Underestimated Creativity of a Career in IT

Creative Minds Wanted: The Underestimated Creativity of a Career in IT

There’s a pre-conceived notion that all information technology professionals are simply math or science whizzes, and these careers are solely relegated to people who are tech-savvy and easily excited by code, cloud computing or cyberspace. While the IT world is ideal for the mathematic, technologically or scientifically-minded, there’s another little-known category of people perfect for the profession: creative thinkers.

Every day, IT professionals are faced with the challenge of solving problems in thoughtful and imaginative ways. In fact, Angela Williams, director of Information Security, shares this is one of the most intriguing aspects of her position. “There’s not a day when I come into my office and don’t think ‘What’s next?’,” says Williams. “I go looking for the next challenge, the ability to problem solve in a new way.”

Gopala Molakaluri, IT Manager II, Digital Experience IT, flexes his creative muscle every day as his team works to create the best online experience for members using the Blue Cross Member Portal and BCBSM mobile app. Here he shares his path into IT, the opportunities for those with creative minds, and a behind-the-scenes look into the design of the BCBSM mobile app.

How it All Started

Molakaluri’s career spans more than 20 years. Originally, he was interested in computer engineering and programming in his home country of India. “In the beginning, I worked as a system engineer setting up networks and I also ran large systems for banks,” says Molakaluri. “Coming up with creative solutions, and enabling businesses to run smoothly by removing the fear of technology being ‘too complex’ through education, helped me immensely in connecting with my customers and becoming part of their success.”

He shares that, from here, an interesting series of events drove him to a career in IT. “Back in 2015, I was at a conference representing my automotive employer at the time,” he says. “I was actively engaged in the hands-on workshop, sharing ideas and discussing solutions for the problems faced by other attendees representing businesses in the metro Detroit area.”

As fate would have it, Blue Cross was one of the participating companies. At the conference, Molakaluri ran into a manager and a casual conversation changed the course of his career. “This manager reached out to me and brought up a couple of technology challenges at Blue Cross and sought my opinion on them,” says Molakaluri. “I was able to share some ideas and viable solutions he needed, and he was so impressed with the approach and actionable aspects of my solutions that I was eventually offered a position.”

Where Can Creatives Shine in IT?

According to Molakaluri, his career is more than meets the eye. “A lot of what we do in Digital Experience is about just that – the user experience,” says Molakaluri. He emphasizes that technology does not do this alone, rather it serves as platform of the service which is designed to meet users’ needs. “The experience is weaved in with a blend of technology and presentation, then packaged into an application to help our users effective accomplish their task,” says Molakaluri.  “Technology does one thing well. When we create an experience, we make it robust through a series of tests, so solving any problems in this process will produce a successful product.”

According to Molakaluri, the industry outlook for the “creative mind” is very bright. “Creative resources will always have a place in technology, because they can envision an experience and take it through the finished state by finding ways and means along the journey,” says Molakaluri. In fact, there are a variety of ways creatives can showcase their skill in the IT industry. “One creative avenue is in presentation, done by someone with key insight into what will appeal to the user,” says Molakaluri. “This includes choice of color combinations, laying out information on the screen, logical and natural flow between screens in a simple and appealing manner meeting user expectations.”

The “journey” is another avenue where creatives can excel in IT. “Journey maps are a set of ideas developed out of discussions and brainstorming sessions with various teams, facilitated by business analysts,” says Molakaluri. “They specialize in deconstructing a large piece of information into bits and pieces to build an amazing ‘journey’ for our members, breaking down each stage the user is expected to go through when using the tool.” The end result? A product vision document outlining a collection of experiences and flows users are led through as they look to accomplish tasks.

Creativity in Action: The Blue Cross Mobile App

The desire to elevate members’ experience engaging with the company created the initial journey to what became the BCBSM mobile app. “We wanted to take the member portal website to the next level, but we had to figure out exactly what that meant,” says Molakaluri. “We researched some outstanding mobile apps that served the same purpose as what we envisioned and used that knowledge to define the scope and objectives for our Mobile App.” From there, the six-month iterative process of designing, developing and testing of the Mobile App began. “We followed the Agile product development methodology which helped us to develop the product gradually with continuous feedback, making it a quality and successful application when we launched,” says Molakaluri. “It’s a creation we are very proud of.”

Accessibility, Molakaluri shares, was the primary motivation behind the design of the mobile app. “We wanted users to be able to access their plan information within the app on-the go,” says Molakaluri. “We were driven to make it simple, accessible and help members get their tasks done.”

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Photo Credit: Startup Stock Photos

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