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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Once Upon a School

Design thinking at its best to solve social problem.

Watch Dave's wish video on
and learn how design thinking has made school fun & may be you guys can do similar stuff & win TED 2009 passes.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

products inspired from windows icons

P&G's Cultural Transformation Using Design Thinking

Check out this link

learn how P&G is focusing on using Design Thinking to transform its culture & coming out with innovative products. Amazing article. must read.

Photo Source: & google Images

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mobile Banking Innovation

Check these stats: It costs more than Rs. 100 a customer to bank for each physical transaction & more than Rs. 15 for each ATM transaction & 70% of India's 1.06 bn population does not have access to bank

Recently Mint newspaper published an article on the new mobile banking service being test run in Uttam nagar in Delhi. The technology is provided by Eko India financial services pvt ltd. and it allows Airtel users(currently) to access their bank accounts(Centurion Bank of Punjab)and make transactions using their mobile phone.
Now how does it work and what is the value to consumer, bank and local retailer acting as distribution channel.
Every locality has Eko relationship officers who act as salesman and convince user/bank account holders to avail the service. The user of the service can deposit/withdraw cash just by sending SMS. He then deposits/withdraws cash from the local retailer who acts as a distribution channel between bank and consumer & is known as Eko Cash points. After the transaction the user gets a SMS from Eko confirming the transaction. For his services, the local retailer is paid cash per transactions and the Eko relationship Officers are remunerated on the basis of customer acquisition.
Inorder to secure the process just like that of ATM, the user is also given signature booklets which has ten digit number to be given while making a transaction. The mobile phone number acts as the account number. The user can deposit any amount of cash & withdraw easily too just by using his mobile.
The benefit for banks is that it cuts down the cost of setting up an Atm and this is also branchless banking. The banks can thus allow very low/no minimum limit account to be opened which customers from bottom of the pyramid can use which ultimately means huge customer base
for banks.
(Statistics Source: Mint Newspaper)


Monday, July 21, 2008

Retail Boom or Bomb?

Lets start with some very important stats that make us say “ Retail in India is the sunshine sector” “its booming ….”

Current Indian Retail Market size: $ 332.8 Bn (Rs. 1,330,000 Cr.)

Growth Rate: 10.8% p.a.

Share of Organized Retail : $ 19.6 Bn (Rs. 78,300 Cr.)

Growth Rate: 42.40% p.a.

Organized Retail Market Share: just 5.90%

Organized Retail 2010: $ 57.5 Bn (Rs. 23,0000 Cr.)

Market Share by 2010: 13%

Wow the above stats are really wonderful & positive about the Indian retail sector.

But I always felt as to how true will these be say in 2010? The figures are based on the current pattern of consumer profile or are the changing Indian demographics taken into account?

Read many articles in newspapers and found some more stats for the consumer profile, here we go:

Total number of retailers: 15 Mn

Urban-Rural Spending: 9:11 ratio

Rural India consumption of private retailers: 55%

Rural India Consumers: 720 Mn

Villages: 627,000

17% of these villages constitute 50 % of rural population & 60 % rural wealth

Population < style=""> 890 Mn.

Middle Class: 300 Mn

Salary > $ 19,500: 70 Mn

Salary > $ 19,500 by 2011: 140 Mn

Effective Consumers by 2011: 600 Mn

Well it’s very satisfactory to see the change in the Indian population which again reinstates the fact of it being booming.

We all are witness to the retail boom here, the malls are cropping up at every nook and corner, the city is slowly becoming “city of malls”! But will the malls actually survive, especially in this low margin driven industry?

Countries whose names come to the mind when it comes to successful retail history are USA & Japan.

They are successful because they have developed their own way of retailing formats. US is accustomed to having malls that are the size of a few football fields on the other hand Japan has retail formats which have the optimum utilization of space. Japan has shops which are "help your self types" (Konbini). Now isn’t that innovation?

India is still using the technique of following the leaders; we have companies whose business development teams explore various countries, see their formats, and set it up exactly the same way here.

Irony is that they are setting up stores for the customers here but looking at the outside world for assistance. US & Japan have developed their own formats based on their customer profile, then why are we not looking at our own customers to set up or evolve formats of our own.

This where the true opportunity lies! We have our huge customer base, all the money needed in the world at our disposal, but no unique retailing method of our own.

It is in a very nascent stage is Indian retailing, and to mature we have to soon inculcate what we call “innovative techniques” .

Might be sounding too critical in the article about the current Indian retail sector, but on the contrary I am very optimistic about it as it’s the perfect time to start truly exploring and innovating!

