Quick Grabs – How to be ahead of disruptions

Rajan Anandan, MD, Google India introduced the session on a rather poignant note. Ten years from now, in 2025, he said, when NASSCOM stages NILF yet again, there’s a strong possibility that only 5 percent of those sitting at the plenary, would still be in their present organizations. He said this to impress upon the fact that we are stepping into a world which is increasingly getting disruptive. In such an environment it will not suffice to simply know this, but to comprehend the exact nature of this disruption, and where exactly is its source.
Quick Grabs - How to be ahead of disruptions

Disruption will happen in waves. Perhaps, and arguably, we can miss the one big wave, but the minute this miss continues into the second big wave, the path to decline is inevitable. If this “trend” continues well into the third wave, one is pretty much out of the game. For instance, if you missed mobile, you could have caught on with social. But if you have missed mobile and social, then you are pretty much out of the race. He cited.

By no stretch of imagination must it be construed that it is easy for large successful companies to disrupt. Global behemoths like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Cognizant also find it really hard to do so. To constantly innovate and be ahead of the disruption curve. Size, the largeness of it, in its wake also brings in a sense of denial, when it is faced with disruptive innovation. The choice. Should we, or not? Most of disruptive innovation comes from outside of the organisations. Best of breed companies have an open mindset and embrace disruption.

SMAC – Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud is what we talk about at NASSCOM

On an average, in India, 100 million users spend 3 hours on mobile every day. At any given point in time there’d be about 17 apps open on their phone.

How to create disruption or stay ahead of it and capture it?

Ken Segall, Former Creative Director, Apple

Rajan introduced the speaker aptly >> Which was Apple’s best marketing campaign – Think Different. Ken is the one behind it. Apple’s Creative director. He was at Apple for 12 years, and worked closely with Steve Jobs. Ken knows how to build a brand worth 700 bn $ of market cap.

Ken – The power of simple

On a lighter vein, he said “this is my first appearance in India so you get to watch a historic moment because of me”, which had the audience in titters.

He says he is an “advertising guy”, and wouldn’t necessarily know all the new things that others possibly know of.

Simplicity is the greatest force of disruption. Apple products have stood out and stood the test of time, simply because they were simple.

The Simplicity Principle

  • Simplicity builds love – Steve always said, expect some bad to happen, but if you have earned the customer’s love, they are likely to stand by you and not be in a hurry to walk away. Ken went on to give an example. When iPhone 4 came out, the press created an issue about its design. Steve Jobs addressed a press conference, and delicately touched on this whole “love angle.” While watching Steve in action, at that time Ken thought, “hmm a bit heavy on love!” Ken played the video for benefit of the audience and there you are Steve Jobs the man himself enthralling the audience with his spiel. We are not perfect…Phones aren’t perfect. We love our users so much…we love our users (a deep emphasis)…we really love them! The campaign said – It feels good to be loved. But then again, he was Steve Jobs and so he could pull it off.
  • Need to Control. One must not get carried away with the product. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things, as Steve used to famously say.
  • Doing fewer things better. Product proliferation. At times, companies cannot resist overdoing it when they crack a product. Dell has 26 models, HP has 41 models. In comparison, Apple has 2 laptop models. If you are in a biz where it is possible to give choices, then there are smart ways to getting around. How about a tablet? – Samsung has 22 models, Apple has 3!
  • Steve’s challenge after returning to apple. At that time, Apple had 20 different products and it was killing the entire product line. Steve was adamant as always. “Instead of 27 products, Apple is now going to make only 4 things – 4 world-class leading products.” This in many ways led to Apple of the future… simple, sleek, expensive. As we know today.
  • “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add but when there is nothing left to remove” – Antoine deSaite. This quote encapsulates all that needs to be said.
  • Names Matter: It is helpful to have a good simpler name. HP for instance, has a lot of different names like Pavalion etc. At times, it becomes difficult to relate to. ASUS has difficult names for its laptops –Transformer book T1ooTa, K200Ma, Asus Chromebook etc. In comparison, Apple names are – Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, imac, imac pro, to drive home the point.
  • Keep it small: If you exhibit behavioral patterns of big biz, you sweat pretty quickly. Steve liked to run Apple like a small company. “You know how many committees we have at Apple? Zero! We are organized like a startup, Steve always emphasized.
  • Being simple isn’t simple. Actually, being complicated is simple. If you don’t do anything to be simple, things will get complicated. Steve was a proponent of great ideas, just as much as he was also a strong supporter of simplicity. He was quite simply very good at both.
  • Simplicity is the ultimate competitive weapon. It is what separated Apple from the pack. Going back to Mac until now. There are always ways to simplify.

