Monday, June 16, 2008

Innovation and Investment

I was reading the BusinessWeek dated last week of April ( better late than never :-)). The cover story is about the annual global survey that BusinessWeek does on the “Most Innovative Companies”.

It was heartening to see two Indian companies in the top 25, the Tata group and Reliance Industries. The Tata group made it to the list, fuelled by the $2500 Nano for the masses.

The brief description given on GE which stands 4th in the ranking list was about the $ 1500 Electrograph which its engineers based out of India have created focussing on servicing the bottom of the pyramid in developing countries.

One of the things that we tend to do in our minds is to equate innovation with industries like Pharma, Technology, Engineering etc. But innovation is far beyond this and covers the smallest of things in the smallest of industries. It is about the small sachets of shampoo to the rock bottom pricing that we have seen in the telecom industry.

How do you blend innovation and investment?

It is critical to look at companies which have innovation ingrained in their DNA. In this I don’t mean R & D spends which though important is not the be all and end all of the process of innovation.

Are the companies that one invests in, capable of coming up with disruptive technologies and processes which could change the rules of the game. Reliance made it to the list for the way it is rewriting the rules of the retailing industry in India.
In the current world of higher food prices Walmart has managed to bring food prices down. How did they manage it? Most cereal makers put their product in large sized boxes ( Compare a Kellogs box with the amount of cornflakes in it). They do this to enable greater shelf space and branding. All Walmart did was promise the same amount of shelf space for their products but pushed mfgs to reduce box sizes. This reduced not just the amount spent on paperboard but also reduced the transportation costs as more boxes got fitted in the same trailer.
A latter post on how innovation has kept the US economy going and reinventing itself.


Mahendra Naik said...

Interesting post. Ninad, please take a look at Tata Elxsi as a prime example of an innovator company. They are into making the tiny computers which comprise almost 60% of the cost of cars in developed nations. Also they have a unique technolgy whereby the beam of light cast by a car' headlamp bends with the curvature of the road. Source : An article in economic times.

jregaldie said...

I like very much your blog.

I coincide with you about the "teh black swam".

Congratulations for your blog and comments


Ninad Kunder said...

Hi Mahendra

I knew that Tata elxsi worked on areas like simulators but havent tracked the company so far.

Will spend time on the weekend and look into the company.



Ninad Kunder said...

Hi jregaldie

Thanks for your support