Innovated in India, for the world

Since 2012, emerging markets like India, China, Brazil, and Mexico have stepped up their innovation efforts and entered…

Innovated in India, for the world

If you ever thought India is merely a software sweatshop for the west, it?s high time you rethink! India is today poised to play a more significant role in the global R&D spectrum. Since 2012, emerging markets like India, China, Brazil, and Mexico have stepped up their innovation efforts and entered the list of top 10 innovative markets in the world. Overall, these markets contribute 31% of the world?s new product innovation, while innovation in developed markets has dropped to 69%.

Over the years, India R&D has moved up the value chain from cost impact to business impact to strategic impact, with the current ownership to deliver enterprise software products, design future releases of products and influence architecture of next generation products. Housing over 750 product development and engineering services companies and over 1,031 MNC R&D centres, India today has thousands of high-skilled talent to innovate, develop and deliver world-class products. There is variety of technologies owned and delivered from India including a range of systems management products, plugins for heterogeneous data centre, networking switches, building blocks to manage virtual data center, advisors tools to design cluster solutions etc. In fact, global organisations are now leveraging the R&D and Product engineering activities in India to move closer to emerging markets.

Key growth drivers for R&D and innovation

There are several factors that have played a crucial role in driving such a massive growth in R&D and graduation of innovation ecosystem in emerging markets, especially India. Engineering and R&D in India has altered significantly to think from customer point of view. India based design centres are enabling lead engineers and architects to engage with customers for use-case discussions. Being in India, the challenge of limited access to enterprise customers is the reality; so organisations are making best use of international travel and industry events to meet customers worldwide and

understand their needs.

Apart from the customer, the ecosystem of product engineering has come a long way over last decade especially in the hi-tech industry. There has been significant improvement in the availability of senior engineering talent, due to organic investment by India based design centres. Another welcome change is also that individuals are recognising and realising that IT career can be built by climbing the technology ladder. Product engineering companies are able to fulfill such career aspirations more than IT services companies.

The trend to put more ownership in India is becoming a norm. India-based centres are experiencing increased expectations from their corporate headquarters to own the entire product development cycle starting from concept to design to planning to development and finally to sunset products. The most fascinating part is that the Indian counterparts are able to accept such increased ownership and succeed. New capabilities on the managerial ladder have been created and several new roles have started taking birth in India. These are related to program management, product marketing, product quality expert, portfolio management, thus completing the circle of product engineering ecosystem.

Although predominantly products are developed in India for West, consumption of latest products and services by India has seen multifold growth. Indian market is massive in size due to size of the population and mindset is changing fast to adapt the latest in businesses as well as household. This massive business opportunity in India is making the start-up ecosystem attractive and last few quarters has seen flurry of activities by investment community.

Spotlight on the culture of Indian innovation

A culture of innovation can be created through rigorous idea generation. Indian companies are heavily investing in idea generation to create the culture of creativity, motivating to question the status quo, recognising new ideas, creating visibility for out-of-box thinking, mentoring to pursue ideas, filing patents etc. Some or all of these activities are already producing results. Irrespective of the geography, gone are the days when companies used to raise funds and outsource to a scholarly team to produce a niche product. Increasingly, Indian centres too are getting enabled with the right mindset, processes and tools to pursue ideas organically, as well as collaborating with like-minded organisations and finally test with customers prior to large investments. The product engineering in India is producing next generation products and solutions for the world, while exclusive products are being designed for Indian market.

The government is very much doing its part although little bit slow. Government of India has rolled out national level programmes across universities to encourage research and innovation through doctorate efforts. There has been lot of emphasis at academia to build the relation with industry to solve real-life problems through innovative methods. It is encouraging to observe the positive response by industries, national labs and alumni to solidify industry-academia relationship to develop the culture of innovation.

When you look back, the Indian IT industry has been a remarkable success story earning fame for the country globally. From being a software factory for the West in the 80s and 90s, to becoming the largest outsourcing and offshoring destination in the world in the 2000?s, and to developing latest cutting-edge IT solutions this decade, India has constantly delivered to the rest of the world. India is now becoming the epicentre for cutting-edge research and development (R&D) projects of global multinationals as well as local firms. Learning from the East, organisations around the world need to continue to invest in R&D but the foremost challenge for most of them will be to create a unified corporate system that will attract the best of the best R&D capabilities from around the world.

Rudramuni B

The writer is executive director & Head, Dell India R&D

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First published on: 06-10-2014 at 02:36 IST