Dn't just wait, start to Innovate!


stats: NCAER (National Council of Applied Economic Research)

Efforts to make Innovation Index

National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts (NESTA) of U.K, a nonprofit organization that promotes innovation, is making efforts to come up with an Innovation Index, one that is Industry specific by 2010.
Now why need Innovation Index/metric when you can judge the state & performance of Innovation activity of one industry by looking at how much money is invested in Research & Development
activities or how much patents one industry holds which is measured by current metrics available.
In the article of Business Week it has been rightly mentioned that today Innovation cannot be judged solely by money in R&D or holding patents. An example of London's Financial services sector is given where in not much money is going into R&D & therefore if one measured Innovation through existing metrics then the conclusion will be that London financial services Sector is not innovating which cannot be the case as London's financial services sector lead the world in this sector.

So if we are saying that current metrics measuring Innovation on the basis of R&D and patents won are becoming obsolete than what all elements should be considered while developing an index of Innovation.
Inorder to answer this NESTA has launched a website
which is calling for Ideas such as What is Innovation and what elements constitutes Innovation.

Below is what I think should be the elements, to be used while Measuring Innovation.

1. Number of opportunities/problems noticed. By this I mean how many problems/opportunities a firm has noticed inorder to develop new innovative solutions & provide better value to consumers.

2. Number of failures a company/industry has given. Failing is the first step towards sucess & if a firm/ industry is in the business of Innovation it should fail & fail fast inorder to suceed. So I think failures also provide a great way to judge whether a firm/ industry is in the process of Innovation or not.

3. Has the firm/ industry made things/processes for consumers simple. Innovation can also mean simple because it is easy to understand for consumer. For eg: Windows operating system is said to be a innovation just because it is simple to understand and users were not required to punch codes. Simplicity in financial sectors would mean easy understanding of financial plans to a layman.
Yellow tail wines added simplicity & fun to wine drinking and created a new blue ocean. So simplicity should be one of the element of Innovation Index.

4. Utilisation of resources: Rate of Increase/decrease in productivity of resources due to Innovative activity to know whether the innovation activity has improved/ reduced the utilization of resources.

5. Personality of employees- Most of the Innovation is done by people who are visionaries & future thinkers. They are great observers, are extremely passionate, problem solvers as well as risk takers. So Innovation Index should judge the personality of employees in various industries to know whether most of them are visionaries & risk takers or not.

6. Customer Orientation- I have already mentioned that Innovation Index should look at whether firm/ industry has made things or processes simple for users but I would like to add that Innovation Index should also include element of Customer Orientation of an industry or a firm. How customer focused a firm really is. Does it listens to consumers, do they focus on complaints, feedback, do they co- create with customers, etc. In short are they customer focused or not.

These were some of the points that I think Innovation Index should Include & be judged when evaluating Innovation in different industries or firms.

Till Next Time
Keep Innovating

Neeraj Jain

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Harley Davidson Museum- Using Experiential Marketing Innovatively

Today, Business week has this story about Harley Davidson opening its museum at Milwaukee's south side. The article mentions that the museum will have artifacts such as the hogs owned by Elvis Presley & dare devil Evil knievel. It also mentions how the look of museum and all the Harley stuff inside will provide visitors unique experience. From a commercial point of view it has been mentioned that it is really not a marketing-driven project.
Mmmm....But is it really not a marketing driven project…i was thinking what is the purpose of having a museum of a product which already is being sold and can be seen on roads. Why would companies like Harley Davidson & Toyota motors have their museums and Can other companies learn something from it. I think the major reason why Harley Davidson is going in for a museum is to provide experience to visitors of a Harley living and what it means to be an Harley Rider… that the visitor (which very often young being accompanied by their parents or themselves) gets a real feel of Harley Experience & gets converted into a customer. Its known as experiential marketing.

Increasingly, I think companies need to focus on giving their potential customers a taste of what they are, whats their culture is, how their products look, what is it like to own their product.
I guess, this technique in future will be used by Companies recruiting in the sense that instead of recruiting company going to campus for placement interviews,
prospective candidates can visit companies, be there for a while, experience the culture by meeting employees, may be work on very short projects free, etc . In this way both parties (recruiting company & candidate) gain as in recruiting company gain by showcasing its real culture to candidates and checking whether candidates can perfectly fit and avoid attrition rates and the whole cycle of selecting & training new candidates again. The candidates will be much more clearer about whether or not the company is perfect for him/her.

Experiential Marketing is an old phenomena but its time that it is being used in some innovative ways to provide potential customers a chance to experience company's culture & product and turn them into customers and may be brand loyalists. And one last thing Harley will be charging $16 for adults and $10 for children (great stuff the company is marketing its products & instead of paying for Advertising/Promotional Activity, customers are charged for it!!!)

