Leader Talk: Interview with Madhavan Satagopan, CTO, Altimetrik


  1. Please tell us about your journey at Altimetrik, Mr Satagopan.

Four years in business now, Altimetrik started off with an aim to render business transformation through technology, for large Enterprise customers. By focusing on Platforms more than Products or Services, Altimetrik is able to bring about rapid acceleration of business outcomes for its end customers. In an increasingly digitzed world, Altimetrik focuses on the three pillars of digital transformation, viz., assets, experiences and processes. Inasmuch, the two key enablers IoT (enables more data generation) and Analytics (which aids visualization techniques) are considered as closely aligned to the digital revolution.

Business transformation in its parlance here, is about delivering Enterprise Capabilities through consumer technologies (not large enterprise systems). From an industry standpoint, the next five years will be about enterprises adapting to technology used by end consumers. The industry verticals currently under focus for Altimetrik are: Fintech, Healthcare (more wellness), Lifestyle (aka consumer facing Retail), Utilities & Telecom which are perhaps among the quickest adapters of this technology-led business transformation.

  1. Your views on talent that is available in India.

Mr. Satagopan is extremely upbeat and has the highest regard for Indian talent. Indian talent is at the forefront of innovation and business leadership across the world, and Altimetrik is no different, he said. For instance, outside of US, India and Uruguay are the largest centres for Altimetrik, focused on product engineering. In the 4th Industrial Revolution that is often touted, Indians certainly have a major role to play in it.  


The talent they sport in India is young by experience and would predominantly fall into the 3 – 6 year range. It is another matter altogether, where technical expertise is concerned, number of years of experience is highly irrelevant. The organisation believes in a lean leadership structure and a healthy pipeline is maintained by investing in people who are within the 0 – 3 year range. In process, the culture is hands-on that provides a full stack exposure to hires.

Talent hiring is also not stereotypical for Altimetrik. Rather than relying on time-tested methods, they significantly focus on hackathons to map the right fit. It isn’t just about people or products alone, but being able to combine people with the accelerators (enablers, as mentioned earlier). A modus operandi that has worked well, and has given Altimetrik a high degree of non-linearity in its productivity curve.

  1. Your views on “software eating the world.”

 The world is driven by innovation both in hardware & software and the two are interconnected. When we say, ‘software is eating the world’ it essentially means a piece of intelligent code that resides in hardware to make it more efficient or make it do things hitherto not done. So essentially software feeds hardware, and the intersection of these is creating newer possibilities for the world.

On the other hand, if the argument is about software replacing humans, then it isn’t true. Or not as it is made out to be. Software is only augmenting human efficiency ( is again beneficial for the world. So, in essence, Software can never eat the world. But it certainly can make it better, and that is what we are seeing around us in terms of Automation, Autonomic Behaviors and creating Human Intelligent Systems. Altimetrik is at the forefront of all of these capabilities.

  1. Please share your thoughts on Bi-Modal IT. How have you leveraged it in your organisation?

How do you transform and efficiently operate at the same time? Bi-Modal is a structured approach to what is otherwise a common-sense transformation rightly operating under Organizational constraint. But here is a clue – something that Altimetrik has used to truly implement Bi-Modal with its customers. The world is often inclined to think in silos. For instance, either we run operations or we bring about change or innovation. The reality is, we cannot function effectively in silos for long. If it’s about innovation, then it as much about execution. This philosophy is always borne in mind when a sound Platform / Product thinking is driven by Altimetrik with its customers even while executing regular projects. That, combined with a full-stack talent mix gives the ability to “assimilate capabilities to transform”, while “running the current world through projects”. Within the organisation, platforms and solution engineering have no restrictive Great Walls. Essentially, they are two sides of the same coin and when KRAs get defined, a crucial element is about teams assisting one other and not remaining mutually exclusive. When customers spend dollars on change, it has to be about execution. That is how Bi-Modal is implemented and the desired change achieved.

  1. On “data being the new oil.”

With IoT, a whole new world of data has been made available. It gets machines to spew more data which can then be leveraged from an engineering and design standpoint. As prices of hardware continue to fall, it has become even cheaper to store it all. But, the important insight to be drawn here is, research shows 87% of data stored by enterprises is useless and it’s only 13% which is useful. However, to get to the 13% we have to be prepared to go after all of it i.e. 100%. It’s the job of data scientists to sift through humongous data and cull out the vital 13%.  

While we have to store all of it somewhere, technologies must help get to this 13% data faster and process them efficiently. This aspect of Data mining, along with focus on simple data correlation, as opposed to complex data analytics, followed by rich data visualization interfaces – broadly, these three form the cornerstone of Altimetrik’s business fundamentals in making data a “fuel” for driving transformation.

  1. On Gen Y

Altimetrik thinks of itself as being an organization that is “led by the Gen Y and guided by the leaders”, as Mr Satagopan likes to articulate.  

Uniqueness that Gen Y brings, may best be captured as:

  • Uninhibited, boundary-less thinking which aids in differentiated thinking
  • They question status quo. The challenge for leaders is being able to manage this approach and not be straight-jacketed in a top-down hierarchical approach

The work culture in Altimetrik propagates this kind of thinking and is able to put up stimulating challenges for the young workforce. They have also been successful in being able to groom managers who enable this kind of thinking all across, and sustain very high motivation levels. Diversity in thinking, more than gender diversity, is one of the major strengths of the company.

  1. Please share your thoughts on the collaborative model of doing business. How has been your experience in working with startups?

They started out by acquiring three startups in areas of Mobility, Cloud and Enterprise Applications. Inorganic growth strategy has worked well, and it has not only been about acquisitions, but also about building partnerships. Mr Satagopan spends a significant amount of time working with startups which are part of the NASSCOM 10k programme, and is always on the lookout for startups which have competencies complementing Altimetrik, so an appropriate fit may be effected.

  1. 3 business pivots, 3 large bets and business mantra?

3 business pivots would be:

  • Digital transformation for clients
  • Connected solutions
  • A strong focus on consumer technologies

3 big bets:

  • Focus on Analytics including User Behavioural Sciences
  • Personalised computing based on user preferences
  • Focus on Human Intelligent Systems, a strong interplay between machines and humans so that the latter can deliver more effectively.

Business Mantras:

  • Talent with the right attitude – high calibre talent, without the right attitude is useless. Talent can also be wasted if there isn’t a definitive purpose
  • Innovate, but with a purpose
  • Simplify technologies … Amplify possibilities …

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