Identify your Competitive Moat

Just a thought – To stay competitive, an organization or an individual has to identify the ‘Competitive Moat’. The following framework will help:

Competitive Moat


Indian IT in 2013

The remarkable growth of the Indian IT outsourcing sector (Software Products, IT services, Engineering and R&D services, BPO/KPO services and Hardware) has not gone unsung. Since the inception of CMC in 1974, the sector has grown to USD 100 Billion in revenues. At the same time, the industry’s share of total Indian exports increased from 4% in FY1998 to about 25% in FY2012. This saga of achievement has also entered in Dilbert’s comic characters (Asok). As labor arbitrage fades, and upcoming competition from China, Eastern Europe & Africa, the Indian IT sector needs to come up with new strategies to continue its growth. Amidst market and non-market challenges faced by Indian IT service providers, there are ample opportunities that can shape future enterprises:

Product Development. The environment is apt for IT service providers to focus on products that can be rolled-out globally. Service providers should focus on collaboratively providing complete and integrated ecosystems around leading products (ex. Tablets, smart phones).

Mobile Analytics. Smart phone adoption is on rise and will continue the upwards trajectory. With this rise and increase in content-based mobile applications, mobile analytics and mobile business intelligence will transform mobile commerce. The cloud-based analytics engine will serve mobile front-ends for sales people on the go.

Information Security. Increased use of digital devices and technologies along with always connected world (through tablets, smart-phones, and internet) will see rise in the targeted attacks. Also, as Indian government takes up eGovernance initiatives, information security becomes a key priority for government and enterprises.

Healthcare IT. Increasing focus on healthcare by worldwide governments provides ample opportunities to IT service providers. Providing healthcare on mobiles (Health-on-Go) will offer the most promise in this segment as it continues to improve convenience, cost and quality aspects. India also offers huge potential for Personal Health Record (PHR) automation market. Microsoft has already started a pilot project and other players will continue focus in this area.

Does your company support Failure?

So your organization swears by Innovation. Every interview of your senior management team touches upon ‘Innovation as the need of the hour’. In globalized commoditization of products and services, innovation is the common theme across organizations.

But are you Innovative? The more important question is, does your organization support the culture of Innovation? I think the answer to the last question can be found in the annual review system.

I have seen different appraisal / employee review systems throughout my career. I feel they were all based on the number of points you get for your achievements. This point system does not tell me to what extent the person tried. I think for managers and above, one key question that should be introduced in such system should be to “Tell about 2 key initiatives in which you have failed”.

Innovation is a function of right culture and processes. Management should be aware of the risks managers are taking and the new ideas / opportunities managers are trying. Without this question, employees tend to minimize trying new things and avoid risks / uncertainties. Without this question, there will not be any push to get out of the comfort zone.

As put by Jess Bezos – “If you want to be inventive — you have to be willing to fail.

 Or by IBM founder, Thomas Watson, “Go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that’s where you’ll find success. On the far side.


You can try this single question survey:

Innovation and Types

 Commoditization of services, stale products, need for Innovation? Sounds like you are in a familiar turf? You bet you are!

 As products and services are becoming commodities, increasingly organizations are looking for the ways to differentiate themselves through further innovations. Organizations are fiddling with human-centred approach to solve problems and improve offerings. But one of the missing ingredients in the dish is identification of ‘Type of Innovation’.

Let’s take a step back and go back on how we can provide new offerings to our consumers. Now all of you with business degrees are aware of Ansoff’s Growth Matrix (Yes! It’s your moment). I can extend it to identify the route I want to take for business growth.

To support the growth, an organization needs 3 innovation types – Process, Incremental, and Lateral.


And accordingly organizations need to select their teams. Depending on the growth strategy, organizations need to have a right balance of Process Innovators, Incremental Innovators and Lateral Innovators. An organization looking to launch an innovative product and bring the disruption in the marketplace cannot do so with the team full of Process Innovators or Incremental Innovators.

In an organization looking to setup a team based on innovation culture, Senior Management plays the role of facilitator. The organizational structure will take the shape depending on the type of business. An established services business will look something like this:

Whereas a tech start-up will look like this:

2 years that were served shaken, not stirred!

