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October 26, 2012

If I'd Listened to what my Customers wanted, I'd have given them a Faster Horse

Posted by Sandeep Dadlani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:50 AM

The American industrialist Henry Ford once said this. Bet he'd heard the adage "the customer is always right".  Yet, he trusted his business instincts and visioning rather just the somewhat limited wish-list of his customers. I'm not, for a moment, suggesting that it's a good idea to blind oneself to customers. But, it's important to see that striving to give customers what they want does not mean delivering it in the exact manner they may have envisioned it - because envisioning that tomorrow is the provider's job. Our job. And, so it has always been.

In the early 20th century, tooth powder was the accepted and most popular form of dental care. A person would sprinkle the powder on a toothbrush and then wet it with water to form a paste. Consumer goods companies asked themselves: What if we cut out one of those steps for the customer? Instead of selling powder in tins, we could sell toothpaste in tubes! This decision perhaps seems quaint and simple today, yet it was a seismic shift in the mid-20th century. 

Today, these tectonic moves are often created through technology-led transformation. From merely supporting business competitiveness technology is steadily becoming the catalyst of change. There is a growing acceptance of its influence over business direction and its potential to seed business models of the future. I can see transformation partners playing a more proactive role, than ever before, in shaping business; as  equal participants in generating ideas for how businesses can walk that 'road less taken'. In the course of the last 12 months, I have participated in numerous innovation workshops we've conducted with the CIOs and CTOs of global organizations spanning various industries, to co-create a vision of what's at the end of that elusive 'road less taken'. We continue to engage with them even after the workshops are over, and use a proprietary innovation framework, peppered with examples of cross-industry success, to help them identify and implement the most important technology initiatives that will take them closer to realizing their goals for game-changing, radical progress.  

Because, when you really look at it, there's so much that actually lies between an idea and its potential to make the world a better place. And, I think, it's a great place to be - working through all of that...unleashing the power of these ideas. By releasing innovation.

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