A, B, C Of Navigating Through The Innovation Economy

Ravindra Lalas, Head of Marketing, Platform Solutions, TCS As the head of marketing,Ravindra is responsible for driving global marketing initiatives across TCS' business 4.0 platforms, including CHROMA (Talent 4.0), ERP on Cloud (Enterprise 4.0) and TAP (Procurement 4.0)

A day in life of today's business leaders brings moments of truth that are full of digital disruptions. In this over whelming state of flux, it can get highly demanding for the business leaders to overcome noise while seeking coherence. It is not for the first time that the businesses and economies, world over, seem to reach a point of inflection.From the days of early industrialization, to the era of "mass-production", the introduction of computers, and today' hyper connected digital age, the notion of value creation had to be learned and unlearned every time a technological breakthrough resulted in disrupting the established norms.

At a rather abstract level the management Gurus have, from time to time, characterized the "change of state" when technological disruptions seemed to re-define the ways in which organizations could create value and serve customers. For instance little more than a decade ago, five(digital)forces including Social, Mobile, Big Data, Analytics and Cloud were noted to be the key in bringing disruption. It was termed as an inevitable transition into a new era called the "Digital Age". It seems that in blink of an eye, a decade has just past rendering those most powerful forces as the very basic to today's businesses.

Today's technocrats, intellects, scientist and business leaders are deeply involved in trying to grasp the new breed of digital disrupters including Artificial Intelligence(or Machine Learning), Block Chain, Chatbots, Drones, and Internet of Things, to mention a few. It is not as much a question of riding this new wave of technology, as much it is for the businesses to be able to re-imagine their business models and processes, in light of the potential that these new technologies offer, for creating exponential value for their businesses and customers. It is, therefore, natural for today's business leaders to embrace the "new normal" by approaching the value creation "differently" and enable their business to "differentiate".

Can we arguably say that, with most of the basic "technology barriers" breached, we are now in an age where value creation is about frequent adjustments and re-adjustments, with
businesses requiring to be extremely responsive to consumer demand? When in history did we not only work with "Apps" on our mobile devices, but also saw these "Apps" go through frequent updates? This "new normal"in which businesses learn to invent and re-invent, can therefore be called as "innovation economy".

Organizations also need to take note of another interesting change impacting the way they acquire and retain talent

Here are a few basics of the new normal that today's enterprises must already be mastering in order to be able to navigating through the Innovation Economy.

1) Agile - Organizations are already adopting agile(to be the default way of working), at a much faster pace, and with stronger mandate now. While there are many open source as well as commercial solutions to help drive agile projects, agile is as much a "way of working"that requires a cultural change. Organizations need to factor in a warm up period to allow people familiarize with and appreciate the new (agile) way of working. A focused group, that can lead the way by running a few hand-picked projects, can not only ensure early success but also create an agile support group to coach and mentor other projects along the way. A bigger risk to agile is about losing momentum and focus during the early phases that tend to be experimental and are meant to acclimatize people.

2) Business leadership -­ Organizations need a transition from erstwhile practices that focused on rigid controls to modern leadership styles that nurture talent by encouraging collaboration, experimentation and innovation. In one of the training programs on 'innovation' I came across the concept called "Fail Fast" that essentially referred to a need to recognize uncertainties as reality and embrace constant adjustments in order to eliminate or minimize risks. Organizations also need to take note of another interesting change impacting the way they acquire and retain talent. Yes, the erstwhile game of talent hunting is long over, and the balance is now tilted towards the organizations that are able to lay down practices to harness talent, including ­ internal job postings, cross functional training and focus on digital skills. There is a need for shift in mindset from "control to coach" and from "hunt to harness".

3) Cloud, cloud & cloud ­- If there is a notion that cloud is about "data centers" or even "information technology infrastructure" it must be immediately done away with. One needs to look at cloud from three key aspects Infrastructure, Data and Eco-systems. The infrastructure eliminates technology barrier (for e.g. setting up computing resources without any "exclusive" skills with public cloud), allowing businesses to experiment, and derisk investments. Next, data is no more limited to organization boundaries, but the very fabric weaving the "innovation economy". Data is available for free as well as at premium, without any need to invest in creating data. Last but not the least, modern business breathe on massively connected ecosystems of aggregators, technology (e.g. payment gateways) partners, service (logistics & delivery) providers and value added services. In today's hyperconnected and interdependent economies more innovations are going to come from your partner ecosystem giving exponential gains, so plan to keep your ecosystems well oiled.

Think of the age when humans stopped to be wanderers and discovered economy of scale in settlements? Today's enterprises are part of massive digitally enabled settlements. While "Customer is the king" has been the age old wisdom for the winning organizations, in the innovation economy, the definition of customer needs to be much broader including your ecosystem of cloud infrastructure, data providers, employees, and suppliers. Today's business need to be much more experimental and be prepared to try dramatic ways to create value, as they acquire and serve customers. Welcome to the "Innovation Economy".