The Innovation Engineering Group (IEG) has been Microsoft Research Asia’s engineering task force since its inception. The team starts with rough ideas, rickety prototypes, or incomplete snippets of code. From these they go on to build complete, working solutions over a wide array of platforms. They’ve integrated code hundreds of times into most of Microsoft’s flagship products, including Windows, Xbox, Office, Bing, Azure, and Cognitive Services. And they have spun off parts of the team to form new product groups.
IEG operates in a highly agile, startup-like environment. Many projects operate with just a handful of people and shipping in less than ten Sprints. Their charter is to spin up experiments and then move on, never lingering in one area for long. They have a strong culture of experimentation and listening to users. They prefer that projects achieve scale and graduate, or fail fast. In either case they will usually just ship one version and then move on.
IEG team members thrive on learning — a necessity when you never know what you will work on next and there are no dedicated roles such as “PM” or “Tester.” They may work on mobile apps (UWP, iOS, Android), Cloud services, or Enterprise apps using C#, C++, Java, or Python running on PCs, smart phones, HoloLenses, FPGA boards, Raspberries, or custom hardware. They could be using ML tools such as CNTK, TensorFlow, Caffe, or just plain old MatLab on CUDA. They could be 3D-modeling meshes for game engines, or 3D-printing robot or Wearable components. They could even be generating background music for app preview videos.
So besides coding they also own User Experience Design, Industrial Design, Hardware Engineering, Agile Project Management (using VSO), Quality Control, Sustaining Engineering, and Compliance for Privacy, Security, Legal, and Geopolitical issues.
Innovation Engineering Group Summary
IEG has the Startup-like ability to experiment and innovate rapidly, but with the stability and discipline of an established and mature company — the best of both worlds.