A glass apart

The Smart Manager - - Contents - 01 https://www.we­fo­rum.org/agenda/2017/06/th­ese-are-the-world-s-fastest­grow­ing-economies-in-2017-2/ 02 In­dia to have 530M smart­phone users in 2018: study

Amit Bansal, Corn­ing In­dia, speaks on their In­dia strat­egy vis-à-vis the global par­a­digm.

In re­cent years, In­dia has been touted as one of the fastest grow­ing economies in the world and stood fourth in 2017, with a fore­cast GDP growth of 7.2%. This has been pos­si­ble, in part, due to the gov­ern­ment’s ini­tia­tives to en­cour­age for­eign play­ers to man­u­fac­ture in In­dia, of which Make in In­dia is a shining ex­am­ple. One such multi­na­tional that has long es­tab­lished its pres­ence in the coun­try is the 167-year-old global be­he­moth Corn­ing In­cor­po­rated, which en­tered the In­dian mar­ket in the 1980s to pro­duce CRT glass for tele­vi­sions. Since then, the com­pany has achieved break­through suc­cess and has di­ver­si­fied its port­fo­lio into op­ti­cal fiber ca­ble and con­nec­tiv­ity so­lu­tions, high-qual­ity emis­sion prod­ucts, spe­cial­ized ma­te­ri­als for the semi­con­duc­tor in­dus­try, lab­ware and so­lu­tions for life sci­ence re­search and bio pro­duc­tion, and the in­ter­na­tion­ally-renowned Go­rilla Glass. To­day, Corn­ing’s in­vest­ments are well-aligned with the emerg­ing mar­ket trends in the coun­try.

C orn­ing has made re­mark­able strides in the In­dian mar­ket since the late 1980s. How crit­i­cal is it, con­sid­er­ing the high smart­phone pen­e­tra­tion in the coun­try? In­dia is one of the fast-grow­ing mar­kets in the world driven by in­creas­ing pen­e­tra­tion of tech­nol­ogy, which in turn has spurred dig­i­ti­za­tion. Ad­di­tion­ally, the ris­ing need for in­fra­struc­ture is sup­ported by a surge in in­vest­ment by the gov­ern­ment, pri­vate in­dus­try, and over­seas in­vestors. The coun­try is in­deed an im­por­tant re­gion for Corn­ing and its growth. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port by Zenith, In­dia is the se­cond largest smart­phone mar­ket in the world, with 1.17 bil­lion mo­bile phone sub­scribers and 300 to 400

mil­lion smart phone users. More­over, the Gov­ern­ment

2 of In­dia re­cently launched the se­cond and fi­nal phase of the BharatNet project in Novem­ber with an out­lay of $5bn. The tele­com in­dus­try is in a con­sol­i­da­tion phase and op­er­a­tors are now fo­cus­ing more on ser­vice qual­ity and net­work per­for­mance. This has led to a spurt in de­mand for op­ti­cal fiber ca­bles, which has more than dou­bled in the last five years in In­dia.

This surge in the smart­phone and in­ter­net us­age gives our op­ti­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions ver­ti­cal as well as the Go­rilla Glass busi­ness an op­por­tu­nity to con­sis­tently in­no­vate to en­hance our of­fer­ings. As a re­sult, it is im­por­tant for Corn­ing to lead the cover glass and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­kets in the coun­try while meet­ing the In­dian con­sumers’ re­quire­ments.

How dif­fer­ent is In­dia com­pared to other de­vel­op­ing mar­kets you op­er­ate in?

Be­ing one of the fastest de­vel­op­ing mar­kets puts In­dia firmly on the map for ex­pan­sion for many brands. The grow­ing need for ad­vanced in­fra­struc­ture, a rapidly de­vel­op­ing mid­dle class, and in­creas­ing pen­e­tra­tion of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances make the coun­try a key mar­ket for Corn­ing. The over­all pat­tern of ex­pan­sion of this mar­ket has con­tin­ued to bring de­mand for many of our prod­ucts that ad­dress the con­sumer elec­tron­ics, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, au­to­mo­tive, and life sci­ences ves­sels sec­tors.

