The problem of innovation begins with nomenclature — there are as many views on what is and how it should be practised as there are thinkers and companies in the country. But as an industry survey recently revealed, there is inadequate evidence of sustainable and globally commercialised innovation in India, including in the IT industry. While our country abounds with creative ideas and brainwaves, a systematic process of building sustainable innovations is needed to make the innovation imperative a reality.
To understand the innovation imperative and its challenges and opportunities, we need to use the lens of sustainability and commercialisation. When the Indian IT industry first looked at innovation as the next frontier after lowest cost and highest quality, I had the privilege to lead the innovation movement in Nasscom for a few years.
The hypothesis we pursued was that innovation was needed not just in the creation of new products and services, but also in processes and business models. We also researched the work of two great
Harvard innovation gurus, Christiansen and Tushman, and looked at the contexts in which the Christiansen doctrine of spinning out disruptive innovation ideas into two new independent entities would rule over the ambidexterity model of Michael Tushman, where a climate of continuous innovation punctuated by a few breakthrough radical innovations would be the way to go.
Most companies in the IT industry have successfully innovated across processes with the result that the global delivery model used for offshoring critical technology development and business process management has enabled India to steadily extend its lead at the top of the outsourcing business for many years. Even input processes have been innovated with the “source and train” model adopted by companies to work with smart skills development companies and create a pool of off-campus talent at lower cost and predictable quality has been threatening the more traditional of hiring more people in campuses and training them at in-house facilities.
Companies like Global Talent Track which pioneered the Just-in-Time rather than Just-in-Case resourcing model today work with companies, universities and even governments on this model. In the core business