Infosys’ CEO: What My 17-Year-Old Son Taught Me About Business




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The unprecedented sequence of events that started in 2008 and led to the global economic turmoil has taken the business world and its leaders by storm. Business leaders have since been devoting a significant proportion of their time and attention to dealing with the ongoing macro-economic uncertainties, and rightfully so. However, this short-term focus on macro-economic uncertainties is consequently blurring their focus on the long term.I believe there are two critical realities that we must think deeply about. Firstly, companies that stay “relevant” to the new future have the right to survive. Secondly, companies that can “scale” rapidly to reach across to 7 billion people stay in the race. This is as critical whether you are a B2B or a B2C business. It is very clear to me that the difference between those who lead the markets and those who struggle is in three key areas: how they sense the emerging future, how they influence the behaviour of markets and how they scale products or services in a rapidly changing consumer landscape.

The next generation of markets would emerge from seven global mega trends

  • Digital consumer activism
  • Emerging market demographics
  • New inclusive models of commerce
  • Sustainability crisis
  • Innovations in healthcare
  • Quest for simplification
  • New markets created by sensors and the cloud.

Our traditional approaches to anticipate new market needs would not be effective in this changing context. At Infosys, I am driving innovation co-creation with our clients focused on these seven global mega trends. This, for us, is a much better way to “sense” the markets of tomorrow. Enterprises are less dependent on traditional means of sensing demand, like market / consumer research, as technology enables real-time demand sensing. Mobile GPS-enabled consumer location sensing, online / mobile content consumption tracking, social listening and such like are altering the demand-sensing paradigm.

My 17-year-old son recently bought a smartphone. He made his decision without speaking to anyone. He went online, read reviews from peers and experts. He made up his mind before he actually saw the phone. Traditional methods have no opportunity to influence the behaviour of consumers and markets, before or after the product or service launch. What are we doing differently to “influence” the markets of tomorrow?

New growth ideas need scalable delivery platforms that can reach across an increasingly globalized world. This could be a digital platform as used by Netflix or a close integration between a digital platform and a responsive supply chain as used by Amazon. Simple tasks of accepting orders, ensuring error-free and timely deliveries, inventory control, accounts receivables etc. can become highly challenging. visualise a consumer goods company trying to reach billions of consumers through 4 feet by 4 feet mum-and-pop shops in India, China and Africa. An insurance company in a developed market has similar challenges in extending its services across baby boomers and Generation-Y simultaneously. Consumers expect enterprises to deliver a predictable richness of experience, seamlessly, across multiple channels, digital and physical.

The future poses new challenges, and yet brings new growth opportunities. Evolution of technologies, such as social media, mobile devices and the cloud, open new possibilities. It is the responsibility of leaders, such as us, to re-examine and innovate how we sense the emerging future, how we influence the behaviour of markets and how we scale our products or services in a rapidly changing consumer landscape.

This post originally appeared at the World Economic Forum Blog.