Skip links

Innovation Challenges: Nurturing Ideas, Overcoming Hurdles

Jump To Section

Last week I bought a new Cup and Saucer set for our kitchen. When it arrived, my mom unpacked it, had a look at it for a couple of minutes and then packed it back only to keep it locked in the shelf. I frowned and said, “Ma! Why don’t you just use it? Come on, let’s have some coffee”. She stopped me saying, “No, let’s use them when relatives come home”.

Last week I bought a new Cup and Saucer set for our kitchen. When it arrived, my mom unpacked it, had a look at it for a couple of minutes and then packed it back only to keep it locked in the shelf. I frowned and said, “Ma! Why don’t you just use it? Come on, let’s have some coffee”. She stopped me saying, “No, let’s use them when relatives come home”. My mom is fascinated by showing new stuffs to friends rather than use them for herself. This happens in companies too.

Great ideas are proposed, only to sleep in their own couch and never used. There are two reasons for it, which I’ll be discussing in this blog. But before that, let us have a better understanding of what is innovation.

What is Innovation?

I’m not going to quote some Wikipedia definition here. Let’s talk in a more practical sense. Often engineers confuse between invention and innovation. Invention is some new finding that come out as a result of long research. It’s done mostly by researchers or scientists (Data Scientists please forgive me!).  On the other hand, innovation is finding creative ways to use these inventions to solve business problems. That’s the job of an engineer, at least in this context, software engineers.

Researchers are like weapon designers, who spend a lot of time creating awesome weapons and engineers are like warriors who win wars with those weapons. The better the weapons, easier the winning. Alright, enough of wars. I’ll give a more constructive example, which I have given in my previous article. Let’s take transaction records as an example.

Thousands of years ago clay tablets were used for recording transactions between people. Then, a few hundred years back papers were used, then digital files, databases and recently Blockchain. Historically, the means of solving a problem gets better and innovative as new technologies are invented!

Further, creative thinking is not something that is possible only for the extraordinary. It’s in every one of us, as proved by experts like Robert Greene and Kelly brothers. Greene says creativity is connecting your knowledge and experience with the childlike mental fluidity. Like any other skill, it can be cultivated by practice.

Alright, having understood innovation, here are the two important reasons for an innovative idea to become successful or a failure.

Reason 1: Conducive Environments

Innovation is no more desirable but is becoming essential for any organization. People are the greatest assets and it’s important that companies make use of them effectively, by setting up a conducive environment for them to think creatively. Innovations happen where people can freely think, have the trust that they will be taken seriously, and can get the rightful recognition for their contributions. This has to be enabled systematically.

If there is too much pressure on the day-to-day work or making mistakes are frowned upon, there will not be any incentive for bringing something new. If the proposals are not taken seriously and innovation culture is just symbolic, people will lose their enthusiasm quickly and give up. So, an environment of transparency, trust and encouragement should be weaved in the culture for innovations to thrive.

That being said, Ideas evolve! An idea matures when it’s discussed with people with the right mind-set. Collaboration between teams and with customers is vital in the journey from ideation to implementation of an idea. How often do we trust the team sitting next to us? I have seen in companies where reusable components or ideas are contributed to a central repository, where they get piled up without being used. Developers are seen more comfortable with a framework or library developed by a group of unknown third parties than with something developed within the company by their colleagues.

Indeed, the in-house developed component would probably be built with better context, having the customers in mind. Had both the teams collaborated, a better solution would have been delivered to the customers efficiently. In this case, there is lack of trust and this hampers reusability and efficiency for an organization. It can be addressed by establishing trust and confidence in capabilities among teams.

Reason 2: You and Me

Best artists bring out creative drawings, best directors make creative movies, best stand-up comedians write creative jokes and best engineers provide creative solutions. There is in fact, nothing called “best” engineer. There is no scale to measure. No standard to evaluate. Being best is a continuous process.

When you propose an idea or a solution to a problem, do you ask yourself if you are solving the right problem? Did you even identify the right problem in the first place, by empathizing with the customers? Do you ask the right questions for identifying the right problem? What happens is, either we solve the wrong problem or fit a wrong solution to the right problem. We solve the wrong problem because we didn’t ask the right questions.

