Sunday, March 19, 2006

Business Velocity and the Innovation Imperative

Speed Demons - in BusinessWeek

"...Virgin Comics LLC was born. The company was revealed to the world on Jan. 6, and now Branson and Virgin Comics Chief Executive Sharad Devarajan are sketching out grand plans. They hope to build India into a multibillion-dollar comics market by plying its under-20 population of 500 million with mythic tales. And there may be huge opportunities for export to the West. Seven titles are due out in the U.S., Britain, and India in the coming months. Even animated movies and TV shows are on drawing boards in Bangalore"

"It's all being driven by a new innovation imperative. Competition is more intense than ever because of the rise of the Asian powerhouses and the spread of disruptive new Internet technologies and business models. Companies realize that all of their attention to efficiency in the past half-decade was fine -- but it's not nearly enough. If they are to thrive in this hypercompetitive environment, they must innovate more and faster."

"...Then there's technology. The Internet has become ubiquitous, so companies can connect with talent anywhere in the blink of an eye, inside or outside the company. Open-source software can be plucked off the shelf to become the foundation of new software programs or Web sites. Algorithms can be used to slice and dice market information and spot new trends."

Personally, I was stunned when I first came across outsourcing. Most of us associate outsourcing with the offshoring of work from the US, but the real power of outsourcing today lies in the ability to attain world-class capabilities almost instantly. It is a concept akin to the modular creation of software - the modular build-up of organizations. Today, it is possible to almost "create" a company from scratch - you conceptualize the overall design and outsource the actual functioning of individual divisions (the "modules") to partners who specialize in individual areas. And just like you could call the best piece of sorting code without bothering about how it was written, you gain access the best global practices and technology in an area without bothering about the nitty-gritties. As BusinessWeek calls it... witness the emergence of the Agile enterprise.

In interesting times, we live.
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