Introduction Innovation is the art of coming with something totally new. The is the art of effectively executing an idea and making that a very effective commercial proposition. The need for such innovation is always there in India. By looking at several examples of innovation, we can also understand the scope of other products in the same category. And in services, the scope for innovation is even more present, than ever before. In particular, innovation has a big scope in many areas pertaining to new products. This does lead the discussion to focus on a) Innovation in new products b) Innovation in new services c) Innovation in products for the upper middle class and the rich d) Innovation in education and e) Innovation in products that do not exist today.
Innovation in new products The sachet product revolution is still a work in progress. The number of players is so huge that it has now become an industry by itself. There is virtually nothing that is not produced in sachet packets. This sparks a totally new dimension for such small packs. For example, even the giant multinationals are forced to come up with Re 5 packs that sell like hotcakes. The best example is the product called Bingo, that is somewhat spicy but a good alternative to Lays. This is from ITC, with huge pockets of money. However, there are some products that are sold only in particular markets and cater to local tastes. The best example of innovation here is the superbly marketed product from a Chennai-based company called Kalimark. Its product is a cool drink with a panner variant and it goes by the brand Vibro. While the smaller pack sells for Rs.13 in bottles, the bigger 600 mil costs Rs. 35/. It sells like hotcakes in Tamil Nadu and is a huge success. It reportedly sells in pockets of AP and Kerala as well. It also has a different type of soft drink called Bovonto, which is a good local brand. There is a tremendous scope for a lemon variant and even an apple variant of the same Bovonto, through brand extension. The scope for low-cost local brands is very high. In fact, there are too many local brands laughing all the way to the bank, since their overheads are less.
Innovation in new services Only this evening, this author happened to watch a Youtube video of a guy who sells a chappati prepared fresh in the customer's presence for just Rs. 5/- in the R.S. Puram area of Coimbatore city. This is a superb city that has always innovated in new products and services. The number of players who sell the evening snacks for Rs5 apiece, without any re-heating of the oil is so big in this city. In particular, there is one guy who has touched a turnover of 1.5 lakh rupees ( trade estimates) in the Saibaba colony area of this city. The Goli vada pav, which is produced through machines is another example. Already, machine-made dosa items are now available in several parts of India. The scope for the manufacture of so many machines that can make a huge variety of Indian products is so huge. In the meanwhile, the number of players who form a niche and milk that particular market with very reasonably priced products is growing day after day.
The superb multiplexes with very good comforts and tickets selling for around Rs. 150 through online booking for so many movies in air-conditioned comfort in the big cities is a good example of innovation. Any new restaurant that can a verity of new dishes in both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian categories is just waiting to happen. The scope for organic foods with medicinal benefits is now explained on Youtube in every Indian language. One has to just source these foods in bulk and start trading them in residential localities. People are bound to lap them up, once they understand the health benefits. The scope for innovation in marketing is so huge. Direct marketing is the best as it comes with zero overheads charged by the likes of Amazon.com. For smaller packs preferred by many customers, direct marketing to households is the best.
The scope is so huge that one has to just look around. The existing players need to continuously innovate. Once this happens, the "how" can be perfected to the maximum degree. On the Chennai to Bangalore Highway, shops scream "Kumbakonam Degree Coffee". This is a very good innovation. The coffee that gets prepared in this small town in Tamil Nadu, is now becoming a brand. Such innovations can continue without any limit. Food, clothing, household items and so on, have the highest scope for innovation.
Innovation in products for the upper middle class and the rich The Metro services Management of the major metro cities like Chennai, New Delhi, Bangalore, and Kolkatta can announce special summer packages. For example, even if it is priced at Rs.1000 for an individual with a 15-day validity, and "travel as you like" option for the individual customer, hundreds of thousands of people will simply keep moving around. Similarly, starting July and to end of August, when all schools and colleges function round the clock, the Indian Railways should announce a discount on all fares, across all classes. This will bring the crowd that normally flocks to the private buses that facilitate night journeys. It should be noted that the metro is still a service only for the rich. One should innovate with daily packs of just Rs.75/-. This will bring in the volumes and the Metro service can make money. The trick is to bring in the masses. If they are excluded, the volume game cannot happen. As regards cleanliness, the public should be immediately fined by staff on the spot. This will impose discipline as well.
The shopping malls can join together and offer an additional five percent discount, for bulk purchases. These should across products. For example, the discount should be 5% for a combined sales of Rs.5000 by a single customer, who needs to buy textiles, eat in a restaurant, and buy other goods like shoes. Once this pooling is done, the five players will also be able to push up sales. This needs to be advertised as a "combo offer". The burden is just 1% for each player, and this can be easily offset through increased sales.
Innovation in education The scope of innovation in schools and colleges is very good. Today, there are a number of teaching aids such as "Heymath" in CBSE schools and even in Government schools with private sector participation. Similarly, in the private sector deemed Universities such as the VIT University and the SRM University, for example, there is the American method of teaching, with the greatest facility for the student to experiment, think and learn. There are cutting-edge technologies that enable students to even think of entrepreneurship. In fact, the number of new innovations already in place is encouraging. The need for more innovations is very high. For example, there are so many schools that now give the coaching to tackle the vital JEE and the NEET examinations, right from the eighth standards. The students develop a big amount of out-of-the-box thinking abilities as most of the inputs are related to the analytical skills of a very tall order.
Innovation in products that do not even exist today Indian organizations need to think like Apple Computers. With every single innovation, the old product is far better than what was originally available. The nearest products in terms of technology are just not available. This only means that our IT software technologies have still not reached international levels. For example, for a while, the Indian player called Micromax had a huge amount of sales, with the products having a long-lasting charge facility. In came Xiomi from China at a cheaper cost. The latter is now dominating the market. There is no product from India that can compete with this product.
One still does not understand why industry-institute partnerships to achieve breakthroughs in such products is not possible. One understands that for the cleaning of human waste from septic tanks, there are robots. However, the cost is high. There is a tremendous scope for reducing the cost of such robots. The scope for innovation to manufacturing scooters that can cater to women is still very large. They necessarily need to be lightweight. The scope for innovation is there in every segment and the entire process should be structured to come up with a much better cheaper product. Chinese products will give Indian products a run for their money in so many areas. It is the right time to take stock of all such challenges and address them immediately.
Conclusion The time for the biggest possible innovations is right here. Only some possibilities have been discussed in some detail above. The scope is still very high and one needs to examine all that is possible, on a continuous basis.
Innovation is the driving force for future businesses. It is also said that innovation is the key to change established businesses dramatically. Today in our country there are many agencies which are funding the innovators and entrepreneurs and helping them in many ways to come out with their ideas and products. The young generation is aware of it and the outstanding students are leveraging these facilities for converting their ideas in reality.
I was reading about one student who, along with his team, has devised a mobile application platform for delivering the letters and parcels and other goods within the area of 30-40 km in Mumbai covering areas mainly in Central and North Mumbai and they are delivering the items from one household to other with a small charge of 40-50 rupees within the same day through a network of field workers who remain in their subareas and they all communicate with each other under that application and are successfully executing the job for which branded companies like blue dart etc charge not less than Rs 300.
This is really an innovative way invented by these students using the mobile online facility. So, there are many such success stories and they all are a result of an innovative approach by these entrepreneurs.