‘Great innovation must be market facing’

Here’s how CA Technologies fosters innovation at its India Technology Centre to create products for global consumption.

Photo Credit : CA Technologies,

Surya Panditi, General Manager, R&D Centers, CA Technologies, India

To encourage innovation and accelerate product development at its R&D Centres in Hyderabad and Bengaluru, CA Technologies devised four Excellence forums. It also offers the CA Accelerator and CA Garage. 

BW CIO interviewed Surya Panditi, General Manager, R&D Centers, CA Technologies, India over telepresence, to ask him about these programs. 

Surya is an experienced technologist, business leader and team builder. He has more than 30 years of experience driving business growth and profitability, inspirational leadership, entrepreneurial risk-taking, customer engagements, product development and thought leadership.
Some of the global innovations that actually became products are Project Jarvis (advanced analytics) and 3DS (for online credit card authentication).

Excerpts from the interview:

BW: What are the cutting edge innovations and products that your teams produced at the global R&D centres in Hyderabad and Bengaluru?

Surya: It’s great to work on new things but eventually it is about what impact these have on the market. For instance, we worked on 3DS (3 domain secure) technology (for card not present transactions). The three domains being the issuer, the bank and the merchant. You might recall “Verified by VISA” – and those were some of the technologies that we were very involved in the early stages. 

The industry is now working on 3DS 2.0, the next revision, and a lot of that innovation was driven out of India for CA Technologies. Our payment security team is based in Bengaluru and does a lot of this work. 

It’s not just innovation, it is also market facing. 

BW: What are the initiatives you have taken to drive and encourage innovation in your team or the community?
Surya: One of the things we have done is to create an Innovation forum – to help people to capture their ideas, ensure that they have solid partnerships with people who can bring market context, introduce them to some customers, and help them prepare the business case – so that they come forward with the full package. 

We recently did a hackathon and 50 teams showed up. We got some more market facing capabilities put of their ideas. So we used the Innovation Forum as a way to extend their reach.

This was in the areas of machine learning and AI. The teams came up with some cool ideas and solutions in that space. 

BW: And what is the CA Accelerator program?

Surya: The CA Accelerator is a formal way of taking these ideas and putting them through this process. It really is a way for us to build that entire package, with a complete view of the customer, the pain point, the competitive differentiation, the opportunity in the market place, the timeline, required investment – all of those other elements in addition to an engineer just having a good idea. 

BW: Can you tell us how you innovate to keep up with all the cutting edge technologies that are coming in?

Surya: There are three parts to innovation. One is the technology pieces. The second one is the linkages to a set of products and capabilities. The third is linkage to customers and market. 

On technology pieces we are doing a couple of things: one is, we tap into our global resources. Across CA we have a good inventory of capabilities for AI, machine learning, cognitive technologies etc.

For the product piece, the team in India is working with the project managers, and with the senior VPs, to get the product linkages.
They are also identifying customers who could be involved at an early stage in some of the development processes. 

BW: What is CA Garage all about?

Surya: We have a bunch of technologies and allow our people to do their own projects on their own time. We have technologies such as Raspberry Pi, Alexa, and drones all available to any employee. We are doing this in both, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
Someone programmed Raspberry PI for monitoring the moisture level in the soil. So farmers can monitor this on their mobile phone, when they are away. And they can turn the water sprinklers on or off based on the moisture level. He showed that this could be done at a very low cost of a few hundred rupees per probe.  

So people create something that they want to show. Sometimes it is quite far removed from what we are doing and sometimes it is in our space. It gets people to think outside the box. 

And it doesn’t matter if that innovation is not going to become a product.

Any employee can access the garage and they can run it on extended hours, at home.

BW: How do you foster innovation through the Excellence Forums?

Surya: We felt that people need to have a place where they can share ideas and best practices – and learn from each other. So we created four excellence forums: The Innovation forum, Architecture forum, Product Management forum and the Design forum.

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