Cisco champions Indian R&D

1 April 2013

NEW DELHI: Cisco, the networking and technology firm, believes innovation can become a "focus of India's growth story", and thus benefit both companies trading locally and the country as a whole.

Faiyaz Shahpurwala, Cisco's site leader for India, argued that finding imaginative solutions to common problems - such as low-cost refrigerators and solar-powered coolers - is a trait deeply embedded in its culture.

"Ad hoc improvisation - or 'Jugaad' - has always been a part of the Indian ethos, and has brought many benefits," Shahpurwala told the Hindu Business Line. "These are making way for sustained innovation."

The core benefits that India possesses when it comes to building a "culture of innovation", he added, include favourable demographics and possessing a large pool of experts in technically-complicated professions.

"India has the advantage of a youthful population with 65% [of citizens] below 35 [years old], strong engineering talent, and a partner-friendly government," said Shahpurwala.

In order to stimulate an environment where India consistently delivers innovation of a global significance, it will be essential to remove the fear of failure that can govern decision-making.

"In companies, this is done in multiple ways - right from creating a great workplace environment with all necessary infrastructure, tools and capabilities aimed to fostering innovations, towards making workplaces a living lab," Shahpurwala said.

Additional strategies that will help India achieve this aim incorporate forming more public-private partnerships between government agencies, companies, venture capitalists and universities, according to Shahpurwala

His next recommendation was to embrace and encourage the development of new technology, especially by building academic bodies, industry forums and knowledge institutes, as well as supporting entrepreneurs.

Rethinking current business models is another core goal, something Cisco has demonstrated by forming tie-ups with electricity providers to apply networking technology to the power grid, and thus optimise performance levels.

"The guiding tenet for achieving this is customer-centricity," said Shahpurwala. "This out of the box thinking allowed us to work in new ways with new partners to crack new markets."

Data sourced from Hindu Business Line; additional content by Warc staff