Innovation : Lessons from the Web, Google and iPod for Indian companies

Stephen ManallackThree of the most outstanding innovations of recent years (the web, Google and iPod) share three qualities. These qualities have much relevance to Indian business as it grapples with the challenge of innovating for long-term success.

Each provide simple user interfaces, each reuses existing information and each was created by a small group of people, not high-powered and slow-moving committees or casts of thousands.

The lesson for businesses wanting to innovate is clear, according to Steven Berlin Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good for You , "These three innovations make existing information easier to find and organise", and he points out that none of them created something completely new — they were "innovative recyclers" in a way.

The challenge for most successful businesses is to keep the innovative qualities and agility of a start up when it comes to introducing new products and improving old ones.

The leading innovative companies identified by the Wharton Business School are Apple, 3M, Microsoft, GE, Sony, Dell, IBM, Google, Procter and Gamble, Nokia, Virgin, Samsung, Wal-Mart, Toyota, eBay, Intel, Amazon, Ideo, Starbucks and BMW. Wharton combines with Indian giant Infosys to present annual "Business Transformation Awards".

There is a warning for potential innovators and it comes from Jim Andrew, head, innovation, at the Boston Consulting Group, "Companies sometimes fail to measure and manage innovation, but that is a mistake that can be avoided. To sum up, you've got to measure inputs, outputs and process performance."