Indian innovation is for the CFO; not for the customer

TK Arun, Editor, Economic Times, Opinion, raised a question at the recent edition of Epicentre, the seminar on growth opportunities for India Inc, organized by Times Grey Cell. Arun cited the example of Apple Inc, which engages itself in path breaking software development and design, out-sources the manufacture of beautiful products to Taiwanese and Malaysia . companies and then splurges on branding and marketing worldwide for its latest product. The monetary value created from this exercise is added to the bottomline of Apple Inc and in a small way to the companies manufacturing the product in Taiwan and Malaysia. Arun's question was: does this have a parallel in India? Has a single Indian company achieved something similar? Is there innovation in India, which matches this standard? Well, Arun was of the opinion that there wasn't. However, Richard Rekhy from KPMG replied that innovation was rife in India industry and the best example was that of Airtel asking vendors and suppliers to share costs till the money rolled in from users. "The argument may exist," he further explained, "that if the business model had not been successful, Airtel would not have taken off the ground." However, Rekhy clearly felt that this was the best example of innovation in India that he could offer. This precisely is the sad state of affairs in Indian industry. The tragedy is not that there is no innovation, the tragedy really lies with the fact that Indian industry thinks ways of making more money and adding to the kitty is what innovation is all about. If an employee had come up with a plan to create a path breaking design and software code which would have resulted, 10 years of software development and $300 million later, come up with something as good as the Gillette shaver, the Intel chip, the iPad, the digital camera, the digital thermometer etc, he would have been dismissed by Indian industry as a guy who is intent on spending the company's reserves, which have otherwise been kept safe to buy either plant and machinery or the chairman's new car. The sadness emanates from lack of understanding of innovation by senior people in Indian industry who still feel that cost cutting is another name for innovation . Credit goes to the guy who has come up with a way to jackknife his colleagues' demand for a new chair, rejected requests for a new laptop, cut down in-house budgets for offsite get-togethers by employees and forced people to use old and outdated software. That man is worth keeping as he innovates to add to the topline. In Genpact, an employee had been rewarded for reducing a page off the reporting sheet which saved tones of paper but an employee's request for time off to develop a software to track versions of MS word documents to reduce confusion was rejected as it would not result in

India's business chambers which are the voice of industry to the policy makers still use the MS Excel spreadsheet to take care of data. However. However. ³I could invent it maybe because I was not an electronic engineer. One instance of putting the customer centre stage has definitely come from a company. innovation would not be welcome unless one can show a pie-chart of per rupee spent against per rupee gained at the lowest level of operations. Intel spends extensively into its academic programmes where they fund laboratories for students of Indian technical elite universities . It is Tally. the product and the company. This company had no need to develop this product considering its wild fan following in the accountant's world.immediate savings. Jack Philby (on headline) invented the integrated circuit which ultimately led to reduced costs for electronic circuits. the CFO's interests are the centre of attention while in global companies it is the customer who takes centre stage.´ -Regards .0i is an online product where a CFO can maintain his global data on his wap enabled mobile phone. the chairman cum managing director of Tally considers the users of the pirated software using the unofficial trial version of his company's software who are bound to later convert to the official version. they still spend time. Bharat Goenka. which surprisingly services CFOs and their teams. it went ahead and launched the ERP scoring one up on Oracle accountancy module and the SAP finance module. The latest product Tally ERP 9. Their mailers are sent individually and manually and the bounced mails are tracked one by one and reported. he replied. When asked why he could achieve it when no one had even thought about it. In the Indian scenario. which has always taken feedback from its customers to develop new models. These students cut their teeth on Intel technology and recommend the same when they aspire to become chief technology officers in top rung companies. energy and money on innovation not just to butter up the CFO's interests but also to create path breaking technology for the customer. Incidentally. Tally has also never conducted raids with NASSCOM's help in combating piracy of Tally's earlier versions. Intel and AMD does not need to create cutting edge technology in the market as their old tech products sell as well as the new ones. In these areas.

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