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Attitude that we will do all the innovations ourselves needs to change!!

20 Nov

By Nitesh Naveen, Co-founder & CEO – Unicom Seminars India
20 Nov 2015


Innovation has been a buzz word ever since it was coined. Innovation can be viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, inarticulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term innovation can be defined as something original and, as a consequence, new, that “breaks into” the market or society.

UNICOM Seminars brought in Innovation by developing a team and process that enabled us to build a capability of getting “U” number of people (we think ‘X’ has been overdone with and love the Letter “U” as it is all about you and Unicom) under one roof on any particular day at 10% of the existing cost. “U” depends on the objective (Why, when, etc.) and $$$$$ in hand. 🙂

We realised that we can do multiple businesses with this capability. We chose IT industry as our first home because we knew it better. We decided to run Knowledge share Summits, Trainings and Showcase events as our initial ‘Value to Market’ strategy. So from what started as building an Unfair Advantage (reference: Lean Start Up) has now resulted in defining UNICOM as B2B2C platform in the area of knowledge share and customer reach for IT Industry.

We now work closely with Marketing department of few IT companies (product, services and consulting) and help them to reach out to their customers. We also work closely with L&D teams helping them to develop future thought leaders of the world. We are building communities of highly passionate professionals about whom you will read or hear in months to come. We have still not reached the million dollar mark, but have created a platform that can help us cross it next year.

In 2014, we experimented and found success in getting the “U” in 9 countries across 5 product lines. We chose to silently build this capability, sensing that we need to keep a low profile till we raise the entry barrier in our highly lucrative business, a lip smacking $100bn industry. This innovation in Marketing was possible because the corporate Marketing team was open to use innovations outside their company. The usual chase to reach the target keeps them focussed and they were culturally open to absorb innovations thanks to the cut throat competition in their function.

In all the 9 countries where we ran events – India, USA, UK, Singapore, South Africa, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and Netherlands – we noticed that innovations are now largely carried out by smaller companies esp. in the start-up phase. This was hardly surprising. However what was surprising to see was very few Big companies were involving those ‘outside their office” innovations in their innovation basket. I spoke to few CIOs/CTOs of IT Product and Services team and realised that they want their employees to do those innovations themselves, file for the patent themselves or consider their innovation plan to be superior than ‘others’. Good thing was that they were talking about innovation. Bad thing was that they were having little idea about the ground realities, thanks to their companies who have allowed only their sales team to talk to their customers. Worse thing was that they think they completely know what their customer wants and what their competitors are doing, little realising that their competitor’s face is changing faster than they think.
India’s celebrated Retail king and promoter of Big Bazaar retail chain, Mr Kishore Biyani, used to compete with RPG, Reliance, Tatas and Birlas of the world and had a team of strategists working out ways to tackle international retail biggies. He is now competing with year old start-ups who are using technology to change the buyer’s behaviour. In Australia, the likes of Coles and Myers are going through similar phase. This story is similar in most of the countries where we entered in 2014. Companies that had ears and eyes close to the ground, like Target and Walmart adopted the market ready innovations provided by start-ups and are looking competitive enough to face the next disruption in retail.

 

Biggest adopter of ‘Ready to Market’ Innovation is Healthcare sector. This was surprising to me as it is also the most regulated industry. However their evolution is a case study for other industries to imbibe.

 

One of the industries I find to be vulnerable is Indian IT Services Industry. They are competing on cost as revealed by Mr Vishal Sikka, CEO of Infosys (was that a revelation??) and in my opinion are trying to rely on their execution capability to replicate an innovation done by others. While being a fast second mover is a good and safe bet for IT Services companies, it can sometimes be too late when business brings a disruptive competitor/technology/change. Would it not work to the best of their advantage to promote strategic Tech start-ups by inviting them to work closely with their innovation team, helping them to grow and thereby provide more and better service to their client base? While IT services in India are working with few start-ups, won’t they be real leaders (like their US counterparts) when they adopt at least 100 start-ups each aligning to their business profile. Do they have money to do this? I think they have plenty. Do they have vision to do this? I hope they do have.


Just imagine how our world would change if each of the top 5 IT services company in India (TCS, CTS, Infosys, Wipro & Tech Mahindra) adopts atleast 100 tech start-up each. Now tell me why they are not doing? Can’t we show the world that we can take initiative in not only adopting villages & toilets but also start-ups?

 

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