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What I Am Passionate About

Managing Expectations
Product
Sharing The Vision

31 August, 2021

Imtiaz Bellary
Imtiaz Bellary

VP of Product Management at Engati

Imtiaz Bellary, Head of Product & Customer Management at Engati, shares how he finds motivation in dealing with complex and almost impossible-to-solve problems.

Problem

I was someone who was always driven by pertinent challenges. I love to deep dive into problems that many tried solving in the past and study their success or failure stories. The complexity of a problem and a low probability of solving it boosts my motivation like nothing else. A few years ago, we encountered such a problem in the programming intelligence space, and I was eager to roll up my sleeves and meet the challenge.

Actions taken

One such problem that I sweated over I encountered in the programming intelligence space. Any business tries to identify and reach out to the right prospects. In today's world, most prospects interact with businesses over social media. The idea I had -- and many others before me -- was to collect various intelligence coming from interaction on social media and, more broadly, the Internet. The challenge was that the area we were trying to cover was incredibly vast and dynamic. For example, if someone has an e-commerce store, people’s inputs may come from their Facebook page, Instagram, Google search, or targeted email campaigns. One of the first things I had to do was understand where prospects were coming from, which of those channels had the highest conversion rate, and how people were interacting with that brand.

I looked at what other people tried to do in the past, looking both at success and failure stories. We tried to take a different approach to solve a problem using a different set of technologies. After learning about past experiences, we knew that following the more traditional approach others were using was not going to yield any results. But, we didn’t stop there: we studied different models outside of that domain. I deep-dived into other domains investigating similar problems and learning how people approached solving those. In the end, we decided to replicate a model from another domain, but it required a significant investment, and our budget constraints didn’t allow us to go further with it.

There were other things apart from finances that impeded our progress. We needed people with the right mindset. As I have said, I am driven by challenges; the more difficult, the better. However, not everyone is motivated by working on an almost impossible-to-solve challenge. The thing with complicated problems is that you have to believe you can solve them. If that is not the case, you can find thousands of excuses to say that something is not working. Also, it’s not enough that you alone have the passion and energy to work on it, but you need to build a team that shares your passion and energy. Those problems ask for everyone to give their best in their clear-cut roles.

Lessons learned

  • We were only partially successful, but I was enormously excited by the challenge itself. It was not solved -- to the best of my knowledge -- in the past. Multiple people were on it, and we were not the only ones trying to solve it. I was inspired by past failures as much as was by success stories.
  • We focused all our efforts on solving the problem, but there were other factors that we disregarded. Finances and the right people proved to be as equally important as coming up with an innovative approach, and we started to pay attention to those too late.
  • Look for similarities. Look for examples where you can draw inspiration from. It may not be in the same domain, but it could be the same in terms of how problems are framed or presented. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

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