Why innovation is critical to success?

The following was a short essay I had prepared for one of my b-school applications. Sounds pretty right in the end, doesn’t it?

“Let me get straight to my line of work in telecommunications consulting. With every passing day, telecom companies face huge challenges of meeting the exponentially increasing data and service demands and the consumer expectation of receiving these services at all touch points, whether it is at home, office, while travelling or on holiday, at all times at competitive pricing across all their devices. This data “explosion” means huge investments on operations, network and storage for the companies facing little revenue growth. How can such a business model of continuously providing more at the same prices be sustainable? How can competitors compete on quality when the basic business requirements are increasingly difficult to catch up with? This is why innovation becomes critical –- the need for new efficient network technologies which can transfer data faster than ever, and meet coverage and quality challenges at minimum cost; for innovative personalized price plans to squeeze maximum value; for innovative storage models which not only handle larger data but also provide value from the data via high-tech analytic solutions and in turn create additional monitory opportunities. Simply put, today, telecom companies have the choice to either innovate constantly or perish.

So innovation is definitely necessary, but does one apply blind faith to it then? It can all go wrong if you just keep jumping from one idea to another for the sake of it without really implementing any. It should also be seen differently from “imitation -– just because a competitor became successful with an idea, doesn’’t mean you will too! (Google‘’s obsession with Google+ after the success of Facebook is a classic example) Also, while constant product “improvement” is definitely innovation in its own way, it should be contrasted from “re-packaging” which doesn’’t really add any value. Innovation, therefore, is one of the most critical success tools, but it is to be implemented with great discretion for the risks involved can just as easily lead to failure.”

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Looking beyond the AIEEE

Tonight I share an article where my father expresses his views on a situation many Indian parents end up facing  –
9th June, 2012 11:44pm
 
I was half sleep when a text message woke me up. It read – ‘AIEEE 4111′. It was from one of my ex-colleagues whose son was aspiring for an admission to one of the top engineering institutes in the country. The rank, 4111, was a really excellent one  in the AIEEE exam, considering especially that more than a million candidates appeared for the exam in May. In fact, what makes this rank even more remarkable is the fact that the first 3000 – 3500 students may not even join any of the institutes available through the exam as they would be most probably be joining one of the IITs or dropping an year to improve their JEE ranks the next year.
 
The message made me wonder about 2 other students, whose parents I knew.  I informed them immediately that the AIEEE results were out. On calling them the next day, I found out that one of them had secured a rank of 45,000 while other had ranked around 2,35,000. Creditable as they were, such is the cut-throat level of competition for the limited number of seats, that they would normally not be enough to make it to one of the  nationally reputed top engineering colleges.
 
The first question that came to my mind was – What should be the next step for these two students ? What if one of them was my own son or daughter? Would I consider this a failure on my child’s part? Sadly, in India, most parents do. What they need to realize is that this is definitely not the end of the road; but rather a great chance to explore other exciting education and career opportunities. We have, over the years ended up building a regime of expectations from our children, where the two most direct routes are –
 
Engineer -> MBA
 or
Doctor
 
In my view, only if a student is really interested in the various engineering courses offered, has appeared for other entrance exams like the BITSAT or State entrance exams and scored well, should he/she opt for pursuing the engineering route. To me, it makes no sense what so ever, in both settling for a mediocre institute or in bluntly keeping on banging for an engineering birth by dropping an year (and possibly more). I would rather sit with my son; discuss our options; take a hard, long look at his interests; and pursue a field that would play to his confidence.
 
I would not really go into great detail, but here are some of the opportunities (assuming a science background in the +2 years of school) you might want to explore if you find yourself in a similar situation –
 
-A direct officer level entry to the Indian Navy (Logistics Branch) or a Marine engineering degree through the navy or otherwise.
-Look for an esteemed career with the Indian Army beginning at the NDA
-If you have a penchant to sketching or design, try for an admission to one of the top architecture or fashion design institutes.
-Take up an under-graduate course in Hotel Management or Business.
-Take up a course in sciences if your child has a dream for it. Remember, there are always excellent opportunities available in R&D, especially in bio-sciences, pharmaceuticals, space, etc.
-There are several courses very similar in structure and opportunities to engineering like BSc (IT), BSc (Computer Sciences). One could always pursue them even whilst preparing for another attempt at the engineering exams, instead of entirely wasting an year.
The list is of course long, and great success always follows wherever passion and hard-work are. I can only advise and eventual success depends upon the individual’s drive. In the end, it is of utmost importance to understand the psyche of each individual student and providing the right counsel.
– Sudhir Kumar Pant
With over 30 years of experience in IT & Telecommunication, Sudhir is one of the founder members of the safalmantra initiative and the prime visionary behind the idea. Over the years, his counsel and initiative has been helpful to many young students looking for the best career option.

Ted Mosby – Architect !

Link

That idiom literally translates to “To reform and begin again, a fresh start” and that is exactly how I feel about tonight. There had been far too many weekends, endless Saturday nights which had been wasted in a drunken haze, or as it was justified, in stress-busting. But this was a unique Saturday, one which hopefully signifies a change for the good.

To begin with, it was an early morning start. Believe me, that itself is a rarity, and I’m not talking only about the weekends, I usually start really late on all days, I really do. It was followed by a very useful couple of hours of studying for the upcoming GMAT. A massive three course “Marathi Thali” was for lunch. Now, I’m not a big fan of Marathi cuisine, but the food at Shreyas (here in Pune) was sufficiently satisfying for it to be mentioned here. Anyways, on my way back, I got into this discussion with my friend, on the pros and cons of getting an MBA degree; knowing that we were both of the consensus that eventually even an MBA would lead to a similar “White-collared labour” situation. He brought up the necessity for working on one’s own projects in order to break the shackles and as one thing led to another; I was discussing my father’s persistent habit of bringing up start-up ideas and then not really going anywhere with them. The stage where my dad would always give up would be at deciding names for the supposed website for his plans.

I had been discussing a couple of my “vices” sometime back. I guess another would have to be the fact that I’m usually very fickle. It’s like; I would suddenly have this great zeal for working towards something, and then another morning I could wake up, and be totally uninterested. I’ve always been like that, and maybe I get that from my dad. So here I was, fresh from this discussion on making my own way, and about how my father had always encouraged me at it, yet there was nothing to show from either of us. I came home, and started researching the various options for creating a website. I finally chose godaddy for the hosting. And so here I am tonight, the owner of my very first website – www.safalmantra.com Yes it is work in progress, but I really hope it works out.

My dad was really excited with the prospect of us finally getting started with something, and I would be talking more about the idea behind safalmantra in my coming posts. For now, let’s just say, it’s an honest attempt at helping the youth discover the best options towards a better tomorrow.

As promised, I will also be updating the Causes section highlighting the need for responsible drinking with a special mention of groups that have been actively working towards the same.

Happy reading !