Products are just one dimension of innovation. While successful product companies are very profitable, many product companies don't make money. While there is a lot of innovation happening in the Indian IT industry, there is much scope for improvement, feels Mr Rishikesha T. Krishnan, Professor of Corporate Strategy and Policy, Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore. In this interaction, he discusses the need for innovating beyond processes and the importance of greater collaboration between industry and academia. Edited excerpts:
What kind of innovation should the Indian IT industry be doing?
The focus of innovation in the IT industry has so far been on business models such as the global delivery model and processes (quality control, project management, recruitment and training). There is a need to widen the scope of innovation.
Could you give us some examples?
I am impressed by some of the work multinational companies have been doing at their development centres in India. For instance, Intuit has a platform called Fasal that uses sophisticated matching algorithms to link farmers with agents and buyers so that they get better price realisation. The communication happens through SMS. Already, more than 6 lakh farmers are a part of the Fasal network. India has some of the largest mobile companies in the world in terms of number of subscribers and IBM Research has been working with India's leading mobile service companies to develop dynamic methods of call data record analysis that will help enhance the efficiency of data centres.
Should the IT industry do product innovation?
Products are just one dimension of innovation. While successful product companies are very profitable, many product companies don't make money. Yes, it would be good to have some more product companies from India, but we needn't be obsessed with product innovation.
How do we strengthen partnerships between the IT industry and academia?
Currently, most relationships revolve around recruitment and placement. We need to have more knowledge-driven partnerships. This will happen when academia embraces a stronger research agenda and when industry seeks to put more innovation into their business. Organisational innovations like the IIT Madras Research Park offer new platforms for industry and academia to work together.