C K Prahalad asks Indian businesses to look at new frontiers

How best can Indian business grow and keep up with future challenges? Prof C K Prahalad, Harvey C Fruehauf professor of business administration and professor of corporate strategy and international business, University of Michigan business school answered this at a special session of the 5th manufacturing summit organised by CII in Mumbai on 19 and 20 December.

Prahalad laid the foundation of his theory by pointing out that there was a marked shift in the management ecosystem, which is no longer just product-based but also service-based. Given the direct relation between manufacturing and consumer-centric developments that lead to globalisation, the focus should move towards manufacturing intelligent products which would also have the advantage of software integration.

He said that to sustain fast-paced growth in the Indian manufacturing sector and to sustain competitiveness in the global market, it is imperative to find more and more methods of innovation and not be satisfied with a follow up of the best practices in use till date.

While growth in the manufacturing industry was positive, much more could be achieved in the future especially with better skill development. "Networking and skill development are the key drivers for the future in the industry," he added.

Prahalad stressed the need to look at the 'next frontiers'. "As industrial boundaries are morphing - the convergence of telecom, IT and entertainment, for instance - manufacturers should take advantage of this trend", he said.

Drawing an analogy with a pacemaker, he said, "Imagine, if you could link it with a hospital, and get an SMS alert every time you have a sweet or a high-calorie diet, would be the right sort of value addition which would enable the company go further in the future. This is precisely where innovation comes in." What will  enable such a scenario is intelligent embedded software, connectivity and database analytics, he added.

"There's an opportunity to disrupt the old concept of manufacturing. In the pacemaker the value lies in what you surround it with - IT, database, analytics, said Prahalad.