Monday, February 7, 2011

Open innovation India

Are Indian companies ready for open innovation?

Multinational companies (MNCs) which are making India their second home have brought in the culture of open innovation here. Companies like Xerox, P&G, and General Mills are already perusing open innovation aggressively in India. Indian companies like Tata, Mahindra & Mahindra, Future Group and Biocon are not far behind and are already engaging with employees, vendors and customers to co-create.

While companies in the west suffered from Not Invented Here syndrome (NIH) and are working to get over it. Many (not all) Indian companies suffer from Why Invent (WI) syndrome; good news is - it is a declining tribe!

There is a bigger shift in the making. With the world’s focus shifting to Asia, the responsibility of getting innovation done is also tagging along. And when that happens, local companies are joining the bandwagon, for competitive reasons. In addition Open Innovation in Service industry and benefits of incremental innovation are getting quite an attention for ROI reasons.

Some select Indian companies are quick to realize that there is a lead time needed to get into the culture of open innovation and co-creation. Companies with this foresight probably will dictate the landscape of domain leaders and the followers in this decade.

Are Indian innovators ready for open innovation?

Over the years Indians have becoming more aware of their personal intellectual capital in a global context, and connectivity is providing insight into the markets with buying powers – in turn making Indians an irresistible choice for companies hungry for brainpower.

So does this mean Indians are turning the table around on the innovation front? The answer is ‘not yet’. Indians are highly social and love to share, however they shy away when there is a probability of failure, specifically in a non business environment like creativity and innovation. Though innovativeness of Indians is not disputable, I am specifically pointing to the volume and the impact density.

The pace at which the knowledge economy is growing, however, clearly indicates that a certain percentage (which accounts for quite a volume) is moving to the next orbit – and becoming hard core innovators. Not to forget a Jugaad mindset which has produced millions of innovations in India over the years. With the market needs beyond Jugaad – there comes the supply beyond Jugaad.

There is a huge opportunity lining up for Indian innovators both globally and locally. And the innovators who open up to the collaborative innovation will find themselves rewarded - both intellectually and monetarily.

ideaken is leading the service platform space for open innovation and co-creation in India. Facilitating open innovation and co-creation for companies across the world and India, and innovators on board from more than 160 countries, thousands of them from India.


  1. As a non Indian I am struck by the sheer diversity of India from a cultural, geographical and economic perspective. This means that there are many more opportunities for different solutions to problems to emerge. Perhaps the field of business is more homogeneous but in the field of social enterpreneurship my experience of India is that is has as much to give as it has received in the past. The same is true for Bangladesh with the flagship enterprise being the Grameen Bank.

    I am working on looking at how to scale up and adapt the ideas that have come out of Kerala on end of life care - in the community. The relication of their approach both in other parts of India and in other parts of the world is a great example of open innovation in India

  2. Talk about impractical, all that diatribe and I didn't answer your question. Yes I do think that India's innovators will and are emerging. Uust one example is what I think is one of the greatest advances in personal computers is the USB, invented by Ajay Bhatt.
    Posted by Frank Attwood

  3. Frank Attwood • Like so many nations, I would imagine that India's national polices, as well as it's philosophy's more or less, subscribe to the traditional linear process of innovation. Out of the box thinking seems to be almost nonexistent and even discouraged in countries like India's, who's academic institutions are turning out great scholars, engineers and scientists in great numbers. I think most country's thinking is that simply more education and research will automatically lead to the development and commercialization of new products for the market.
    This may not apply entirely today, as it was stated over 120 years ago, but this is one inventor's perspective on his, 'practical' science:
    "I am not a scientific man. I am an inventor. There is a difference between them. A scientific man busies himself with a theory. He is absolutely impractical. An inventor is essentially practical. They are both of such different casts of mind that you rarely find the two together. I do not think they can very well co-exist in one man. As soon as I find that something I am investigating does not lead to practical results, I do not pursue it as a theory. The scientific man would be content to go on and study it up purely s a theory. I do not care for that." -Thomas Edison 1888 from the 'Brooklyn Citizen'. Right or wrong, Edison was never shy about giving his opinion. :)

  4. Absolutely they are, in fact one of the largest companies in India is already pursuing this as a standard for their innovation needs in the future?

  5. nice write up underlining the subtleties of the Indian mind set, Why Invent is a syndrome that must be overcome by the home grown Indian companies. At the time when everyone is looking at the potential in Asia, we must make it count. What better way than resorting to open innovation.

  6. Hi Jayesh, thought-provoking post.

    In addition to the the factors you mentioned, I feel there's possibly another one at work which might be a deterrent to open innovation - which is, in a way, the opposite of "not invented here".

    In my work as an innovation consultant, I have often found people hesitant to share too much detail about "their idea". This seems to be due to an underlying fear that someone else might grab credit for your idea. This could be a function of a scarcity-mindset and/or an inherent lack of trust between different functional/hierarchical or other silos within organizations.

    Having said that, once its established (sunk in?) that a collaborative approach is a win-win for all concerned, I have seen the same teams come up with brilliant and path-breaking new approaches to their challenges.

    I guess all this is symptomatic of some inherent insecurity at both the individual and systemic levels. I'd be willing to lay a bet on the fact that with India now becoming increasingly secure and confident in its own identity as a nation, we are likely to see a surge of innovation. Watch out world!

  7. I have found the innovators i have worked with from India to be superb,and to have actually resulted in some of the thinking that lead to our client paying for our recommendations. I would encourage the talent in India to definitely get involved in some form of innovation process.

  8. Nice post, must watch Vijay Govindraj at

  9. Peter Hewkin • It is certainly on the radar of global blue chips .. CfBI's Open Innovation Practitioners Consortium is planning a meeting in May in Holland focussing on 'OI beyond the first world'. Members such as Nokia, Friesland, Citrix and Solvay are contributing their insights from OI forays into Africa, India and the Pacific Rim

  10. It is good to hear testimonials about the quality of talent in India, but in my opinion, Indian firms lack the drive to innovate and an innovation framework to be integrated innovation strategy into their corporate strategies. OI can be absolutely powerful in a place like India, where there are plenty of ideas originating and flowing from a number of sources, but we need to have the classic structure of a 'funnel' in the 1st place. Porosity of the funnel could be altered according to the needs, OI has its implications and pursuing only OI isn't good either.

  11. Thanks for such a wonderful post!! The future for companies seems to be a "Battle of Innovations". If i bring-in a slightly different view point, i am indeed glad to see the change in education system in India emphasizing on the process of Innovation. So, i believe the Future Generations will be even more equipped to take India to a greater heights. While it is very difficult to predict the future, i must appreciate the corporate initiatives to improve the creativity among their staff alongside contributing significantly to the education system as well.
    The question would be: Tough the intentions are right, Action remains a concern. Will there be experts within India to guide through the complete process to build it for masses?

  12. Very well written. I heard about this blog from one of my member friend on