By The Sterling Report
Anil Pagar, CEO of SpadeWorx, believes in creating customer satisfaction through concern, aptitude, responsiveness and empathy towards customer problems. As a CEO whose objective is to assist his customers in meeting their goals, Anil is an entrepreneur to watch out for. He chats with The Sterling Report about his background, cricket teams and designing innovative software with the end-user in mind.
The Sterling Report (TSR): You have worked at some pretty
major companies including Informatics, IBM and HP. Tell us more about what you
did at these companies.
Anil Pagar (AP): At IBM I was recruited to head the Technology Incubation
Center. Technology Incubation activities encompassed a wide spectrum of highly
technical specialties, activities, and processes. This includes, at its
foundation, applying the general software engineering paradigms to "work
smarter" (through process technology advancements), "work faster" (through
advancements in tools and environments), and "work less" (through architectural
and reuse technology advancements) to provide a technical environment for more
intelligent and efficient application specific engineering. Ultimately provide
intelligent systems capable of integrating information, human-computer
interactions and general-application software engineering functionalities to
meet the real needs of the soldier on the battlefield.
At HP I was recruited to head the Products Engineering Group and resuscitate the
products suite. It had had an upsetting loss of one year’s efforts in retaining
customers and rolling out world class products, resulting in losing customer
confidence and a high number of customer escalations. This meant I was
responsible for bringing the products development culture and new initiatives in
the organization, product vision development, strategic and business planning,
operations efficiency, management reporting system (metrics), and quality
assurance/control processes. I also performed trade-off analysis by challenging
the creativity to expand the solution under consideration; validated
architecture and facilitate deployment; defined and implemented common
architectural subsystems and organized and oversaw code and architecture re-use.
As well, I established and evangelized best practices and raised the bar on all
aspects of engineering; handled multiple platform integration as products had
multiple flavors; and designed and developed a solution called ISHITA
(Integrated Solution for Heterogeneous and Isolated Transacting Applications). I
also ensured BS 15000 Certification for the organization, making it one of the
first in the world.
TSR: How did your time with these companies influence you in your current
AP: Working with these companies has enriched me with experiences to
manage global teams and understand the nuances and approaches the multinational
companies take to address the climatic conditions (adverse or favorable) to make
the most of it for the corporations.
There are many examples of events, situations and incidents those have given me
insights on how multinational companies approach in building up brands and
competencies from ground up. Particularly the product that I was instrumental in
rolling out helped me understand the landscapes in totality with regards to
managing all the stakeholders. From sponsors of the project to consumers of the
product; and the whole eco-system management with regards to government
regulation compliances, country specific compliances, to cultural aspects with
regards to user psyche; while keeping the resources optimally utilized. Needing
to keep the costs low and encompassing maximum value in the solution for the
customers and end-users, without burdening them, i.e. keeping the cost point of
world class products affordable without compromising on features,
functionalities and quality. These learnings have helped me think like end-users
before designing the solutions, and has resulted in building an organization
with niche services focusing on usability and user centered design through our
home-grown proprietary framework and methodology, namely the User Centered
Software Engineering™ (UCSE™).
TSR: Having worked in both the US and India, do you find these
experiences to be an asset in today’s globalized economy?
AP: Having worked in different geographies, it has helped in
understanding the cultural aspects and adapt the best of both the worlds. At
SpadeWorx we could use this to amalgamate the sense of planning and quality of
deliverables with dedication and sincerity to create customer delight.
TSR: Let’s talk specifically about SpadeWorx now. What is the problem
that your company is trying to solve?
AP: Traditionally, software was developed with just two dimensions, the
first being the problem statement defined by the business owners and the second
being software component as a solution with the software engineers’ perception
to resolve the issues with technical solution. However, the third dimension, the
end-users, were mostly ignored. I would like to bring inclusivity of this third
dimension in the software solutions – the software should be developed with
user-centric approaches. My vision for SpadeWorx is to ensure that SpadeWorx is
the global leader in ‘User Centered Software Engineering™.
TSR: Was this the motivation for you to start SpadeWorx?
AP: The primary motivation for me and the other co-founders to start
SpadeWorx was to create a platform for the deserving talent to innovate and
create a niche. We also wanted to generate employment opportunities for the
TSR: Really? How have you created jobs for the underprivileged?
AP: SpadeWorx has consciously and strategically opened a development
center in rural India (class II town) where fresh graduates with limited
knowledge are recruited and trained to become skilled resources to be deployed
on customer engagements after a period of 9 months. Also employment
opportunities for those who have language problems are trained to work in
conjunction with more skilled subject matter experts who have the experiences of
interacting and managing international customers. This helps in churning
innovation and grooming the next level of talent pool.
TSR: Speaking of innovation, SpadeWorx developed a very innovative
product for the Indian Cricket League. Can you tell us more about this?
AP: This solution was rendered to the company, which designed and
promoted the League. The Indian Cricket League had eight teams that competed
amongst each other. The solution was not to manage the teams alone, but also to
broadcast the matches on the Internet (first of its kind) using Microsoft’s
SilverLight technology. The solution helped build communities of fans of the
teams and broadcast the matches with multiple video streams at the same time.