“Simple can be harder…can move mountains” – Ken’s fav quote of Steve


- How does Apple end up disrupting an industry, music for instance?

Apple’s revelation to music was, let music travel with you like a personal computer. Then it goes behind that idea, until it perfects it.

Jeremy Burton

Rajan introduced the topic as: Software is eating the world vs. software defined world. Software is becoming more and more pervasive. Ever more.

Software is redefining the world – certainly! Software is eating the world - maybe.

A video was showcased. How it would be to claim insurance in future. Through an app (futuristic) that tracks the accident location, captures accident photos and details through a drone, and sends a tow truck and a spare car to retrieve the salvage; vs another guy whose car got hit too in the same accident, yet continues to struggle with even reaching the insurance company guys on phone.

The need to deeply understand the profound impact of mobile computing. You shouldn’t be in the room today if you don’t! But have you truly internalized this? Mobile devices, sensors and their interactions.

Get back into software development – FAST! Most companies haven’t re-written their software in 10 years. He gave the example of Tesla cars, what it did to the automobile industry is what Apple did to mobile phones. Revolutionize the industry in which one operates.

  • Few decades back, we did not learn software the way they are built today. Just like in 10 – 15 years it would have changed radically, yet again.
  • BBVA CEO says – “Banks need to take on Amazon and Google… or Die…”. Jeremy said this is the pace of change that one is expected to keep pace with. Not just CIOs but CEOs too need to stress upon taking on the IT giants.
  • You must drive your own digital transformation – don’t depend on the IT guys alone to build a software.

Your ability to make sense of 1000X more data will define future success. He harped on the need to get into data science, in order to distinguish from competition and create a competitive advantage.

Malcolm Frank, Executive VP, Strategy & Marketing, Cognizant

Rajan introduced Cognizant as a company that continues to amaze, grow, grow and grow. One company that’s been able to stay ahead of disruptive trends – its Cognizant. Malcolm has been with Cognizant since 2005 – leads strategy and marketing. He is also the co-author of Code Halos.

Spoke on: Monetizing the Internet of Things: Extracting value from the Connectivity Opportunity.

He showed a picture of a study table, and asked, what’s it worth? But that’s no longer an easy question?  Should one figure out the value of physical table or the virtual table, would be the obvious retort. So what is really the value of the virtual?

  • Six companies, in 10 years, created $1 tr market value – Amazon, Google, Pandora, Netflix, Facebook, Apple  – they all did it with Code Halos.
  • UBER – 41mn $ market cap … founded in 2009… vs General Motors $53 mn worth market cap… Makes us ponder – is it a company or a market – or both? Is it a product or an industry – or both?
    • Example – Protests by European taxi drivers backfired when Uber reported they saw record signups in a day after the protest
    • Everything can and should have a Code Halo around it. He emphasized.

Why all this matters? The coming of Digital Build-out.

  • Digital Economy – The burst of technical innovation is yet happening circa 1985 to 2015
  • We have only just begun this digital process. The coming of the digital build-out phase.
  • We know about the G7 nations – Which are the countries that will be the D7? (Digital 7) … Said India is surely is poised to be there in D7, but it will require a lot of hard work for all the countries who ultimately make it to this coveted group.

Google’s revenues depend on search. Have you thought of getting disrupted by new technology? It was posed to Rajan.

Rajan: What generally happens with disruptive innovation is that it doesn’t go away instantly, but its growth gets taken over by something else. There was Google and then Facebook came into the social space, yet it had to spend $19 bn to buy Whatsapp. So old tech doesn’t go away completely, so quickly, but growth gets stalled, as new platforms take over. How do you make sure you get to the new thing without losing some millions of dollars due to delay, is what will differentiate the best.

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