Less is More : Remove redundancy and focus on what matters the most for users. In other words, reduce complexity and keep it simple.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Arun Jain, Chairman and Managing Director of Intellect Design Arena.

Arun commenced his entrepreneurial journey by setting up Nucleus Software in 1986. In 1993, he founded Polaris Software Lab, which recorded a CAGR of over 100% during a seven year period 1993–2000. This path of deep domain expertise, vision and planning began in 1993, with just $250 and a dream. His journey was guided by two strong beliefs — (1) ordinary people coming together to achieve extraordinary results (2) the power of the organizational subconscious in realizing the vision. Intellect Design Arena Limited is his third venture, in pursuit of his vision to make India the IP Capital towards the next growth wave for the IT Industry. Arun’s passion to create a technology product powerhouse from India made Intellect a reality. As an evangelist of Design Thinking, his brainchild — FinTech 8012, the World’s First Design Center at Chennai dedicated to Financial Technology came into being.

Arun has been nominated as the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of Indian Institute of Information Technology Ranchi, Jharkhand, India by Hon’ble President of India. He is entrusted with the responsibility of the Chief Mentor of the FinTech Centre of Excellence at STPI, Chennai setup by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Govt. of India in association with the ELCOT, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. He holds/ has held prestigious positions in various other forums like National Software Product Mission (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology), National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT), Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Madras Management Association (MMA), and the Indo American Chamber of Commerce (IACC).

A social engineer by nature, Arun has been working towards creating a better community. Ullas Trust, founded in 1997, with the purpose of igniting young minds and guiding them to realizing their dreams, has since reached out to over 2,60,000 children from the economically challenged sections of Government, Municipal and Aided Schools. This brainchild of Arun provides vital professional skills to adolescent children across the country nurturing the “Can Do” spirit among the young minds.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I am an engineering graduate from Delhi School of Engineering in 1983. Soon after in 1986 I started Nucleus Software (a provider of lending and transaction banking products to the global financial services industry) with two other partners Yogesh Andlay and Visnu Dusad. In 1993, I moved to Chennai and founded Polaris Software. Polaris Software went on to become a very successful company in the banking technology sector. In 1999, the company became a public listed company and had more than 12000 strong workforce with presence in more than 25 countries.

In 2014, Intellect Design Arena was born out of the demerger of Polaris. The purpose of Intellect Design is to help global financial institutions with state-of-art technologies and products. At the same time, I am also leading Mission Samriddhi (means prosperity), a social enterprise striving towards empowering rural India in solving their problems through design thinking.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Intellect is a cloud-native, multi-product financial technology company that believes in solving complex problems to revolutionize the financial industry through the use of exponential technologies. Our core speciality lies in using design thinking to tap into the potential to solve challenges in the financial industry. All our products are composable, contextual and leverage modern technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics, delivered through APIs and an omnichannel UX. All our products and offerings are driven by our strong research and development. Our strong dedication to research and development combined with our extensive use of design thinking to drive transformation has empowered us to design for the future of the financial industry.

To sum it up, our work is based on four exponential technologies:

  • Technology#1 : IDX — The intelligent Document extraction and Fabric data services for Machine learning.
  • Technology#2 : iTurmeric — The complete API Management, Integration and Orchestration for modernizing Legacy and moving to Cloud infrastructure.
  • Technology#3 : Contextual Banking Operating system (CBOS) — We built over 400 microservices and 900+ APIs in a common sandbox which helps Banks to design their product around Customer personas in a Composable manner.
  • Technology#4 : Canvas Technology to design and build with Zero code the Customer experience layer for Interaction and Analytics together.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

As with any growth journey, we have committed our fair share of mistakes. I strongly believe that the act of committing a mistake can be excused, however choosing to not learn from that mistake cannot be excused. A deep sense of humility is what ensures that we convert those mistakes into business wisdom and apply them to ensure that we stay ahead of the curve.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I come from a very humble background. I studied in a government school. In India, mostly students coming from government schools are a bit low in confidence. I was no exception. I was fortunate to have my first mentor Mr. Shailendra Jain. He guided me through my schooling to my professional journey. He taught me the value of self — belief and helped me in believing in myself.

