heralded a decade ago with the mission of making the classrooms more experiential. I had just graduated from my MBA program then and I realized our classrooms do not really prepare us for life. There was a need of creating better classrooms which could bring leadership to life and transform learners into decision-makers. So, we started off making the classrooms more experiential, more gamified, introducing elements of fun in the learning process, and developing products which will bring leadership, management, and business skills to real life by allowing the learners to make decisions.
The first five years of our organization were dedicated to academics whereby we worked with the top B-Schools like Amity, North Western Kellogg, ISB India to make their classrooms more experiential.
In 2012, we made a shift to corporates when we realized the rapid penetration of technology in our lives and how traditional learning wasn’t working for most of the organizations. The deliverables were massive, and the HR leaders weren’t prepared to meet the challenges like imparting skills to the workforce. They were juggling between questions like whether the training programs will help them, if they will be able to apply the skills back at their workplace and if the ROI of the training will be visible.
CXOToday: Could you please elaborate a bit on the kind of challenges that the organizations are facing today?
Rajiv Jayaraman: As mentioned above, the organizations are struggling with empowering their workforces. Broadly, they can be said to be facing the following challenges:
1. On boarding challenge
3. Assessment of employees
“Accelerated Employee Development” is something that is being demanded by the organizations.
The organizations need to gear up and create a healthy leadership with great qualities which can bring about digital transformation in the organizations.
CXOToday: Please explain what does the acronym BLUR in your book “Clearing the Digital BLUR™” mean?
Rajiv: Clearing the Digital BLUR™ is an industrial playbook which covers top four components which are blurring in the companies. The acronym stands for:
B- Boundaryless organization
L- Limitless digitization
U- Unbounded innovation
R- Relentless iterations
To explain each one of them, the organizations with boundaries belong to the industrial era. The companies which are still working on the traditional path, follow boundaries or what can be called compartments in the form of departments. In the digital era, customers are becoming the “central entity” of the businesses instead of “end-product”. This shift from “end product” to “central entity” has made the boundaries or departments in the organizations become hazy with hierarchies becoming invisible. By 2020, a new team is going to become the key part of the organizations which will be called the “customer acquisition team” comprising of a technologist, marketing person, a PR person, and salesperson, merging all the respective departments and making boundary-less organizations.
The organizations are going to become boundaryless through the digital platforms which assimilate fragmented experiences. In these boundaryless organizations, value-chain would not exist. Rather, the value would be nourished without any chain.
With limitless digitization, organizations will unlock new value and potential and create new experiences. It is about the story of data and the creation of “Internet of Humans” similar to Internet of Things.
Unbounded Innovation can be understood in terms of innovation which will flow within the organization with other changes. The organizations will have innovated roles within the organizations which cannot be accommodated in the traditional organizations.
Relentless iterations clearly refer to the constant evolutions that the organizations will seek. In today’s era, businesses can’t remain static. Business models, strategies, and ecosystems need to be changed from time to time.
And all of this can flow only if the organizations have digitally empowered resources.
CXOToday: How’s KNOLSKAPE helping the organizations in overcoming these challenges?
Rajiv Jayaraman: We are helping organizations in two ways, by helping them create great leaders and by helping them in pursuing digital transformation. In our leadership program, we focus on:
In order to pace up digital transformation, the digital academy has been created which focuses on:
-Digital assessment (for readiness)
-Digital awareness (of technology)
-Digital execution (to deal with data and analytics)
-Digital strategy (movement from traditional to digital model)
We call this framework of digital transformation as “Digital leap frog”.
CXOToday: What according to you are must-have lessons for Biz leaders in the digital era?
Rajiv Jayaraman: Business leaders in the digital era need to understand that digital is not just about technology. It is about leveraging technology to achieve agility, customer experience and unlock value. They also need to understand how business models require a change in the digital era.
Business leaders really need to learn to say, “I don’t know” and imbibe the word digital as DNA because it is only then that they will able to inculcate changes in culture and management.
CXOToday: What are your plans for the year 2018-19?
Rajiv Jayaraman: This year, our key focus will be on two things:
1. To grow geographically: We plan to expand KNOLSKAPE in India, Singapore, U.S, and Malaysia and unlock partnerships in these regions.
2. Create platforms that can be subscribed by the organization where various tools and software will be integrated.