It’s like producing a product, which no one is going to buy. We fit a wrong solution because, in most cases we are tempted towards trying a new technology in the market, such as Machine Learning or Blockchain without taking enough time to think through the use case at hand. When ideas are rejected, people get emotional.

It is imperative to objectively assess the reason and improve upon the learnings, ask the right questions and iterate until we identify the right problem and then head towards solving it. There is no shortage of problems to solve and so there is no need of rush. Gartner says 50% of analytics projects fail. Why? Is it because of lack of skills? Not at all. Come on! Our developers are smart with algorithms. Then, what else? Think about it! Customer satisfaction requires something more than just technology!

Picture of Karthikeyan Alagarswamy

Karthikeyan Alagarswamy

Suggested Reading

Ready to Unlock Your Enterprise's Full Potential?

Michael Woodall

Chief Growth Officer of Financial Services

Michael Woodall, as the Chief Growth Officer of Financial Services at Altimetrik, spearheads the identification of new growth avenues and revenue streams within the financial services sector. With a robust background and extensive expertise, Michael brings invaluable insights to his role.

Previously, Michael served as the Chief of Operations and President of the Trust Company at Putnam Investments, where he orchestrated strategic developments and continuous operational enhancements. Leveraging strategic partnerships and data analytics, he revolutionized capabilities across investments, retail and institutional distribution, and client services. Under his leadership, Putnam received numerous accolades, including the DALBAR Mutual Fund Service Award for over 30 consecutive years.

Michael’s dedication to industry evolution is evident through his involvement with prestigious organizations such as the DTCC Senior Wealth Advisory Board, ICI Operations Committee, and NICSA, where he served as Chairman and now holds the position of Director Emeritus. Widely recognized as an industry luminary, Michael frequently shares his expertise with various divisions of the SEC, solidifying his reputation as a seasoned presenter.

At Altimetrik, Michael plays a pivotal role in driving expansion within financial services, leveraging his expertise and Altimetrik’s Digital Business Methodology to ensure clients navigate their digital journey seamlessly, achieving tangible outcomes and exponential growth.

Beyond his corporate roles, Michael serves as Chair of the Boston Water & Sewer Commission, appointed by the Mayor of Boston, and is actively involved in various philanthropic endeavors, including serving on the board of the nonprofit Inspire Arts & Music.

Michael holds a distinguished business degree from Northeastern University, graduating with distinction as a member of the Sigma Epsilon Rho Honor Society.

Anguraj Kumar Arumugam

Chief Digital Business Officer for the U.S. West region

Anguraj is an accomplished business executive with an extensive leadership experience in the services industry and strong background across digital transformation, engineering services, data and analytics, cloud and consulting.

Prior to joining Altimetrik, Anguraj has served in various positions and roles at Globant, GlobalLogic, Wipro and TechMahindra. Over his 25 years career, he has led many strategic and large-scale digital engineering and transformation programs for some of world’s best-known brands. His clients represent a range of industry sectors including Automotive, Technology and Software Platforms. Anguraj has built and guided all-star teams throughout his tenure, bringing together the best of the techno-functional capabilities to address critical client challenges and deliver value.

Anguraj holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Anna University and a master’s degree in software systems from Birla Institute of Technology, Pilani.

In his spare time, he enjoys long walks, hiking, gardening, and listening to music.

Vikas Krishan

Chief Digital Business Officer and Head of the EMEA region

Vikas (Vik) Krishan serves as the Chief Digital Business Officer and Head of the EMEA region for Altimetrik. He is responsible for leading and growing the company’s presence across new and existing client relationships within the region.

Vik is a seasoned executive and brings over 25 years of global experience in Financial Services, Digital, Management Consulting, Pre- and Post-deal services and large/ strategic transformational programmes, gained in a variety of senior global leadership roles at firms such as Globant, HCL, Wipro, Logica and EDS and started his career within Investment Banking. He has developed significant cross industry experience across a wide variety of verticals, with a particular focus on working with and advising the C-Suite of Financial Institutions, Private Equity firms and FinTech’s on strategy and growth, operational excellence, performance improvement and digital adoption.

