Sad stories of innovators in India

While it is highly imperative that the next generation will belong to innovators, and I have been very critical of IT companies focussing more on transactional processing related business, there is a sordid picture when someone takes innovation route too.

I was going through the newspaper and understood that MindTree founder Ashok Soota resigned and is pursuing new opportunities. Few years back, MindTree wanted to be away from the regular bunch and started taking bets on research and development. They invested by taking over the R&D wing of Kyocera which is one of the leading handsets manufacturer of wireless phones along with host of other products. The move seemed to have failed as the market has gone much ahead of what Kyocera ever did and MindTree is now forced to convert the acquisition into a test lab for mobile manufacturers.

In another even more upsetting story is that of Ramco which came out with the first Indian ERP. Those who know about Ramco product are very candid in mentioning that the big ones are no match to the usefulness of the product. The suite has been regularly updated and last year the suite was moved on cloud with online ERP services which is probably one of the first of its kind globally. No one took note of that. There were no partners who came to support them nor any Telecom provider ever thought that the product potential can be exploited on their own cloud.

The product which is truly an Indian product for Indian companies is still trying to find its space which it truly deserves. It is understood that the services of this product is being used by 800 plus customers who pay very small amount for the services as the company found no support from any corner to market their product and had ultimately resorted to cutting margins effecting their own growth.

In such a scenario, it is not unusual for most of the Indian companies to keep away from spending money on innovation and keep focussing on ‘today’ with whatever business they can service.

I still maintain that while Ramco is still struggling with moving to the next step, Tally which did just the right marketing became a truly Global product. It is how the product is marketed and awareness increased is what will define the future of the innovation.

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.

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