Altimetrik CTO: Executives need to understand consumer to create collaborative business models
In the reception area of the Altimetrik office in Bengaluru, the white walls are filled with elements that change their clients’ business processes in the era of the millennial consumer. Every new technology, from connected vehicles to payment methods in the mobile era, is neatly listed out, and these ideas are the foundation on which Altimetrik works with its customers. The key word they use here, 'behaviour' is a major part of Altimetrik's storytelling process for corporates. It is enabling digital transformation by studying how consumers will use smart devices to transact with enterprises. YourStory caught up with Madhavan Satagopan, the CTO of Altimetrik, about the future of creating a digital ecosystem.
YS: How is the future shaping up and how are corporates thinking?
MS: The way things are moving, brand monopoly is a thing of the past. Companies have to collaborate with several stakeholders in the business ecosystem. This change is happening in every industry. Connecting the dots is the key in the end — look at the partnerships that are happening with chip-makers, network companies and equipment manufacturers. New-generation networks are going to be powerful, and organisations have to quickly move to using these platforms to connect with their vendors and customers.
YS: You need people to build these technologies. How are you training your organisation to prepare for this digital future?
MS: We look at it from the eyes of consumer behaviour and the impact that these new technologies have on the entire business and consumption chain. If you take the internet of things (IoT) example, it means nothing if you do not build it around themes like smart agriculture and smart energy and financial technology. We are working with colleges in Bangalore and a couple of small towns in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. We are looking at making students use Altimetrik's platforms to build drones that can help productivity in agriculture. These students are picked to build projects and they will be assigned mentors from our company. The objective is not to just do a corporate-sponsored programme, but to make sure that some of these ideas become companies. These kids can create businesses that can use networks to change their ecosystem in towns and villages. Everyone is talking about automation. But these engineers can create solutions for the ecosystem that they come from. Look at M-Pesa in Africa — it was a financial technology innovation that was inclusive of people. We are going to drive this to make people employable and build solutions, rather than make them look at IT as a job.
YS: Do you see engineering as an art?
MS: It is an art because you are creating a platform that changes lives because of its application in life. Design thinking is about functionality and not about coding. The context, the demographics and the need should be studied before one goes and implements a project. It requires a lot of study. In the old days, there was a disconnect between enterprises and (their) customers. Today, technology has bridged that gap and has made consumers more powerful than before. So the engineer creates a platform that allows enterprises and consumers to transact seamlessly. Look at how banking is now a touch away. Digital is all about understanding how to reduce the steps taken to engage a customer in a transaction. It is about observing how people use workflows and how the workflow with no complication can win customers. Today everyone looks at transformation as a cost, and that is a problem. This is a fundamental problem because CTOs in organisations do not want to risk new technologies. However, those with open minds will seek to study and deploy such technologies.
YS: What advice do you have for corporations that deal with startups?
MS: Don't be judgemental. If a startup does not know, do tell them how to go about it rather than telling them that they are not going to get anywhere. It is important to give them a platform to learn, and the corporate must not become overbearing with their ideas. There has to be learning from both sides. There are many CIOs and CTOs who are overburdened by technology sales. But if they can understand what is changing consumer behaviour, then they can figure out what technology can fit in to change their processes. Today, there is a need for a trusted advice model rather than a sales model from IT services companies and Altimetrik is focusing on the former in digital transformation.