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People innovation is key to the future workplace

November 9, 2016 By: Krista Jones

Ever since I started working, more than 25 years ago, it seems as though the message has been the same in both small and large companies alike: people are the key to an organization’s success. If that’s the case, though, why is there such an urgent need for innovation in people-based processes today? Why is it no longer just important but imperative for organizations to embrace innovation at the heart of their businesses, within both their cultures and their people-based processes?

The answers to these questions lie in the environmental conditions that have created the perfect storm swirling around enterprises of all sizes.

The environmental conditions creating the storm are all attacking the foundational elements in business.

  1. Workers are fundamentally and irrevocably changing.
  2. Technologies and new business models are transforming the work that needs to be done overnight.
  3. Knowledge acquisition and skill development are significantly behind the needs of industry.
  4. New technology-based companies with modern cultures (such as Facebook, Google and Uber, among others) are employing an increasingly large percentage of the modern workforce.

People at work
This perfect storm will cripple organizations that do not have a survival plan. Companies can no longer simply batten down the hatches and ride it out. In order to survive, they need to create whole new people structures based upon different skills, tools and processes.

At MaRS, we have been on the front line of the tech transformations occurring across all industries for over a decade. As we work with our corporate partners to assist them on their innovation journeys, we have seen them progress beyond the need for an innovation lab or a separate digital enablement team. The urgent need today is to move the entire corporation to a more modern culture with widespread innovation/technology skills and employee processes that bridge the generational gap between millennials, generation Xers and baby boomers.

The great news is that we have concurrently seen a growth of entrepreneurs and technologists building people-based solutions that use artificial intelligence, machine learning, sensor networks, big and small data, online communities and many other technological advancements to create inclusive, modern, personalized and mobile people-based solutions.


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Krista Jones is the head of the Work & Learning Cluster at MaRS. Krista has been a passionate innovator and builder of technology-based businesses for over 25 years, and has personally advised and been actively involved in over 200 startups.