Monday, June 15, 2009

Fifth India Innovation Summit '09- Day 1- Session-2

The second session was themed around- "Current Downturn and Innovative Solutions to the Dominant Concern". The opening remark came from Bhaskar Bhat, MD of Titan who quipped, " The economic downturn can be viewed as a economic Tsunami. Instead of having a carpet-bombing approach, its important to understand what’s our position in the economic tsunami and take appropriate measures." In his view, the key aspects are - assess your position, plan measures and execute to precision. Good companies do this well and tide over the bad times and are ready to take on the good times. Traditional economic analysis methods and approaches won't work. Need to deep dive, understand categories, their applicability to your business, cherry pick and then proceed.
The three speakers were:
  • C Ganesh Narayan, Executive Director, C Krishnaiah Chetty & Sons
  • Hameed Bhombal, Sr. President & CTO, Aditya Birla Group
  • Jawahar Malhotra, CTO & VP, Yahoo India Research and Development

Ganesh started with providing an overview of the jewellery industry, a high end luxury retail business which is unorganized and is ruled by emotional purchases. It has moved from purchases for occasions to portfolio divestment. During recessionary times when spending is low, purchases are postpone, cash flow dries-up, there are specific areas of focus, these are: Leveraging CRM; eTailing is not enough as customer needs to touch, feel and wear; Paying more attention to customer desires and invest in employee training.

Offering an R&D view to Manufacturing Innovations, Hameed opined that with recession comes newer opportunities in having a fundamental look at the processes and practices. Further low carbon initiatives are an imperative and provide a lot of business opportunities. This calls for investment in R&D. The Group has built a new Science and Technology Centre to address the same.

Jawahar from the Yahoo Research spoke about the need to straighten the fundamentals. He pointed out that the long term general trend is the movement of revenues from traditional publishing to online publishing. But in the downturn, the revenues are reduced. This calls for online publishers, like Yahoo come up with innovative methods – business models, advertising etc. Some of these are: iPhone apps; Open Web; Open Social; and Cloud Computing (Applications/platforms as a service; Democratization of Grid; Hardware Optimization). Further there's ongoing research on newer pricing models, new methods to display; new ad formats and tapping into the Web 2.0.

Quite an enriching session just before the close of the day.

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