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Dr. Kishore Swaminathan
As the chief scientist of Accenture, Dr. Kishore Swaminathan defines Accenture's Technology Vision and helps set Accenture's technology and research agenda. He also directly heads Accenture's Systems Integration research located in Chicago (US), Silicon Valley, California (US), Sophia Antipolis (France) and Bangalore (India).

Born and raised in the 2,500 year old city of Madurai in southern India, Swaminathan took an interest in science while studying, ironically, history. "I realized that the ideas of Archimedes and Pythagoras endure but not the empire of Alexander," he recalls. "It made me want to focus on science to understand the world in a deep way, taking nothing for granted, but questioning everything."

At 18, he enrolled in the elite Indian Institute of Technology at Madras, where he received his Bachelor of Technology in aeronautical engineering, and then went on to earn his master's and Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. "Even my doctoral dissertation was concerned with science," Swaminathan says. "I was interested in artificial intelligence and natural language processing, so I focused on how computers might be able to process scientific literature and discover scientific trends."

Although he originally intended to become a teacher, he accepted a position at Accenture's Center for Strategic Technology Research in Chicago in 1990 since "it was a new lab that was just getting started and I thought I'd be able to help define and shape the lab." Over the years, Swaminathan has worked on more than a dozen research projects and has as many patents to his credit. His interests include document understanding, corporate knowledge management, computer-supported collaboration, sensor networks, data and process analytics, system architecture and software development. One of his projects in corporate knowledge management received the Computerworld Smithsonian award for the best application of IT in 2000.

In 2001, Swaminathan took a one-year leave of absence from Accenture to launch Artsonia, an online children's art museum that now displays over a million pieces of art from children in more than 100 countries. "I always felt that schools focus so much on teaching, but not enough on fostering creative self-expression," he says. "For me, Artsonia was a labour of love - to give children a global audience for something they did on their own."

Creativity and innovation will be recurring themes in Swaminathan's role as the chief scientist of Accenture. "For any company, innovation comes from a systemic mind-set that embraces and nurtures creative ideas," he notes. "Creativity does not necessarily result in innovation, but there's no innovation without creativity."

As a result, Swaminathan wants to identify creative people from all levels of the company and set up mentorship programs to nurture and develop their ideas, in addition to several other ambitious plans. "Last year, I took on the responsibility to develop - from scratch - a brand-new research capability in software engineering and systems integration in Accenture. In less than three years, I want to create a research group of big thinkers who are not afraid of redefining the field. We are going to completely rethink how large-scale business systems will be architected, designed, built, managed, operated and so on. This is strategically important for Accenture, our clients and society at large given the importance of computers in our daily lives."
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