In­dia is a key fo­cus mar­ket for Corn­ing, for all the busi­nesses we op­er­ate in here. Due to an ex­po­nen­tial in­crease in the smart­phone user base in the coun­try, the de­mand for Go­rilla Glass is ex­pected to in­crease in the com­ing years, es­pe­cially in the value seg­ment de­vices mar­ket. More­over, with both state-owned and pri­vate car­rier net­works now fo­cus­ing on strength­en­ing the fiber net­works across the coun­try, there is an in­crease in the de­ploy­ment of high fiber ca­bles in an­tic­i­pa­tion of fur­ther ex­plo­sion in band­width de­mand, which Corn­ing is poised to cater to; thus giv­ing a boost to our op­ti­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tions busi­ness.

As a ded­i­cated part­ner to the In­dian au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try by pro­vid­ing cut­ting-edge emis­sions con­trol prod­ucts and tech­nolo­gies, Corn­ing is set to par­tic­i­pate in In­dia’s Clear Air ini­tia­tive, which will see a fur­ther boost post the roll-out of BS VI norms in In­dia by 2020. In ad­di­tion, the In­dian phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal mar­ket, which is ex­pected to grow to US$ 100 bil­lion by 2025, will lead to op­por­tu­ni­ties for Corn­ing’s life sci­ences busi­ness to help re­searchers and drug man­u­fac­tur­ers seek new ap­proaches to in­crease efficiencies, re­duce costs and com­press time­lines.

Corn­ing’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties are ver­sa­tile and syn­er­gis­tic, and thus al­lows us to evolve to meet chang­ing mar­ket needs, while also help­ing our cus­tomers cap­ture new op­por­tu­ni­ties in dy­namic in­dus­tries. We are well en­gaged with dif­fer­ent in­dus­try play­ers and work closely with them on the chal­lenges they face, and work to­wards pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions.

How do you fos­ter an in­no­va­tion-cen­tric cul­ture at Corn­ing?

In­no­va­tion lies at the heart of every­thing we do, and it is our mis­sion to solve tough prob­lems faced by our part­ners across mul­ti­ple in­dus­tries. At Corn­ing, we suc­ceed in meet­ing th­ese chal­lenges head-on through sus­tained in­vest­ment in re­search, de­vel­op­ment and en­gi­neer­ing (RD&E)—a unique com­bi­na­tion of ma­te­rial and process in­no­va­tion and close col­lab­o­ra­tion with cus­tomers. Ev­ery year, we rein­vest be­tween 8% to 10% of our rev­enues in RD&E, which is sig­nif­i­cantly higher than our peers. We sus­tain this in­vest­ment in good times and bad be­cause we know that to­day’s in­vest­ments cre­ate to­mor­row’s growth drivers.

The grow­ing need for ad­vanced in­fra­struc­ture, a rapidly de­vel­op­ing mid­dle class, and in­creas­ing pen­e­tra­tion of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances make the coun­try a key mar­ket for Corn­ing.

The com­pany has a his­tory of great con­tri­bu­tions in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy—we are in fact, a four-time Na­tional Medal of Tech­nol­ogy win­ner. Our tal­ent pool has not only at­tracted and en­abled the best sci­en­tific minds to be­come a part of Corn­ing but has also brought lifechang­ing in­no­va­tion to your fin­ger­tips for over 166 years.

It is this same spirit of in­no­va­tion that has en­abled us to cre­ate new prod­ucts and mar­kets in In­dia, to in­tro­duce new forms of or­ga­ni­za­tional struc­ture, and to seek new lev­els of em­ployee par­tic­i­pa­tion.

It is this same spirit of in­no­va­tion that has en­abled us to cre­ate new prod­ucts and mar­kets in In­dia, to in­tro­duce new forms of or­ga­ni­za­tional struc­ture, and to seek new lev­els of em­ployee par­tic­i­pa­tion.

How is your In­dia strat­egy dif­fer­ent from the global plan? What are the key as­pects you take into ac­count while de­sign­ing a prod­uct for the In­dian mar­ket?

Corn­ing first be­gan op­er­a­tions in In­dia as a joint ven­ture part­ner to man­u­fac­ture glass tubes for black and white tele­vi­sions. Over the years, we have es­tab­lished our pres­ence as a mar­ket leader in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, life sci­ences, en­vi­ron­men­tal tech­nolo­gies, and spe­cialty ma­te­ri­als. In our en­deavor to de­velop our prod­ucts and of­fer­ings to meet lo­cal re­quire­ments and cur­rent con­sumer trends, we lo­cate our re­gional op­er­a­tions close to our cus­tomers. This helps us to work closely with them and bet­ter un­der­stand their re­quire­ments.

