The second foundation of Kyriakidis’s message was his observation that if you task half a dozen innovative individuals with solving a problem, they’ll develop half a dozen unique solutions.
And if enterprises want to adapt to what he and others call “the fourth industrial revolution” – that is, today’s burgeoning digital age – they need to embrace the multiple perspectives behind those distinctive solutions.
Drawing on what he called his “physics geek roots,” Kyriakidis used science to explain his point: When particles collide, they break apart, but on a macro level combine with other particles to form new matter.
“When you have transformation what you have is collision,” he said. “I see it happen over and over again in companies, and especially truly innovative companies. When they shake things up, they don’t fire people and bring in new blood… they take a big pot and mix everything together to see what happens, and then give them a mission to solve a particular problem.”
In fact, equally important to building a multi-disciplinary team is defining the challenge that team is trying to solve and giving them a specific goal, Kyriakidis said.
“You need to seed a team with diverse talent from different backgrounds,” he told ITBusiness.ca, “but if you don’t give them a clear mission, with clearly defined challenges and an end goal, they’re not any more likely to solve the problem.”
IT: A poster child for the multi-disciplinary approach
Fortunately, Kyriakidis said that from what he observes the IT sector is currently following this approach. But he cautioned practitioners not to rest on their laurels, since like any other sector IT itself is gradually transforming, driven by two contradictory impulses: The general public’s distaste for technology, and their expectation that it will solve their problems.
This, he said, is why the most effective solutions are often all-encompassing, accommodating Luddite innovators who distrust technology and want to learn about as few platforms as possible, while also being infinitely customizable (think Facebook for social media, G-Suite or Microsoft Office for productivity, or Salesforce for, well, sales).
“[People] want just one single solution – one deployment they don’t have to worry about that does one thing and does it well,” he said. “But they also want it to do 25 other completely different and customizable things as well.”
Kyriakidis presented three examples of technology-based companies that he feels embody this bifurcated approach to problem-solving, including his own, which offers clients (most of whom are in the aerospace, automotive, or biotech industries) rigorous early-stage analysis of projects and products; Resson, which digitally transforms crop farming with data (and employs farmers itself to ensure its solutions are effective); and Kinduct Technologies, which uses data collection and analysis to help coaches optimize athletic performance.
Speaking again from experience, Kyriakidis said his own company’s services essentially save clients money at the planning stage by ensuring designs are error-free before they’re built – which happens less often than you’d think.
“It’s typical, if you look at all projects that try to develop something brand new, for companies to spend 40 per cent on top of their budget,” Kyriakidis said. By following his own advice, through methods such as blueprint and design analysis, QRA has been able to save its clients a significant (but unrevealed) percentage of their development budgets.
That success, he said, can be directly attributed to QRA’s team including mathematicians and physicists in addition to IT workers and software developers.