Till next time
keep Innovating
Neeraj Jain

Monday, July 14, 2008

Achieving Innovation

Innovation....the more I hear about it, the more interested I am in knowing what it is & how to achieve it.
Innovative strategies are being thought of inorder to deal with rising oil prices, to breakaway from clutter in Fmcg category inorder to stand out & be noticed, to have a business model to be profitable as early as possible in aviation business, to develop green products at the same time keeping their cost of production low, to develop highly cost effective water filter inorder to provide safe drinking water to people living in slums. Some of the companies which have focused on Innovation Include Whirlpool which allocated $45 million inorder to embed innovation into its culture & find ideas to develop new products. The revenue from innovative products for Whirlpool increased from $10 million during first year to $760 million at the end of 5 years. Southwest airline focused on business model Innovation and is still the preferred airline of many.
CEO’s of companies, Ministers, educational institutes & even U.S Presidential Candidates wants innovation to be prime focus inorder to provide new & unique solutions to present economic, social & business issues. Innovation is also being looked as the only way to create high value by Creating new products & services.
But how can we define Innovation or lets say what is Innovation. Well let me start by defining what to me is Innovation. To be simple, Innovation for me stands for Identifying Oppurtunity & designing products/services accordingly. Oppurtunity may be a scope to cut cost which means inviting kaizen/lean expert to implement lean tools to cut cost (Eg: GE six sigma drive), Opportunity may be a scope to enter new markets due to change in laws & thus expanding business, Opportunity may be able to notice customer's unmet needs and come up with new products & services (eg: Sony walkman). So again putting it simply, Innovation is simply looking for opportunity & seizing it. But as they say simple things are the most difficult to be achieved, so innovation which is of utmost importance to companies across the globe is difficult and is more sort of a mystery having dozens of methodologies to achieve it.

But after close examination, I have noticed that the following points should be followed inorder to Innovate:

1. Always be on the lookout for problems: One of the things I learnt from Kaizen is that, one should always be on the lookout for problems. A correct problem noticed provides a chance to innovate much faster. I think Innovative companies or Individuals focus a lot more on Identifying Problems of both customers and non customers with current services & products. A problem can be as simple as leaking pipes which gave Pidilite idea of making M-seal thus catering to new customers. Makers of OXO kitchen equipment noticed problems with current kitchenware and developed a beautifully designed OXO kitchen tools & housewares. Owners of Cirque du Soleil noticed problem with existing circuses & theaters & converted circus experience into amazing dramatical experience. Makers of yellow tail noticed the problems with existing wines as being complex & boresome to drink & made yellow tail, a simple & fun product. Tata’s noticed the problem faced by many Indian middle class families to travel using two wheelers in all seasons because of affordability factor & thus undertook the challenge of developing world’s cheapest car ‘NANO’. Forsche’s (Mumbai cab service only for ladies driven by ladies)owner Revathi Roy noticed the growing female workforce in the city was not being looked after well so she decided to start up with Forsche.
The underline point is Managers of the 21st century need to shift their role from that of just providing solutions to being excellent at noticing problems. A simple problem being noticed like huge waiting time at checkout counters of retail store can provide immense opportunity to retail manager to innovate & come up ideas to make business out there (eg: retail companies can sell space near checkout counters, etc)

2. Re-form/phrase your response regarding what you do: I have noticed that once you reform/rephrase the answer to the problem, new answers keep coming which can unlock immense opportunity.
For Eg: Let us take the example of future group. If 5 years ago someone asked what they are into, the response would have been that they are into fashion retail brand development & operation. But the moment guys at Pantloon re formed/re phrased their response that they are not just a fashion retail brand developer & operator but are into a business of building buisnesses at every touchpoint of customers, I think thats when they unlocked their true potential of opening many lines of business be it restautants, logistic company, mall development company, having ice cream parlors, future capital business, Telecom & IT, etc. Thats how pantloon shifted away from red ocean to blue ocean and are now into plethora of businesses existing under umbrella brand of FUTURE GROUP.

3. Know latest trends: I think one should know the latest trends(not just of one’s industry) which can serve to be useful in developing products/ service & finding that opportunity within your own industry. One of the latest trend recently was networking. Networking with customers & creating products became another big trend which involved customers directly into product/ service development process. Can this trend be used by fashion retailers to develop next season clothes, by networking with customers service providers can include customers to develop new services, restaurant owners netwoking with clients to develop new receipes thereby adding customers personal touch to whole process and making them have fun too........
Innovation will act as the only source for survival in 21st century. The above mentioned points will help companies to continuously innovate and be ahead of competition. But as one’s company says


So start the process of Innovation within your organisation.