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May - 2008 - issue > Last Word
The-emerging-East-to-West-model
Karthik Sundaram
Thursday, May 1, 2008
India is increasingly being looked towards for providing strategic innovation needed in serving not only the local consumers but also the global needs. Moving beyond supporting their global businesses, the Indian arms of MNCs are evolving as ‘centers of excellence’ for innovation and growth. More than 300 multinational corporations have set up R&D centers in India and many, if not all, of them help fuel the innovation driven products and solutions along with the India based companies who also have realized the necessity of this to expand globally.

Earlier, products were designed for the developed markets in the West, given the consumption power that exists there and provided as it is or with some localization to the consumers across the de3veloping world. Today this paradigm is no longer viable, given the consumption power and emergence of mid markets in the developing regions like India, China, the Middle East, and parts of Europe and Africa. The products, solutions, and services being designed in places like India are beginning to serve the needs of not only the local markets but also are increasingly bringing new alternatives to the markets in the West and as such they fuel the new innovation model of East to West and East to East.

Workforce development in an innovating organization
While India is emerging as a top global innovator for high-tech products and services, it is under performing with respect to its innovation potential, according to the World Bank report titled “Unleashing India’s Innovation”. Despite the abundance of young technical workforce, there are significant gaps in the innovation potential: Domain knowledge and product or solution conceptualization, commercialization, and management experience being the main areas of opportunity to increase India’s innovation potential. Building these critical workforce capabilities and aligning the talent strategy with the business strategy will be key enablers in systematically creating India’s innovation driven results, which can be showcased, to the entire world.

Broad-based competency development programs can help, but what we need are carefully designed and focused formal and informal learning, development and delivery methods that balance corporate initiated and government sponsored programs with self-initiated development programs, all driven by the passion for learning by the workforce.

While organizations need to be more innovative, excellence in execution and day-to-day operations is critical. Doing things for the thousandth time with the same passion and quality that one had while doing it for the first time is equally important.

Organizations and leaders who successfully manage both innovation and operation with the right balance and focus will be the ones who will stand out in the long term. Many such organizations and leaders exist in India today and I have no doubt that their number will multiply significantly in the next five years, creating a significantly positive cascading effect on the Indian society as a whole.

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