Innovation is now more critical than ever; if an organisation doesn’t continually innovate, it will swiftly become irrelevant and, ultimately, cease to exist
These are interesting as well as challenging times. The need to measure up to the new benchmark – Industry 4.0 – has set the realisation about the criticality of innovation. Enterprises are focusing on the need to innovate so that they can create differentiation/disruption in the industry, penetrate new markets, lay the path for a long-term competitive edge, capitalise on emerging trends, protect their market shares against new entrants, etc. Industry leaders who have withstood the challenges brought about by disruption acknowledge that without innovation, even core competencies can turn into core rigidities. At the same time, they profess that not only do they need disruptive innovation, but also an innovation culture that can ensure their organisations stay relevant.
Alok Agrawal, managing partner of The Growth Labs, is on a mission to make every business great through innovation and disruption by building innovative corporations and robust business models for startups. He feels that disruption not only poses a threat to existing operations but also presents a tremendous opportunity to grow if the right technology is harnessed. For one who, in earlier roles as Group COO of Network 18 Media & Investment and CEO–Zee Media, launched six new channels and OTT platforms and built digital businesses, the art of simplifying complex issues comes naturally.
“Innovation is not merely confined to products and services. The practice of innovative thought must permeate the business as a whole; companies ought to be continually alert to opportunities to improve all aspects of business operations,” says Agrawal. He thinks that innovation, like evolution, is the key to survival; when businesses cease to innovate, they cease to exist.
According to Agrawal, the culture of innovation comes automatically if companies are attuned to customers’ needs. “In the process of taking care of those needs, companies will have to innovate,” he adds. “The world is changing rapidly with the advent of technology and a newfound zeal for entrepreneurship. The combination of the two is creating strong disruption in the way people live their lives and shape their businesses.” Technology is automating almost everything that humans can do; it is connecting people in ways never imagined possible. Agrawal, an IIT Kanpur alumnus, says that traditional means are no longer relevant for business to grow.