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Premji on innovation, creativity

By Manu A B in Mumbai
Last updated on: February 16, 2006 16:26 IST
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Wipro chairman Azim Premji. Photograph: Jewella C MirandaInnovation is a source of great excitement for Indian IT giant Wipro's chairman Azim Premji. In Mumbai at the Nasscom's India Leadership Forum on Thursday, the software czar spelt out where do big ideas come from and why innovation and creativity are imperative for growth.

The Wipro Centre of Excellence, with over 500 dedicated professionals, works on lean technology to software development, new ways of delivering business, and is striving towards creating intellectual properties in the wireless and mobile telephony segment, says Premji.

Wipro bagged 29 major deals in the last quarter: a result of innovation.

With the debate on blending creativity with engineering skills raging across the world, Premji cities the Chinese example where students are encouraged to go abroad to pursue courses in liberal arts.

One needs to think differently to survive in the globalised world. A good blend of creative people and engineers are essential to push growth, according to Premji.

Wipro has become the first company to develop an outsourcing model for remote infrastructure and remote business process outsourcing services. This robust growth will continue, says Premji.

Profits and innovation go hand in hand. He highlights that while the PBIT is 20 per cent for Indian companies, it is about 14 per cent for global IT biggies like Accenture and IBM. The IT world will be driven by people resources. The profit per person realisation is more for Indian companies, and thus Indian companies have an added advantage, he adds.

"We need to build more IT incubation hubs in India to drive innovation at a national level. The Wipro Centre of Excellence is constantly striving to add more value to existing services," he says.

So where do big ideas come from?

Premji says that big ideas often come from customers. Big ideas can emerge from constant interaction. . .  and several unsaid things can be elicited and developed making way for big innovations. Meaningful dialogues with customers will go along way in delivering excellent products. Services and products companies should look at this seriously, advocates Premji.

"We also need to have the courage to hire people who are from different work cultures and see to it that they grow in the organisation and are not pushed out in the long run."

However, he warns that complacency kills creativity. Complacency should be rooted out of all levels of management.

How different is innovation from creativity?

While innovation is 'doing' things differently, creativity is all about 'thinking' differently, says the Wipro boss. "Innovation is essentially the application of high creativity. It need not be restricted to just products, it applies to services, employee attitude and across all levels. Innovation is a fundamental mindset pursued seriously by an organisation. It is imperative to imbibe the culture of innovation."

"There is a need to include more people with a creative bend. India is known for its great art and literature. The same spirit must be incorporated in business and economics," he adds.

"Innovation is a spirit that evolves the mind, body and spirit. In other words, one has to do things which no one else has done before to create a better tomorrow," sums up Premji.

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Manu A B in Mumbai