While the latest startup company may attract all the media attention, the global economy still relies on enterprises to run today’s technology-driven world. As with any established institution, making structural changes at an enterprise level can be difficult to achieve quickly.
According to Sanjay Varma, a YPO member and Co-founder of Kalido, an enterprise has to become agile because the speed of change in today’s business climate demands it. Varma says that organizations must transform the way they find, empower and deploy talent. They also need to create the opportunity for their workforce to develop and grow their own careers.
Based on the word “kaleidoscope,” pronounced similarly, Kalido is a private online platform for global enterprises and communities. For enterprises, Kalido addresses two sides of the same coin: provide a way for large, traditional companies to keep pace with agile competitors; and offer equal access to professional opportunity for all workers.
“Agility is critical,” says Varma. “You may have the right idea at the board level. But if you can’t mobilize people, and if you don’t allow them to mobilize themselves, then you will always be a step behind, and the competition will eventually win. Kalido enables any enterprise to turn a structured command-and-control workforce into more of a liquid and agile workforce. This is where we shine.”
The power of AI to match people to projects
Key features of the Kalido platform are the 360-degree user profile, groups, chats and a concept called “quests,” which, using AI matching technology, allows users to find connections, skills, teams and opportunities. Unlike a simple, one-time search, a Kalido Quest continues to search and provide results until the user decides to complete it.
For example, Varma says, “With a press of the button, Kalido scans everybody in the organization, all the skillsets, availability and location and tells you ‘here are the 10 best candidates that you should talk to.’ What usually takes several days, if not weeks, can now be accomplished in seconds on Kalido.”
Conversely, employees can seek open projects that match their skills through a “find me a project” quest. This includes visibility to projects that they could apply to if they upskilled and how to acquire those necessary skills. Varma says this allows the employee to feel that they can grow within the organization, rather than grow by leaving it.
Changing your culture to hire and keep key talent
Varma, who previously was the No. 3 hire at Alibaba, has spent a lot of time talking with CEOs of large organizations at the Word Economic Forum. They tell him that finding and retaining the best talent is one of their most significant challenges. He says that leaders who work in technology, in particular, realize that they need to change their corporate culture to address this talent issue to keep the best skill sets in-house.
Varma says that the workforce coming out of college and graduate school today wants to find organizations that offer real diversity, inclusion and transparency. Varma stresses that companies need to understand more about their workforce on a personal level. By implementing Kalido, management can learn more about what is truly important to their workforce and give their employees a way to connect with other people who have similar interests.
“Kalido enables any enterprise to address this younger generation workforce and give them the ability to meet who they want to meet, to participate in whatever projects they want to participate in, and to create work groups and discussion groups without having top-down approval,” says Varma.
He adds that there are certain elements that corporations now have to offer that go beyond a good salary and a career path. He says that today’s talent wants to know what a company stands for. Varma believes this is so important that when they implement Kalido within an enterprise, they ask the company what Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), such as climate change or fighting poverty, are essential to them. Those issues become part of that company’s Kalido platform.
Agility is critical. You may have the right idea at the board level. But if you can’t mobilize people, and if you don’t allow them to mobilize themselves, then you will always be a step behind, and the competition will eventually win. ”
— Sanjay Varma, Co-founder, Kalido share
“When an employee joins the Kalido platform, they are asked about their interests and SDG goals. When someone shares, for example, that they care about SDG10, which is to reduce inequality, Kalido automatically creates a group with others within the enterprise who also are interested in SDG10. Now the employee can connect and chat with that group, which helps them feel that they belong and share a similar purpose,” says Varma.
Business powered by your mission
This emphasis on the company’s mission is critical to Varma. When he co-founded Kalido, the mission was to democratize opportunity. The idea was to focus on how to empower people so they can find work opportunities easily. He says that the mission must come first. “Business changes, industries change. The competitive landscape changes. It is quite easy to start pivoting into other areas where you could make more money and before you know it, you are chasing the dollar. I think that can lead to a lot more failures,” says Varma.
When Varma worked at Alibaba, he learned firsthand the power of staying focused on your mission. Varma tells how in the early days of the company, they spent hours in co-founder Jack Ma’s apartment discussing how to solve problems for small enterprises, which was their mission. He said they came up with many product ideas to empower small business. This single focus at Alibaba was the key driver of some its most successful companies, including Taobao, the Chinese online shopping website, and Alipay, which is now China’s largest digital payment platform.
For existing companies, Varma recommends that they create a mission, communicate that mission and then live by that mission. He continues that CEOs should understand their own values and the global challenges that most appeal to them and their business. Based on that, they should determine what do they need to do with their organization to pivot to focus both on their mission and their business.
“If a CEO does that, he or she will see a very different opportunity set. I think it would resonate well with their business partners, current employees and future employees,” says Varma.