REBA Innovation day - an overview

Gethin Nadin


On 22nd November, Benefex attended the 2nd REBA Innovation Day at the wonderful St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel. This time around, we focused on how technology is driving change in reward. As always it was great to re-connect with so many reward and HR professionals, as well as meet new ones. 

“If it ain’t broke, consider breaking it”

The first and stand-out talk came from author Rasmus Ankersen. Although his ideas weren’t hugely new (his work reminded me of Malcom Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’), Rasmus gave us an exciting story of how he had studied the sporting world to see how it develops talent for performance. After travelling the world and spending time with athletes, Rasmus found some surprising reasons behind their talent. The ‘gold mines’ he studied are soccer in Brazil, Ethiopian and Kenyan running, Russian tennis stars, South Korean golfers and Jamaican sprinters.

Without going into the full presentation, he essentially discovered certain conditions around the world that enabled these talented few to excel at what they did. He looked at how these athletes managed to rack up the magic 10,000 hours needed to become an expert at anything. He noticed that as children in Ethiopia, Jamaica and Kenya were running frequently from a very early age (as they had few other options in getting from A to B), they could clock up ‘practice’ much more quickly than children in other parts of the world.

How this translates to business appears to be subjective, but for me it’s clear that identifying the conditions that create talent is very important. 


REBA co-founder Debi O’Donovan looked towards the future with focus on FinTech. Debbie’s prediction: FinTech is about to have its ‘Napster Moment’. Just as record companies in the early 2000s had to deal with the digitisation of music, courtesy of websites like Napster, many banks and financial institutions are now facing a similar situation as technology drives the change for the finance industry.

Artificial Intelligence

Another topic of the day was Artificial Intelligence. We are now living with many forms of AI in our everyday lives thanks to Amazon’s Echo device, auto correct technology and Siri on the iPhone. The speakers and guests reflected on how AI could be used to make choices or help employees with their understanding of different benefits. It’s also worth noting that, while many embrace these kinds of developments in technology, it’s clear that people still want the ‘human touch’ – especially when the technology goes wrong.

Making the most of what currently exists

As the day focused on the future of technology, there was a reticence from clients to move forward to new technology without first ensuring they have maximised the opportunities of existing technology. It’s clear that as providers continue to develop and move forwards, many clients (especially those in the public sector) are still struggling to implement old technology. However, everyone agreed that employees need to be able to use the same level of technology in the workplace as at home.

In a live poll, REBA asked all attendees: “Would your organisation be more productive if staff had better technology?” – the response, a resounding, 100% “yes!”

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