As a HR Tech World blogger I interviewed Tej Mehta of i-Cube to find out what their company is showing in the disruptHR startup zone, and their views on the how the world of work is changing.
FAYE: Thanks for taking the time to talk today, so tell me, who are you and what is driving you to set up this venture?
TEJ: My name is Tej Mehta, and I am the Founder & CEO of i-Cube.
I can best describe myself as an engineer with a humanities bend of mind. I founded i-Cube with the idea of learning from nature and leveraging technology to develop more organic (and thus highly effective) ways to solve some of the biggest problems we are facing today.
Let me give you an example – for the most part of history, we as human beings have lived in communities. This was because it allowed for high levels of social interaction, free exchange of ideas, and better protection. This led us to innovate and rapidly develop technologies that enabled exponential progress. Then came the industrial era, where we moved to a much more individual-centric approach. Nuclear families developed, and individual success (however you measure it) became the objective. Modern business practices and management systems also developed during this era. We now stand at the cusp of yet another wave of change as we move towards a knowledge-driven economy. We are re-discovering the value of social networks and communities, albeit enabled through technology. As computers evolve to replace most of the tasks that humans could do in the industrial era, our value is much more defined by the qualities that make us uniquely human, than our hard skills per se. Clearly, methods of daily living and business processes developed for the industrial era will not work anymore.
So, how can we shift our perspective to this new paradigm? It is these sorts of questions that we are trying to answer at i-Cube.
FAYE: So what are you going to be showing us at disruptHRTech this year that builds on this vision?
TEJ: We are developing an exciting new product called OWEN, which is based on the intersection of analytics and social sciences. It offers a fundamentally new approach to people management & engagement by understanding and analysing the human social networks inside organizations. disruptHRTech is a great place to showcase this brand new perspective in front of the thought leaders and early adopters in the HR Community. It is a unique opportunity to meet these visionaries, and influencers and have conversations with them to make this new approach highly impactful.
FAYE: Tell us a little more about your product and what it does?
TEJ: OWEN (stands for Organizational Web of Evolving Networks) is a network analysis platform that helps organizations manage change, drive engagement, enhance performance as well as enable rapid innovation. OWEN uses well-researched social network theories, and blends it with sophisticated analytics and machine learning methods to provide completely new methods at managing and engaging employees. OWEN offers a simple, intuitive interface to visualize these networks from different perspectives, and derive key insights. The information that was hitherto tacit, can now become explicit and fact-based.
We offer OWEN not just as a product, but as a complete service-enabled solution – one that combines the services and know-how of domain experts with the insights derived from the tool – to help organizations move to a new paradigm. To achieve this at scale, we are also developing a training program for experts in Organizational Design/HR that will help them best utilize the output/data of the product to determine the best approaches and solutions for their organizations.
FAYE: How do you define your marketplace today? And how do you see it changing?
TEJ: We currently appeal highly to large, knowledge-based companies (IT, Services, Consulting etc.) across the globe (North America, Europe, Asia). As more and more industries move towards a new world of work (rapid innovation, millennial workforce, new technology), companies will continue to find that their old ways of managing people just do not work.
There is a fundamental shift from a top-down, management-centric approach to a co-creation based, engagement-centric approach. “Economies of scale” are giving way to “Economies of Network” – it is less important to measure individual performance, and more important to measure community/team performance. OWEN is a smart platform that enables this new approach, and in this respect we see huge potential.
FAYE: What is your view on the buyer market – its ability to innovate, engage and contract for new technologies?
TEJ: Our approach is to have our experts work directly with the organizations and their teams to ensure that they are set up for successful implementation and adoption. Currently companies that engage with us are ‘early adopters’, and we see this sort of approach becoming more ubiquitous over time.
FAYE: How do you differentiate yourself in the market?
TEJ: We have a unique approach to understanding what makes organizations tick. While most other startups are focusing on developing a product for one specific niche of HR, we are offering a holistic solution.
Since we are offering a fundamentally different perspective, we believe that it will be essential to provide organizations with not only with the right product, but also with the expertise to guide them along.
OWEN is insightful & engaging, and can be used in a variety of applications. What makes it truly exceptional is that it combines high-quality network visualizations, key organization metrics, as well as dynamic recommendations in a simple, intuitive user interface that is powered by sophisticated algorithms and powerful big data technology at the backend.
FAYE: You say you use a range of innovative technology solutions – can you explain what that means and how they integrate with other systems?
TEJ: We utilize very different types of data for our solutions – one, a simple yet insightful survey; and two, the meta-data of electronic communication within the organization. OWEN crunches this data using proprietary algorithms and machine learning technology to provide key insights and perspectives. It can be easily deployed in the cloud, or on the company’s servers behind its firewalls.
FAYE: What do you believe are pre-requisites in any new HR Tech?
TEJ: Any new HR Tech should enable HR to make more informed, data driven decisions. It should be easy to deploy and offer an effective approach to people management. This approach should drive action, and ultimately provide business results that impact the bottom line.
FAYE: What would you like to achieve out of participation at HR World Congress this year?
TEJ: Exposure to the influencers and early adopters in the HR Tech/Business community, their valuable feedback, and continuing conversations/engagement with this community.
More about Tej
Tej Mehta is the Founder & CEO of i-Cube.
Tej is an entrepreneur, advisor to CEOs, and a keen student of social sciences. Before founding i-Cube, Tej was a Partner at Seabury Group, a premier aviation consultancy. As a consultant, he used data to glean key insights and tell compelling stories to solve business problems.
He founded i-Cube as an innovation company. i-Cube’s philosophy is to take inspiration from natural ecosystems and use data science to create fundamentally different approaches to solving business problems.
For more information on i-Cube check out www.i-cube.in