My second mentor was Prasad Kaipa, famous executive coach, CEO advisor and public speaker. He helped me realize that the ego is one of the biggest pitfalls in a successful professional journey. He helped me to let go of my ego, which helped me a lot during the first decade of my career.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

There can be a long debate on what exactly disruption is and when it is right or wrong. These responses can be highly subjective. However, in business any disruption done where a better customer experience is the focus, that disruption is good or right disruption. For example, the banking industry, where all the disruptions make life easier for banking customers. At the same time, the healthcare sector with new technology fueled innovations are helping patients to get better faster through better diagnostics and treatments. On the other hand, any disruption focussed on expertise that does not add to the final customer experience is a ‘wrong disruption’.

Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

I am a staunch believer in Design Thinking. According to design thinking, asking an appropriate question is more important than getting to a solution. The foundation of design thinking lies in empathy with the customers. Design Thinking is in the DNA of Intellect Design. We believe that good design is at the heart of better business. Design Thinking allows us to connect Business, Technology and Operations of a bank uniquely and engineer solutions that drive unprecedented value, making it a joyous collaborative experience.

I feel that the laws of design thinking are the best advice that I have received:

  • Less is More : Remove redundancy and focus on what matters the most for users. In other words, reduce complexity and keep it simple.
  • ‘Last 2% is 200%’ : Empathize with the user. Be alert to understand unstated requirements to provide differential service(s). Fulfillment of unstated needs creates the wow factor. Differentiate from the market: the 2% differential will make more than the cut.
  • Apply judgment between 1000gm, 100gm and 10 gm — Identify the best idea (1000gm) that is 10X more effective than the second best idea (100gm) and 100X more effective than the third best idea (10gm). Understand why it is important to rate exponentially and not linearly.
  • Slow is fast — To succeed in business, it’s important to figure out where you’re going before stepping on the accelerator. Take the time to understand the problem, including the skills and knowledge you lack, before executing.
  • ‘Can do it’ : I do not think I need to explain this. A positive attitude is a non negotiable. Positive attitude helps you to think more about the solutions rather than problems.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

You are absolutely right. Stagnation can be the biggest enemy of creativity and progress. We need to keep on re-inventing ourselves in order to remain relevant in the changing world. On the business front, we are working towards moving Intellect Design from product to platform company. This transition will help us to gain a significant market share at the global level.

Mission Samridhi is very close to my heart. We are applying design thinking to design an integrated framework for rural development. This piece will revolve around personal development at panchayat level — panchayat is the local government system in India. It is the smallest unit in the large Indian democratic system. Panchayat is a group of five people chosen by a village to govern. Any meaningful change in the Indian villages can be brought through these panchayats only. We are working closely with some of these panchayats on social, economic and ecological development. We work on the simple principle of celebrate, connect and catalysis. As a next step, we are trying to help ‘last mile’ customers through design thinking, science and technology.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I have a very strong affinity towards books. I have read many books on various subjects pertaining to business, design thinking and human behaviour. If I have to pick one book that has impacted my life, that will be Presence by Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers. The book explored the nature of transformational change. It introduces the idea of “presence” — a concept borrowed from the natural world that the whole is entirely present in any of its parts — to the worlds of business, education, government, and leadership. This book helped me in understanding human purpose and transformation. Human Transformation leads to organization transformation which is responsible for disruptive technologies.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I am an admirer of Walt Disney. The way he changed the world with his stories and storytelling needs no words. Walt Disney has said that “If You can Dream it, You can do it”. The quote encourages me to dream big and then to work to achieve them. My work with Mission Samridhi is something like that only, where I have dreamt of development in all the Indian villages. The other quote which is very close to my heart is “Love, allowing the other to be a legitimate other”. This quote has helped me understand the humans with empathy for which compassion is critical.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

You are absolutely right about the power of a simple idea. “We have no idea of our (human) capacity to create the world anew.” — I believe in these words. I have always put great faith in people and their capability to ideate. Mission Samridhi, Intellect Design all were born out of an idea. If I could inspire one movement, that would be to urge people to feel and think with compassion and empathy. If we start thinking of solutions with empathy, all the decisions whether professional, personal or business related, will lead to a better world with lesser problems.

Source: Authority Magazine