In ad­di­tion, we col­lab­o­rate with our part­ner OEMs and en­gage with their sup­ply chain to de­liver prod­ucts that our con­sumers re­quire. From cat­alytic con­verter sub­strates that help clean the air we breathe and life sci­ence tech­nolo­gies that as­sist in drug dis­cov­ery, to op­ti­cal fiber that will build the tele­com in­fra­struc­ture of the fu­ture and cover glass that will pro­tect mo­bile de­vices from dam­age—we will con­tinue to in­vest in the growth and de­vel­op­ment of In­dia as one of our key mar­kets.

The size, shape, and thick­ness of the glass used in smart­phones is also a fac­tor that con­trib­utes to the de­vice de­sign. How does Corn­ing col­lab­o­rate with man­u­fac­tur­ers in this re­spect? Could you take us through the de­sign process?

When work­ing with our OEM clients, we try to un­der­stand whether the prod­ucts we are pro­vid­ing match their con­sumers’ de­vice re­quire­ments. Usu­ally, a de­vice man­u­fac­turer will have a road map that pro­vides an idea of how they want to use glass in their prod­uct. Keep­ing this in mind, we un­der­take re­search to best un­der­stand th­ese re­quire­ments and de­velop a prod­uct that matches the same.

In ad­di­tion, in some cases we col­lab­o­rate with the OEMs dur­ing the de­sign process to un­der­stand their needs, and en­sure that we keep the fi­nal de­vice’s de­sign at the cen­ter; thereby en­sur­ing that our cus­tomers un­der­stand the trade-offs of the glass it­self ver­sus the de­sign they are look­ing to cre­ate. We en­sure that our cus­tomer is aware that main­tain­ing the bal­ance be­tween the glass and the de­vice’s de­sign, es­pe­cially the de­sign of the glass it­self, is ex­tremely im­por­tant with re­spect to how a prod­uct per­forms in the field.

In a re­cent in­ter­view to an In­dian tele­vi­sion chan­nel, John Bayne, Vice Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Man­ager, Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass spoke about how Go­rilla Glass can be made avail­able for a R5000 fea­ture phone. Is this the next fron­tier for you and how do you plan to be avail­able at all price points?

Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass has a suite of so­lu­tions and is not just lim­ited to de­vices in the premium seg­ment. From the flag­ship Go­rilla Glass 5 to ear­lier gen­er­a­tions such as Go­rilla Glass 4 and 3, the brand has so­lu­tions for its cus­tomers across dif­fer­ent price points and dif­fer­ent seg­ments. There­fore, we are able to pro­vide cost-ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions across a range.

One of Corn­ing’s trust ar­eas has been qual­ity, which of­ten is at stake when one of­fers a wide spec­trum of prod­ucts/ser­vices. How would you de­fine Corn­ing’s qual­ity par­a­digm?

With in­no­va­tion be­ing at the core of all that we do, we be­lieve in main­tain­ing the high­est stan­dards of qual­ity. There are, four fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples as­so­ci­ated with our qual­ity value. The first is to meet our cus­tomers’ re­quire­ments, while the se­cond is striv­ing for er­ror-free work. The third stresses on the need to fo­cus on de­sign in qual­ity while the fourth is to mea­sure and im­prove per­for­mance. All of th­ese prin­ci­ples to­gether ap­ply to the daily op­er­a­tions in our busi­nesses across the globe, thereby lend­ing uni­for­mity.

How do you build brand aware­ness es­pe­cially when your prod­uct is not cho­sen by the end user—for in­stance, in the case of smart­phones the choice more or less lies with the man­u­fac­turer?

The grow­ing de­mand for smart­phones in In­dia has seen an in­creas­ing num­ber of brands across vary­ing seg­ments adopt Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass. Keep­ing this in mind, we have ro­bust mar­ket­ing plans across our var­i­ous mar­kets, in­clud­ing In­dia. And while our fo­cus is on de­vel­op­ing and strength­en­ing our B2B ecosys­tem, we un­der­stand that it is crit­i­cal that we in­clude the end users of our prod­ucts along­side our OEM part­ners in our mar­ket­ing cam­paign, as they are the main con­sumers. This out­reach ac­tu­ally crosses over to the end con­sumer be­cause Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass as a brand is in a rel­a­tively unique sit­u­a­tion where con­sumer aware­ness also drives OEM adop­tion. In fact, we use in­de­pen­dent re­search in key mar­kets to track con­sumer aware­ness on a monthly ba­sis, and aware­ness about Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass as a brand among con­sumers is the high­est in In­dia as com­pared to most mar­kets.

