Wednesday, December 4, 2013

India Inside by Nirmalya Kumar and Phanish Puranam

Why doesn't Indian businesses come out with  products like Google, iPod, and Viagra  ? 
Is India a laggard in business innovation? 
No, say the authors of this book Prof. Nirmalya Kumar and Prof. Phanish Puranam of London Business School who are experts on business in India.
The point they make through this book is  - a considerable innovation does take place in India but it is invisible to end consumers around the world.

Such invisible innovations from India as discussed in this book are of  four types:
1. Globally segmented innovation led primarily by major multinational corporations that have set up "captive" innovation and R&D centers in India.
2. Outsourcing innovation to Indian firms where R&D  services are provided on contract to support new product development for consumers in the developed world.
3. Process innovation in Indian firms  as a result of low-paid yet highly skilled young Indians using their ambition to inject innovation into jobs that their Western counterparts would perceive as "dead ends"
4. Management innovation of the global delivery model to effectively bring global scale and cost efficiencies to previously locally clustered service processes.

In addition to the above invisible innovations, the authors also discuss visible innovations from India which manifest through "frugal engineering" of products and services. Frugal engineering is the uniquely Indian ability to develop using limited resources, consumer offerings that are low-cost, compact, efficient and robust.

The book also acknowledges and analyzes several constraints  to innovation in India. But based on their extensive research, the authors  believe  that despite these impediments, for the kind of innovations mentioned above, India's potential to become a significant force in the world can't be ignored. They provide several potential responses and recommendation for the MNCs and Western policy makers to deal with India's invisible-innovation and frugal engineering challenge and benefit  from it.

Well organized and well written book though slightly academic for a lay reader.
This book definitely offers an interesting perspectives on India's innovation capabilities.
A good read for professionals from any industry !

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