Multi-camera visions, the controls were rendered to the end-users as compared to
the controls of the score cards and/or replays being with the broadcasters. The
solution had the capabilities to allow the viewers to view any part of the match
at any time at their will. They could pull-up a wagon-wheel and/or scorecards or
specific event of the match at their own will. The viewers could also form
communities and forums around an event in the match and compare it real-time
with any past events of the same match or anything from the archives. The event
managers and broadcasters could run a contest on-the-go depending on the turn of
events in the match.
TSR: That is a pretty cool solution! What other projects are currently
being worked on?
AP: SpadeWorx has made investments in ‘Solution Incubation Group’ where
engineers are goaled to incubate solutions. One such interesting project is
‘Accelerated Services Kit (ASK™)’. ASK™ allows the CIOs of enterprises to
implement solutions developed in emerging technologies in controlled environment
with predefined throughput as measurement criteria. Instead of investing huge
amounts in licenses of the software to experiment, ASK™ helps in getting the
same benefits of full-fledged solutions and adjudge the fitment of the
technologies for an enterprise at fraction of the cost. Another interesting
project at SpadeWorx is pOwered Rich Media User eXperience (ORMUX™), a platform
which allows content owners to monetize and render video content in
contextually. Our Rich Interactive Intranets and Business applications take the
cake. These solutions increase the productivity of the end-users up to 60% and
help e-commerce sites to experience higher conversion rates.
TSR: With products like these, it’s not surprising that you have earned
several awards for your products. Do you have an innovation process?
AP: At SpadeWorx, the Solutions Incubation Group identifies the areas of
interest to our customers and start working on incubating solutions in emerging
technologies and general problem areas. While incubating solutions, all the
artifacts are published on Knowledge Management Portal; we encourage our
employees to park ideas, which are debated and presented in company events, such
as Innovation Fest.
TSR: Has this been your secret to successfully competing against the
larger, established software giants?
AP: We at SpadeWorx contiguously innovate to create distinct winning
value proposition for our customers, creating customer delight through our
concern, aptitude, responsiveness and empathy towards their problems.
TSR: Let’s talk business strategy now. With the US markets still
under-performing, do you have plans to increase the company’s focus on Asian
AP: The US markets are slowly reviving and SpadeWorx would continue to
assist US corporations to smart-invest in their IT and Software Product
Development spends for higher returns on investments. SpadeWorx has strategic
approach to Asian Markets. Hence, besides having our offices in India, we have
opened our office in Singapore as well.
TSR: How do you see the Asian software industry progressing over the next
AP: The Asian markets are seeing diametric change in usage of software to
propel business growths. Asian markets, particularly with India and China
adapting more localized software solutions to manage businesses, would need a
lot of user involvement, learning lessons from the west. Asian markets are more
open towards user inclusivity in software development, hence greater degree of
adaptation of software solutions. And the spends by enterprises in software are
growing almost 250 – 300% annually.
TSR: Changing gears, your educational background is in Computer
Engineering. Do you feel that people from technology backgrounds make better
CEOs of software companies?
AP: Businesses need engineering and commercial acumen. The advantage that
engineering CEOs have is the basic understanding of the technical landscape.
Combine this with common sense, judgment, people skills, presentation skills and
the likes, once the technology background CEOs have found out what they do best
and keep doing it over and over again, then they are definitely anybody’s choice
for the post at a software company.
TSR: As an entrepreneur, how important is it to be able ‘to predict the
future’ in terms of market and company offerings in order to ensure the success
of your company?
AP: It is very important to keep abreast with the developments. As an
entrepreneur, you need to foresee business demands well in advance while
innovating and incubating newer solutions, frameworks and business models to
fulfill the market demands and become business climate proof to be successful.
TSR: Are there other qualities that you feel a successful entrepreneur
AP: Humility, self-effacing, diligent and resolute.
TSR: What do you like most and least about being a CEO?
AP: The best part of being a CEO is that I am able to create a charter to
assist our customers meeting their goals and objectives in their business - it
helps us touch more lives than ever before. I am also able give a platform to
deserving talent. There is yet anything that I have to discover that I have not
liked being a CEO.
TSR: How do you maintain a balance between your professional and personal
AP: Not carrying work at home or home at work… giving 100% time, energy
and attention when at work or at home is one way that I am able to balance out
the professional and personal life.
Anil Pagar is Founder, Managing Director and CEO of SpadeWorx
Software Services. With his knowledge of product and technology development, he
has been instrumental in churning several middleware and backend products
currently implemented at several Fortune 500 companies. Anil began his career in
1989 with stints at Informatics, IBM and Hewlett Packard. In his career, he has
had an exceptional track record of establishing flourishing business units from
ground up. Anil has a strong technology foresight with the capability to flex
technology to suit business demands and usage. He has received several awards
and accolades for his innovative product ideas and IP disclosures. Anil has
presented his papers and views on varied topics in industry consortiums and
seminars globally and has been a guest lecturer at renowned engineering
colleges. For interview feedback, please contact Anil at