We un­der­stand that it is crit­i­cal that we in­clude the end users of our prod­ucts along­side our OEM part­ners in our mar­ket­ing cam­paign, as they are the main con­sumers.

A great ex­am­ple of how we have built con­sumer brand aware­ness for Go­rilla Glass is through a so­cial me­di­a­cen­tric global cam­paign that was launched this year— Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass: In­cred­i­bly Tough. It is a mar­ket­ing cam­paign that cel­e­brates in­cred­i­bly tough peo­ple do­ing in­cred­i­bly tough things us­ing in­cred­i­bly tough de­vices. The cam­paign has fea­tured some great sto­ries from across the globe in­clud­ing In­dia. In fact, one of the most widely watched videos from this cam­paign is the story that de­picts the daily tough lives of Mum­bai’s dab­bawalas and how their smart­phones are in­te­gral to their every­day rou­tine.

Fo­cus on R&D and in­no­va­tion de­mands a lot of col­lab­o­ra­tion and con­stant up­grad­ing of em­ployee skills/knowl­edge. This places Corn­ing on a track of con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment and widen­ing of the knowl­edge base. How do you achieve this with uni­for­mity across a widely spread work­force?

Corn­ing in­vests sig­nif­i­cantly in RD&E an­nu­ally in order to con­tinue in­no­vat­ing on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. We have a cen­tral­ized R&D cam­pus lo­cated near our head­quar­ters in Corn­ing, New York in ad­di­tion to a global net­work of smaller lab­o­ra­to­ries through­out Asia and Europe in­clud­ing the Corn­ing Re­search Cen­ter in In­dia. Th­ese serve as im­por­tant R&D re­sources for our lo­cal busi­ness and man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions and their cus­tomers. In ad­di­tion, to this net­work of global Sci­ence & Tech­nol­ogy (S&T) lab­o­ra­to­ries, many of our busi­ness di­vi­sions also have tech­nol­ogy cen­ters around the globe to sup­port spe­cific re­gional busi­ness in­no­va­tion ef­forts.

Keep­ing in mind that we are work­ing with a di­verse cus­tomer base in var­ied mar­kets, it is crit­i­cal that we main­tain a global stan­dard of qual­ity while meet­ing unique lo­cal re­quire­ments. While it is def­i­nitely a chal­lenge, we en­sure that our em­ploy­ees across dif­fer­ent mar­kets un­der­stand th­ese vary­ing re­quire­ments by tak­ing ad­van­tage of our in­clu­sive cul­ture to solve prob­lems. Our teams, re­gard­less of lo­ca­tion or lan­guage, col­lab­o­rate and lever­age di­verse per­spec­tives in this process; thereby al­low­ing us to de­velop in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions.

Our cul­ture aims to cre­ate a car­ing and con­sid­er­ate work en­vi­ron­ment, of­fer­ing em­pow­er­ment, flex­i­bil­ity, col­lab­o­ra­tion, recog­ni­tion, and re­spect. It is a cul­ture of learn­ing and in­no­va­tion, where men­tor­ing and be­ing men­tored go hand in hand.

“The more di­verse the team, the bet­ter the out­put”— CEO Wen­dell Weeks had said in a 2015 Global Di­ver­sity In­clu­sion An­nual Re­port. How does di­ver­sity aid growth?

We be­lieve that our great­est strength lies in di­ver­sity— that of our prod­ucts, busi­nesses, and mar­kets, which has al­lowed us to weather numer­ous chal­lenges and suc­ceed over the years. How­ever, what makes Corn­ing a brand to reckon with, is the di­ver­sity our peo­ple bring to the ta­ble, which is an in­te­gral part of our iden­tity.

Di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion are core to our be­lief in the fun­da­men­tal dig­nity of ‘The In­di­vid­ual’—one of Corn­ing’s seven core val­ues. They are busi­ness im­per­a­tives that af­fect how we re­late to and work with one another, our sup­pli­ers, and our cus­tomers. We un­der­stand that di­ver­sity of back­ground helps us gain dif­fer­ent view­points that fur­ther al­lows us to in­ter­pret and solve prob­lems. By valu­ing and re­spect­ing the di­ver­sity that our peo­ple bring, we are able to lever­age the tal­ent and mul­ti­tude of in­no­va­tions they bring to the en­ter­prise. ■

What makes Corn­ing a brand to reckon with, is the di­ver­sity our peo­ple bring to the ta­ble, which is an in­te­gral part of our iden­tity.

(As told to Ashutosh Go­tad)


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