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Monday, January 09, 2006

Innovation: Changing Footprints

Courtesy of Vinnie came across this businessweek article on sustaining US innovative capabilities wherein Roger Martin writes, there is a romantic notion in North American business that its future lies in design and innovation, while India and China will be the home of less skilled, lower-paying operations churning out the products and services the U.S. comes up with. He points out after visiting India headquartered global service firms that these globally oriented outfits are not entrusting all creativity, design, and innovation to "first world" opponents while they huddle over their workstations. He warns that If North American businesses genuinely want to ward off Indian and Chinese rivals, they'd better start by rejecting the notion of an apparent trade-off between low cost on one hand and design and innovation on the other. He was perhaps referring to views similar to that of Daniel H. Pink, author of the new book A Whole New Mind, wherein he argues that the "left brain" intellectual tasks that "are routine, computer-like, and can be boiled down to a spec sheet are migrating to where it is cheaper, thanks to Asia's rising economies and the miracle of cyberspace." The U.S. will remain strong in "right brain" work that entails "artistry, creativity, and empathy with the customer that requires being physically close to the market." (Note : I feel that this viewpoint may not be entirely incorrect - there may be differences in degrees of accepting this but can't be dismissed as wrong)
As covered in this blog earlier in a related post the sanely views of John Hagel & John Seely Brown noticing that the entrepreneurial outfits in China and India are relying on innovation as a way to get better faster. it's a different form of innovation. In the U.S., when executives talk about innovation, they tend to focus on breakthrough products or technology. But in China and India, the majority of businesses focus on rapid incremental process and product innovation. It's much less visible. It doesn't grab the headlines. But over time it can lead to impressive advances. Asian companies are already leading in developing mobile-phone technology, aided in part by their domestic markets, which have become early adopters of this new technology. Just as the personal computer was the platform for tech innovation in the last three decades, mobile-access devices will be the platform for innovation in the 21st century. Asian businesses are well-positioned to develop the next wave of breakthroughs on this key platform.Innovation is an accomplishment that the US has invested heavily in and taken great risks to achieve.
My Take : Is it the end of the road for the west : No Way - Most leading Western companies are turning toward a new model of innovation, one that employs global networks of partners. These can include U.S. chipmakers, Taiwanese engineers, Indian software developers, and Chinese factories. IBM is even offering the smarts of its famed research labs and a new global team of 1,200 engineers to help customers develop future products using next-generation technologies. When the whole chain works in sync, there can be a dramatic leap in the speed and efficiency of product development . Do not miss to read why patents should not be equated with Innovation. The US is the economic engine of the world – lets hope that it continues to innovate faster, better and emerge stronger. Collaboration in innovation is always a workable solution. Together with the Asia let more innovation blossom and let the world prosper a lot more - innovation and prosperity are closely related.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"