Etihad Airways launches iFikra initiative to drive staff innovation

Etihad partners with Canadian start-up to develop platform which aims to unlock potential of airline's workforce
Etihad Airways launches iFikra initiative to drive staff innovation
By Sam Bridge
Thu 20 Jun 2019 05:09 PM

Etihad Airways and Swae, a start-up based in Vancouver, have partnered to launch iFikra, an artificial intelligence-powered platform aimed at unlocking the full potential of the airline’s workforce.

The iFikra platform is a pilot aimed at promoting intrapreneurship by allowing Etihad employees to propose innovative solutions to address the Abu Dhabi-based carrier’s ongoing business challenges and untapped opportunities.

Tony Douglas, group CEO, Etihad Aviation Group, launched the new platform, reaffirming the importance of innovation within the organisation.

He said: “We recognise that there is an abundance of great ideas right here in our organisation and no one knows our business better than our employees, so we developed this tool to give them the platform they need to innovate.

"If we are operating more innovatively internally, our guests will have a far more superior experience when they choose Etihad.”

The new platform leverages artificial intelligence to support and augment written business proposals generated by staff, while enabling an open feedback and collaboration learning loop, based on the principles of transparency and meritocracy, to help escalate the best ideas forward efficiently.

For the first time, employees have the power to shape organisational strategy by voting, commenting and providing constructive feedback on their colleague’s ideas, playing a direct role in the decision-making process, Douglas said.

Ideas that graduate from the platform will be provided with seed funding and support through Etihad’s innovation lab which supports rapid trial and iteration of promising ideas and projects, accelerating the delivery of prototypes, pilots, proof of concepts and minimum viable products.

Swae CEO Soushiant Zangenehpour said: “We’re excited to partner with Etihad on this integration of Swae. We believe Swae’s platform can help Etihad improve the inclusivity and quality of bottom-up ideas, and allow employee generated innovations to significantly influence the broader strategic direction of the organisation, leading to great successes.”

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