Time Is Now To End Innovation Myopia
“Not only has the basis of computing changed, but the basis of competition has also changed too” – Andrew S. Grove, Only the Paranoid Survive.
Andy Grove wrote that a couple of decades back, but it beautifully, in a nutshell, defines the state of IT industry at this point in time. The traditional IT outsourcing models are aging and losing sheen by the day and its time to re-invent IT with focused innovation strategies to stay in the race. The computing industry is on the cusp of things. Many companies are struggling to make up for the lost growth and revenues as the industry by and large was caught in a disruptive nexus of forces that has manifested in an alphabet soup of abbreviations – ranging from IoT to SDN et al. Let’s go to the core question: What ails growth? Beyond the sluggish economy, it’s the lack of innovation that’s slowing down things.
Most technology leaders you meet today lip syncs ‘Innovation’. But very little is said about what are they innovating? or How is it manifesting at ground zero? Particularly, when you look at an industry like IT outsourcing, in which every vendor has a global sourcing model- but at the end of the day, it’s a model each one struggles to differentiate. So if you ask the IT service providers- what is your Innovation Quotient (IQ), the chances are you might not get a lucid answer- because most of the jobs they do are still linear. But sadly, the IT outsourcers here in this part of the world are measured only based on their stock and quarterly performance and many fail to look at parameters like in what ways they have innovated enterprise IT organizations with their services or how much they invested in R&D or creating CoEs and stuff like that. But now the time has come wherein IT organizations are demanding more innovation from services providers, hence it is imperative they raise their bar by providing ‘Innovation Benchmarks’ in order to transition to the next orbit.
That leads to the critical question: Are Indian IT Outsourcers prepared for this change? The answer is by and large a very fudgy one you get. For instance, I asked a leading IT industry CEO this question, and he gave a typical reply: “The answer to your question is a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. I left it with that, as probing further will only yield such ‘politically correct’ ambiguous answers. All said and done this process of innovation the industry has been talking for years. And if you look at the IT industry, the only way innovation can come about is non-linear innovation- wherein the emphasis is more on IP, products, platforms, service excellence et al as against the ‘time and material’ model. But we need to accept the fact that IT services in India is still mired in linearity and it will take a while for nonlinearity to kick in and every company’s dream is to grow its non-linear revenues.
Bottom-line: In an Indian context, for those companies struggling to put in an innovation roadmap, the time is now for decoding the innovation cliché and end myopia by infusing more granularity, action, and clarity in terms of innovation in tangible terms.
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