In his book Breakout Growth Strategies for Emerging Markets, Professor Jagdish Sheth draws the contours of the 4As framework—acceptability, affordability, accessibility, and awareness—and explains how these can effect transformative change and spark reverse innovation. This outside-in customer-centric approach, which is the foundation of this piece too, is a sure-shot path to gain competitive edge and drive continuous growth.
Peter Drucker, probably the best management thinker of the 20th century, provided two unique perspectives on business. First, the purpose of business is to create and retain customers. This was a novel idea because most corporations and their boards were organized and guided by the corporate governance responsibility to only shareholders and investors. In other words, according to the fiduciary responsibility, the purpose of business is to create wealth for the owners. Drucker challenged that thinking. While today customer centricity and customer engagement are taken as table stakes, it was a radical thought in the fifties.
Drucker also stated that there are only two real functions of business: innovation and marketing. The rest are all costs. Again, it was a unique perspective on how to create value. He felt that innovation and marketing created value while most corporations, and business in general, considered both innovation and marketing as cost centers