Thirty or forty years ago, modernizing a company meant computerizing it. Ten or twenty years ago, that meant getting on the internet. Now it means integrating cloud computing, big data, analytics, mobile computing, and other buzzword-worthy practices. However, most businesses don’t have internal employees who can make full use of these innovations, and that’s where Altimetrik comes in.
Altimetrik is an enterprise software development company that specializes in user experience design. Earlier this month the company opened an “innovation lab” in Carnegie Center, where clients can meet with Altimetrik engineers to kick ideas around and test them out in simulations.
Altimetrik calls its service “digital transformation,” which covers both technological and cultural change that goes along with adapting business practices to modern technology.
Headquartered in Southfield, Michigan, the company has about 1,800 employees in New York, Bangalore and Chennai, India, and Montevideo, Uruguay; eight of whom work at the Carnegie Center lab. The company was founded by Raj B. Vattikuti and is still owned by his company, Vattikuti Ventures, together with several other high-tech enterprises. The CEO of Altimetrik is Tim Manney.
The transformation lab at Carnegie Center is led by Suresh Nair, chief transformation officer, who first encountered Altimetrik in his previous job at Bank of America, where he was head of enterprise architecture. He worked with Altimetrik to update the bank’s user experience. “I realized the need for transformation exists throughout industry,” he says. “Everyone is facing the same problem, and that really intrigued me. We work with automotive companies, with pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, and they are all going through the same exact things.”
Ryan Talbott, chief relationships officer at the transformation lab, knows about the automotive industry’s challenges firsthand, since he was previously CIO at Chrysler. “We all went through transformation,” he says. “But there is a gap in the industry, and that is what Altimetrik does.”
The lab looks a little like a conventional office, but with a tech industry vibe and dress code (T-shirts and jeans) that is unique in the more buttoned-down Carnegie Center. The various offices and meeting rooms in the lab are named after Princeton locations (Chambers Street and so on.) Nair hopes the lab can become part of the Princeton business community and plans to host workshops for area businesspeople.
The centerpiece of the lab is a wall of nine flatscreen monitors arranged in a square, which functions as one giant display. The screen faces a bank of seats and desks.
“We want to create the type of environment to think in an unrestrained manner,” Nair says.
It is in the main room where teams from client companies can work with Altimetrik staff to redesign their company’s processes. Nair says one of the first orders of business is to simulate the company’s current working environment on a computer in the lab. Using that model as a starting point, teams can redesign the way things work until they have achieved “digital transformation.”
If nailing down the exact nature of the transformation is difficult, that’s because the process takes different forms with different clients. Sometimes it means creating a mobile app for customers or employees, or moving information and functions onto the cloud from local computers. Other ideas are more exotic: in a small office at the transformation lab, there is an array of quadcopter drones. They are for a client that wants to use them to take inventory at its warehouses.
Talbott says Altimetrik helps companies change much faster than they could with their own internal resources.
“The digital world is requiring companies to have new business models and identify new revenue streams and change the way they interact with customers due to mobility, the cloud, social analytics, the Internet of Things, and all the things that make up digital,” Talbott says.
One reason that large corporations are hiring outside companies like Altimetrik is that the pace of technological change has accelerated dramatically compared to the past, and companies have to adapt just as fast. For example, Talbott says, television and radio took decades after their inventions to reach their first million users. Today new platforms hit that milestone in months. “Traditional companies have to go through massive change,” he says.
For an example of a company that failed to achieve digital transformation, look no further than Blockbuster Video, which realized too late that its DVD-rental business was doomed by streaming services. The company even turned down an offer in 2000 to buy Netflix for a bargain $50 million.
“While in most industries, the aftermath of digitization was not that drastic, it affects everyone,” Nair says. “We work across industries to help everyone go on that journey.”
Nair grew up in India, where his father worked for the government. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in India, and moved to the U.S. in the early 1990s and worked in the financial services sector. He was with Bank of America from 1999 until 2013.
Talbott, the son of sales representative parents, grew up in the Chicago suburbs and has a bachelor’s from the University of Illinois and Urbana-CHampaign and an MBA from Michigan State. After college he founded his own IT consulting company, Avagon Corporation, and later joined Fiat Chrysler, where he rose to be a regional head of IT.
Altimetrik doesn’t like to name its clients, but says it works with Fortune 10 and Fortune 50 companies. One reason for establishing a presence in Princeton was to be close to potential clients; and another was to be in the midst of the “culture of innovation” and the expertise available at Princeton and Rutgers universities.
“In the digital world, you have to operate with speed and agility,” Talbott says.
Altimetrik 300 Carnegie Center, Suite 110, Princeton 08540. Suresh Nair, chief transformation officer. 609-955-3585. www.altimetrik.com.