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.”

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 !

Analysis of an Argument

This is the first of the series of the GMAT writing posts I’m planning. This is how the official GMAT website defines the “Analysis of an Argument” question –

In this section, you will be asked to write a critique of the argument presented. You are NOT being asked to present your own views on the subject.

Here’s the argument I will be analyzing in this first post –

Most companies would agree that as the risk of physical injury occurring on the job increases, the wages paid to employees should also increase. Hence it makes financial sense for employers to make the workplace safer: they could thus reduce their payroll expenses and save money.

Here goes my analysis. Hope it reads well !

“Brute force is not for the clever”

While the argument provided fairly evaluates the cost of physical injury; the underlying assumption that financial compensation is a linear increasing function of the physical nature of one’s work seems extraordinarily misplaced; and not just in today’s corporate-driven world, but throughout human history.

Why, if this were to be true, it would have been the invalids who carried the rock under the unforgiving sun, those who cemented the bricks and welded the steel while dandling on thin ropes, during the construction of some of the most magnificent wonders of the world, who would have walked away with wealth and fame beyond imagination as a result of their hardships; and not the likes of say, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri , Adrian Smith or Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who simply dreamt of, planned  and designed the Taj Mahal, The Burj Khalifa tower, and the London sewer system, respectively. The creativity of one’s mind, it has to be admitted, has proven to reward much more, than the strength of one’s muscles. Therefore, it becomes extremely difficult to fathom that a potentially injury involving line of work is valued as highly as is suggested here.

On the other hand, organizations, especially those closely involved with physically challenging work environments, heavy machinery and manufacturing, do end up paying a hefty sum towards insurance premiums, covering for accident hazards, damages, employee claims and what not. The annual insurance bills can in fact attain parity levels with the annual payroll at some of the more strategically inclined modern industries. This is where, I believe, safety and risk-aversion measures have a crucial role to play in cutting down costs.

Carefully planned workplaces, which follow stringent safety norms and regular disaster management drills will not only prevent physical injury, but also go a long way in preserving a companies’ fixed assets – its machinery and infrastructure, whilst also drastically cutting down the insurance bills. No wonder then, that today, almost every organization around the world is going earthquake proof, making infrastructure and machinery investment decisions after exhaustive research, and working closely with skilled safety and disaster management experts. Avoiding damages, it seems, is the best way to cut losses. After all, the less you lose, the more you make !