Disclaimer: This is gonna be a heavy duty stuff. Parental guidance is advised. In case you are driving or using heavy machinery, please stop and park yourself in a comfortable place.

Only 4 weeks separate us from achieving the alumni status. It’s the perfect time to take stock of the present situation, recent historical trends and future options. The journey that started with the GMAT preparation around 2 years back has come to an end. I have learned and evolved (even though the real new innovation by me was a new cocktail recipe). There have been peaks and troughs. But I think that will happen every time when you want to achieve more in a very short duration. So in case anyone would ask me to provide any tips about this journey, I will have following 3 on the top.

Introspect & Reflect. Identify what you are good at and what you want to do. If there are gaps in these two, identify how to fill those. In case you want to become a ninja, and you are only good at staring at walls, then definitely there is a need for introspection.

Keep it simple. For some MBA will give an opportunity to do things they’ve already thought of. The others will go into ‘zombie’ mode and become the victim of ‘paralysis by analysis’ of their decisions. Often opportunities will come your way; you’ve to identify where your focus should be. In the following 2 flow charts, identify in which one you want to be 🙂

Have Fun in the process. There will be times when you will be pushed to your limits. Motivations will be questioned. Your learning curve will look like a VIX index – too frequent high-rises and panics. Your conventional ideas and thoughts will be shaken. But do enjoy the process. Time flies when you’re having fun. As put in one of the HBR articles –‘Don’t become an overloaded circuit!’

 “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans” – John Lennon




Take out your tap dancing shoes…

Probably you have never met me. Well! If not, you should 🙂

One of the mantras being passed on to current, recent, ancient and balding MBAs is ‘To Network’. Meet people FULL STOP

As an MBA student, HSG MBA program will give you all the training required and the opportunities to put the theory into use. Keeping the culture alive, I will pass on the statement to any one asking me for ‘MBA survival tips’ (of course other than going to Rockstory). We won’t delve into the details as you will get a lot many stories around it on different MBA blogs and other websites.

The point to ponder is that you can manage your network as strategically as you manage your career. I am of the opinion that rather than meeting as many people, one should focus on more substantial relationships. Value more face-to-face interaction; get out of the virtual world. If you want to save your shoes from being worn down in recruiting circus, then it’s time that you start building this skill. If need maybe, you can map the extent of network through the 2 x 2 matrix of Interaction vs Communication (Though, I admit failing quite some times in honing networking skills).

Our capstone event (I still can’t figure out the relevance of the term with the actual activity) will start from 5th Aug. For one last time, the 1 week course will focus on tech transformation based on integrated model dealing with strategy, innovation and technology. Once again, looking forward to meet all the guys in the same classroom and gearing up for fast paced learning as if drinking with the hose!

Meanwhile people, take out your tap dancing shoes from the closet, meet people and find someone to dance with.

To control your cow, give it a bigger pasture…

One of the interesting aspects of HSG MBA is participants from different nationalities (22 in current FT class). And it is an experience in itself in understanding each personality. Now I know 1000 year old Chinese eggs are only preserved for 100 days; There is the closest point between Russia and America that is only 4 km long; 1000 Swiss Francs is the highest denomination note in the world; Chile & Peru are still fighting over the ownership of ‘Pisco’ as a national drink; and yes..Barcelona is not Madrid (my buddy Robert will tell you more in alumni meets).

Aw c’mon! In this already crowded web-based-fountain-of-wisdom world, I’m not going to reveal HSG MBA’s 101 secrets of World Domination. But I can leave you with one of the thoughts from Zen master Suzuki RoshiTo control your cow, give it a bigger pasture.

For me, it’s a great quote. The cow can be seen as your mind and giving the mind a bigger pasture is about having different experiences in life. Understanding MBA participants is one such kind of experience. You will meet people from different backgrounds, cultures, nationalities; you will try to understand each other’s style of working, reacting, absorbing and appreciating. Spending most of your time with intelligent people from different countries and backgrounds will give you a global perspective and will give you an opportunity to refine your PoV (Point of View). And as you will interact more, you will find that the cow (your mind) becomes richer as it roams around the extended pasture of interactions and learning.

PS: “To be stupid, selfish and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost.”

~Gustave Flaubert