Over the course of our Future Says series’ two seasons, brilliant guests have highlighted the whirlwind of new technologies, business models, cultural phenomena, and human values that are shaping the world around us. Experts from diverse fields of industry and commerce, from international organizations like Google, PWC, King, and more, have shared insights on the compelling opportunities and profound challenges that are cropping up around the world every day, and they’ve also offered thought-provoking predictions regarding what they think the future has in store.
Amidst this wealth of fresh ideas and original thinking, some powerful themes have emerged. The convergence of simulation, high-performance computing (HPC), and artificial intelligence (AI); the critical role of diversity, respect, and kindness in the workplace; the need to deliver measurable results; sustainability; and more. Above all, our guests have made it clear that we must apply AI, ML, and simulation technologies fairly, ethically, and equitably.
To conclude Season two, host Sean Lang spoke to Jim Scapa, founder and CEO of Altair. During their wide-ranging conversation, it’s apparent that many of the principles prior guests have touched on throughout the season have been part of Altair’s DNA since it was formed more than 36 years ago.
As Scapa explains, Altair started as a small, simulation-based company that focused exclusively on automotive clients in the U.S. However, the company realized the significance of data and HPC early on, including the subsequent requirement for effective workload scheduling. As the company grew, attending the annual Supercomputing conferences drew Scapa’s attention to the fact that the best and brightest in the field were looking to combine the technologies Altair was already embracing – in other words, they wanted convergence. Today, the term is still gathering momentum and the philosophy is central to the company’s mission.
“Bringing all of that together, enabled by HPC, is the future that we envision and that we think is becoming really explosive,” Scapa says. Moreover, for all the current excitement surrounding digital twin, Scapa notes that Altair has been making it a reality since the company’s earliest days.
Despite its impressive record for identifying and harnessing the technology zeitgeist, Altair’s journey is defined more by evolution than revolution. Its customer base now extends well beyond manufacturing to include banking, financial services, life sciences, and government agencies, to name a few.
Scapa thinks Altair’s learning culture and its commitment to workforce diversity has anchored its success; he believes he developed these values himself as the son of first-generation European immigrants and as the father of four daughters who share a talent for math and science. However, like other Future Says guests, he understands prioritizing diversity and inclusion isn’t just a moral imperative – it’s a vital business decision, too. Altair’s human values are reflected in the company’s pandemic response and its approach to business acquisitions. “When we acquire a company, we wrap our arms around the people and we hug them. We don’t want to put our thumbs on them and dominate them,” Scapa says.
Taking all these aspects together – the company’s culture, the technologies it’s absorbed, and the way the world’s heading – Scapa sees a tremendous future ahead for Altair. “We’re at the beginning of a new wave, and it’s very exciting.”
And as a fitting conclusion to Future Says, Scapa is thinking beyond the bottom line. He knows how important it is that the future’s most powerful technologies are applied fairly and justly. But most importantly, he believes Altair can act as a responsible, positive global organization while reaping the benefits of successful, savvy business decisions. In his eyes, business success and moral integrity aren’t mutually exclusive. As he put it, “I really do believe the good companies win in the long run.”
As a final sign-off for Future Says, that does nicely.
To watch the full interview with Jim Scapa, and to enjoy Future Says in its entirety, click here.