Saturday, December 2, 2006

Yet another blog on innovation?

What is this blog about? Well you might ask: this blogosphere of ours is already thick with treatises on innovation. Virtual forests have been felled to explore this topic in every conceivable way and from every possible angle. Can anything, well, innovative, be said on innovation? Read on and decide for yourself.

Developing Innovation is dedicated to exploring software innovation in developing countries. I've been interested in technology adoption and software for a while. As an Indian, I've followed the technology outsourcing boom, and the creation of world class IT services companies such as Infosys and Satyam in the last decade. More recently, I've observed innovative software solutions developed in India for the local market. In many instances, the new technology is more advanced than that available in the US (e.g. in the areas of mobile and wireless). Yet, the vast majority of Indians remain unaware of technology and its potential to improve their lives. How to reconcile this "leapfrogging" adoption on one hand, and a complete lack of awareness on the other?

Is this an opportunity for software innovators to step into the breach? Or is India decades away from using technology in any broad-based manner? Are there similarities between India and other developing countries in the way technology can be built and used? Can those synergies be leveraged to go after ever-larger markets if your own market is too small for you to grow? The answer to all the questions, I believe, is a resounding YES. I think it is an opportunity: a very large opportunity. Here are a couple of reasons why (and I'll expand on these in future posts):
  • High Growth: Emerging economies are undergoing higher rates of growth than they have in 50 years.
  • Demographics: Developing countries are generally younger and more open to technological innovation.
  • Greenfield Opportunity: Current software investment in most emerging economies is negligible.
  • Local requirements: In many cases, the requirements for software products in the developing world are substantially different than those in the developed world. Not just product features, but also pricing and delivery models.