What causes Disruptive Innovation – Technology? Cost? Business Models? Operational Models? Products? Services? Markets? All of them? I’ll let you ponder over it and derive an answer for yourself.
Taking a step back, let me recap the three categories of innovation that assume significance for TCS:
(a) Derivative/Sustaining/Incremental Innovations
(b) Transformational / Platform Innovations
(c) Disruptive / Radical Innovations
The first two are well-understood and can be achieved via strong focus on operational efficiencies, agility, simplification, and many other ‘here-and-now’ or even next gen capabilities. Sound project management practices go a long way in ensuring good success with these initiatives, once they are identified via ideation sessions. However, let us not, even for a moment, undermine the significance of these innovations; on the contrary, these are extremely important for the well-being and progress of an organization.
What about disruptive innovations? Well, for one, they are extremely risky by nature. But the potential rewards, if one gets them right, are enormous. They can give tremendous power and advantage to an organization. Now, let us talk a little more about them – what is a catalyst for disruptive innovation? Did I hear ‘diversity’? Well, darn right. A fundamental thinking behind the creation of the TCS Co-Innovation Network (i.e., COINTM, as we all know it) is to stimulate Innovation through diversity and collaboration by design. Over the last 10 years that COINTM has been in formal existence, we have learned a lot and have made refinements in how we can derive value from an ecosystem approach for collaborative Innovation and also contribute value to our partners in the network. A number of our customers now look at COINTM as a potential strategy to pursue opportunities for disruptive and even transformational innovations. And, that’s a great source of encouragement and strength for us.
Innovator type 2
Who should go the extra mile? In the ‘new normal’ economy that we live in, customers are quite risk averse for a majority of their technology investments. They want to witness implementation successes, before even pitching it to their business leaders. Meanwhile, disruptors are impatient. Used to technology and business agility, they can spend only so much time and resource on fleshing out a big idea. It is not just the case of a garage invention, but many research ideas in big enterprises also languish. When the rigor of real world implementation hits them, and audits by external units, disruptions often don’t measure up. So disruptions need two types of Innovators: the ideas / research guy, and an inspiring business head who has the muscle to stand up and take a chance. In fact, it is the type 2 innovator who gives it a life outside the garage.
Now, back to COINTM. It often plays the role of being the bridge between the two innovators. While it audits, and assesses the market for a disruptive innovation, it also brings it closer to type 2 innovators. It prepares customers to be patrons of disruptions. Here are some initiatives we have taken toward this:
- The TCS innovation portfolio makes room for disruptive innovations. We encourage our customers to partake of this.
- We help our customers meet Silicon Valley start-ups, venture partners and other technology companies. This is to encourage awareness and adoption. We do it through Innovation Days, Innovation Forums, workshops.
- Set up pilots: We work with our internal business and customer teams to pilot new technologies and models.
- Perhaps the most important one is to ‘listen’ – listen to customers, partners, researchers, analysts, etc., and derive ‘insights’ that are of value for planning effective collaborations.
The Silicon Valley Meet and Greet event provides a great opportunity towards these. I look forward to returning an ‘enlightened’ person that will help me do a much better job of ‘Technology Evangelism’!
Shashi Bhushan, Chief Innovation Evangelist, CTO, TCS
Shashi’s experience includes Innovation & Research Commercialization, Business Development & Management, Project Management, Consulting, System Programming, Strategy Formulation and Deployment, and Teaching. He holds a Masters in Industrial Management from IIT, Madras.