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The Power of Cross-Field Collaboration

An Interview with Dr. Jassim Al Awadhi Senior Director Transformation, Independent Expert, Speaker
Jana Pijak
June 20th, 2024

Related Trend Reports

AI, Business, Market, Retail, Tech
Dr. Jassim Al Awadhi has 20+ years of experience in the telecommunication sector, including engineering, product development and design, project management, and customer experience—designed and enhanced fixed and mobile products and services, optimizing customer experience touch-point journey. Recently, Jassim has been part of the Digital Transformation program in a leading telecom organization. Jassim holds a Bachelor's degree in electronics engineering, a Master's degree in strategic management, and a PhD in Digital transformation, specifically in AI implementation. Jassim has published peer-reviewed articles and is a speaker and panelist in research and conferences.

1. What does innovation mean to you?

For me, innovation is about more than just generating value. It is about creating new ideas, optimizing processes, and tweaking or generating new products or services. It is about addressing poorly served needs or creatively solving existing problems. It is about developing and executing solutions that substantially influence the organization's internal or external customers. Moreover, it is about the quick-win impact of innovative ideas that you can control and change.

2. How do you/your team generate new ideas?

I believe in a collaborative approach when it comes to generating new ideas. For instance, I believe in brainstorming sessions, which foster dynamic discussions where team members can freely exchange ideas, thoughts, and concepts without the fear of debate. I also value cross-field collaboration, which involves bringing together individuals with diverse professional backgrounds and experiences to provide different perspectives on specific issues. However, I believe that the customer's voice is crucial. We can create ideas that effectively address their pain points by listening to and analyzing consumers' feedback, challenges, and suggestions. This collaborative approach ensures that all voices are heard and considered, leading to more comprehensive and innovative solutions.

Last but not least, monitoring and analyzing the competitive advantage of competitors in the same sector or region is essential to identifying gaps and opportunities in the market by observing market trends and competitor activities and then setting up events that emphasize quick designs and creativity.

3. Do you have any specific rituals for resetting creativity?

I have found the following rituals to be effective in resetting creativity. Taking short breaks can be beneficial for clearing the mind and gaining new insight. Further, shifting surroundings can stimulate new ideas by working in various locations, such as outdoor spaces or co-working hubs. Moreover, I believe in the power of continuous learning. Acquiring new knowledge and participating in activities or initiatives unrelated to your particular routine area stimulate novel perspectives. Thus, mindset isolation leads to innovative ideas, so most innovative organizations set up their innovation centres in isolation from their operations. This commitment to continuous learning and seeking new perspectives ensures that creativity is always fresh and innovative.

4. How do you identify trends? What resources do you rely on to spot trends and consumer insights?

In the current fast-paced changing era, trend identification requires continuous market research by consistently assessing consumer behaviours and analyzing consumer feedback surveys, market changes, and economic industry reports. Social media platforms are crucial, thus monitoring conversations on LinkedIn, X (Twitter), and specialized forums. In addition, participate in industry conferences and trade shows to observe emerging trends and establish connections with thought leaders and influencers to acquire insights into future orientations.

5. What is the biggest challenge you face when innovating?

The primary barrier in innovation programs is the complex equilibrium between idea execution and innovation. Resistance to new ideas is frequently encountered due to the existence of organizational structures, budget constraints, or fear of risk-taking. Fostering a culture that values change, ensures stakeholders are updated on their innovative idea progress status, and allocates resources for experimentation is the path to tackle resistance concerns.

6. What makes an innovative culture? What advice would you give to organizations looking to create a culture of innovation?

An innovative culture is distinguished by fostering creativity and allowing employees to think creatively by giving them the necessary time and space. Supportive leadership is the most significant factor in driving innovative organizational culture. It is achieved by supporting innovative concepts, allocating sufficient resources, being risk-tolerant, and accepting failures as a component of the learning process.

Further, organizations supporting continuous learning offer opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and the development of skills. Also, ensuring a collaborative environment fosters cross-functional collaboration and cooperation and encourages innovation focus. I advise organizations to foster an innovative culture by investing in employee training and establishing a rewarding program. In addition to upskilling their executive management, they are the ones who empower employees and deliver the proper communications to gain trust.

7. The recent generative AI boom has impacted many aspects of our lives, including education, government infrastructures, healthcare and more. How do you see the evolution of AI technology continuing to affect the broader workforce in the near future?

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology will continue to enhance human capabilities by automating routine tasks and allowing employees to concentrate on more strategic, creative, and complex problem-solving activities. It will demand the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce to accommodate new tools and workflows, as well as the creation of new job categories and the transformation of existing ones.

8. What is your advice for organizations skeptical about embracing or leveraging AI technology within their industry?

Start with a clear vision and strategy and start on a small scale. Begin with pilot initiatives to demonstrate the value of AI without significant risk. Besides focusing on the technological aspect of AI tools and systems, training programmes should be invested in reducing fear of uncertainty and developing internal expertise. On the other hand, collaborate with AI specialists and consultants to effectively facilitate the adoption process with continuous monitoring and outcome evaluation to establish a strong case for large-scale adoption.

Stay informed about the latest developments in artificial intelligence and relevant case studies in your field. Remember that there is no shortcut to implementing cognitive technologies. Therefore, start small, grow step by step, and build an organization ready for cognitive technology implementation by looking at technology, organization, and institutional factors.

9. Looking to the future, can you share any exciting projects you are working on?

One of the most engaging projects we are currently engaged in is the integration of AI-driven analytics into our customer service platform. This initiative is designed to improve the customer experience, response times, and next-best products. Depending on and unleashing the predictive power of machine learning algorithms, our objective is to more accurately anticipate customer behaviour and requirements and offer proactive solutions, enhancing
operational efficiency and overall customer satisfaction.
References: linkedin