It is by now an accepted notion that “change is the only thing constant”.
We live in an exciting era, where the environment is changing at a pace and scale seen never before.
It seems to be directed at us relentlessly, requiring organizations to be on their feet all the time.
These disruptions pose enormous challenges to us and our resources, but they also allow us to innovate to survive constantly.
We have seen from history and in recent times how market leaders like Kodak, Nokia, Blackberry, Blockbuster, etc., fell from their pedestal and succumbed because they failed to see the change coming and failed to innovate ahead of time.
It is not that Kodak did not see digital photography coming, or Nokia realizing that software will take over the hardware in phones, or Blockbuster didn’t know that digital media is the way forward.
Instead, either a sense of complacency or sheer indifference led them to fall by the wayside. Kodak had initiated digital photography but didn’t pursue it vigorously; Nokia was working on its own OS but didn’t realize that software will overweigh hardware in mobile phones; Blockbuster saw the Internet coming but didn’t take it seriously.
Innovation is a mindset.
For too long, organizations were leading the Innovation.
They just fed the customers with products and services as they deemed fit. The consumer had little role in Innovation in the past.
But with digitization and a connected world, and an educated consumer, the customers are starting to dictate what they want.
CK Prahalad and Gary Hamel, in their book “Competing for the Future,” tell us that “innovation is waiting to happen, you just got to switch on your headlights.”
It is so true.
There are so many low-hanging fruits out there, but organizations either fail to see it or are indifferent.
With the advent of Smart Phones, display technology has improved by leaps and bounds.
We are now getting Super Amoled Displays with 120 Hz refresh rates with 800 nits brightness in budget phones for less than Rs.17,000/-. Something unimaginable.
Every other sensor is now incorporated in smartwatches, and it is threatening to replace the phone very shortly.
When such display technologies and sensors are available, why are we still having manual instrument clusters and display systems in automobiles?
Be it the cars or the motorcycles.
When the whole world is turning digital, why are automakers still providing analog manual Instrument Clusters?
Digital reduces mechanical and physical parts, increases reliability, and adds to the aesthetics. It also gives flexibility in terms of customization and design changes at the backend through the software updates.
It is so true for motorcycles also.
Why continue with mechanical instrument clusters rather than adopting digital instrument clusters.
Take the case of handbrakes in cars and other vehicles. Why should we have a cumbersome heavy physical handbrake when it can be operated with an electrical switch.
Similarly, for ignition and other mechanical devices, it’s about time to shift to digital.
Why are automakers still providing rearview mirrors when they can also provide 360-degree camera views for all-round visibility.
At homes, why are we still using physical switches to switch on lights, fans, etc?
Why aren’t companies moving towards digital switches operated via the smartphone?
Why are organizations still persisting with physical, manned call centers when Alexa and Google Assistant type chat/voice bots are available.
Many organizations are still working on traditional ERPs, while many others have moved to mobile platforms. The world is moving towards mobile platforms and mobile phones outnumber desktops.
Most organizations still follow the practice of physical Identity Cards which are also used as an Attendance marking system. Today face recognition systems had advanced to near perfection, that you can do away with physical interfaces for the attendance monitoring systems. Besides geo-tagging in mobile phones, monitoring employees’ movements and attendance has become all the more simple.
Many banks are still caught in the mire of bureaucracy and still insist on paperwork and documentation. Many of the new age digital payment companies are able to open bank
accounts in minutes, trading platform in minutes and get their customers up and running in a matter of minutes.
And the list goes on and on. It’s the same story in many organizations.
Innovation is waiting to happen but organizations have turned a blind eye towards it.
Yes, the cost could be an issue, but it is only a matter of time that the costs will come down. History has shown that digitization brings down costs when compared to mechanical operations. It’s proven and time-tested.
‘Innovation is a question of mindset, and creating that mindset precedes everything else. In my opinion, it’s the innovation mindset that overrides the aspects of human nature that are often holding back innovation in large organizations.’
Innovation is basically a mindset. Its an attitude demonstrated by the organization and its leadership. If there is a will to innovate and continuously it is possible. For that organizationsmust keep an open mind, keep their radars and antennae open all the time, and cash in on opportunities. Remember the ‘first mover advantage’. Organizations have to be prepared for a continuous response to opportunities as they emerge.
It will only be a matter of time before customers will start dictating what they want and organizations will have to provide or perish.
“Innovation is not reserved for the few; it is something we will all need to embrace if we are to move forward.”― George Couros, The Innovator’s Mindset.
Mr. Ramesh has served the H.R. and Businesses for 35 Years. He is a former V.P. of H.R. in Schneider electric and worked in Indian & Multi-National Companies in various capacities, including leadership role for the last 20 years.