He has served as the engagement lead on multiple global transactions to enable the orchestration of business, technology, and operational change to drive growth and client retention.

Vik, who is based in London, serves as a trustee for the Burma Star Memorial Fund, is a keen photographer and an avid sportsman.

Megan Farrell Herrmanns

Chief Digital Officer, US Central

Megan is a senior business executive with a passion for empowering customers to reach their highest potential. She has depth and breadth of experience working across large enterprise and commercial customers, and across technical and industry domains. With a track record of driving measurable results, she develops trusted relationships with client executives to drive organizational growth, unlock business value, and internalize the use of digital business as a differentiator.

At Altimetrik, Megan is responsible for expanding client relationships and developing new business opportunities in the US Central region. Her focus is on digital business and utilizing her experience to create high growth opportunities for clients. Moreover, she leads the company’s efforts in cultivating and enhancing our partnership with Salesforce, strategically positioning our business to capitalize on new business opportunities.

Prior to Altimetrik, Megan spent 10 years leading Customer Success at Salesforce, helping customers maximize the value of their investments across their technology stack. Prior to Salesforce, Megan spent over 15 years with Accenture, leading large transformational projects for enterprise customers.

Megan earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Marquette University. Beyond work, Megan enjoys playing sand volleyball, traveling, watching her kids soccer games, and is actively involved in a philanthropy (Advisory Council for Cradles to Crayons).

Adaptive Clinical Trial Designs: Modify trials based on interim results for faster identification of effective drugs.Identify effective drugs faster with data analytics and machine learning algorithms to analyze interim trial results and modify.
Real-World Evidence (RWE) Integration: Supplement trial data with real-world insights for drug effectiveness and safety.Supplement trial data with real-world insights for drug effectiveness and safety.
Biomarker Identification and Validation: Validate biomarkers predicting treatment response for targeted therapies.Utilize bioinformatics and computational biology to validate biomarkers predicting treatment response for targeted therapies.
Collaborative Clinical Research Networks: Establish networks for better patient recruitment and data sharing.Leverage cloud-based platforms and collaborative software to establish networks for better patient recruitment and data sharing.
Master Protocols and Basket Trials: Evaluate multiple drugs in one trial for efficient drug development.Implement electronic data capture systems and digital platforms to efficiently manage and evaluate multiple drugs or drug combinations within a single trial, enabling more streamlined drug development
Remote and Decentralized Trials: Embrace virtual trials for broader patient participation.Embrace telemedicine, virtual monitoring, and digital health tools to conduct remote and decentralized trials, allowing patients to participate from home and reducing the need for frequent in-person visits
Patient-Centric Trials: Design trials with patient needs in mind for better recruitment and retention.Develop patient-centric mobile apps and web portals that provide trial information, virtual support groups, and patient-reported outcome tracking to enhance patient engagement, recruitment, and retention
Regulatory Engagement and Expedited Review Pathways: Engage regulators early for faster approvals.Utilize digital communication tools to engage regulatory agencies early in the drug development process, enabling faster feedback and exploration of expedited review pathways for accelerated approvals
Companion Diagnostics Development: Develop diagnostics for targeted recruitment and personalized treatment.Implement bioinformatics and genomics technologies to develop companion diagnostics that can identify patient subpopulations likely to benefit from the drug, aiding in targeted recruitment and personalized treatment
Data Standardization and Interoperability: Ensure seamless data exchange among research sites.Utilize interoperable electronic health record systems and health data standards to ensure seamless data exchange among different research sites, promoting efficient data aggregation and analysis
Use of AI and Predictive Analytics: Apply AI for drug candidate identification and data analysis.Leverage AI algorithms and predictive analytics to analyze large datasets, identify potential drug candidates, optimize trial designs, and predict treatment outcomes, accelerating the drug development process
R&D Investments: Improve the drug or expand indicationsUtilize computational modelling and simulation techniques to accelerate drug discovery and optimize drug development processes