How To Become Impervious to Disruption
Infosys - Oracle OpenWorld Highlights 10-27-2015 [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omIhk6YhLQY]
The prestigious Fortune 500 was first published 60 years ago. If a company features in the business magazine's annual list of America's top 500 companies by revenue, it tells the world that the organization has arrived. Yet, one statistic in a recent issue of the magazine should make us all stop and reflect: only 57 of the original Fortune 500 companies remain on the list today. The number suggests that, as one business tycoon famously put it, it's easier to make the list than to stay on it.
Indeed, the churn in large enterprises on that list in just six decades is proof that not enough of them have the tools to sustain their prominent places in a marketplace that is always changing. I'm reminded of a popular book by Harvard Business School's Clayton M. Christensen - The Innovator's Dilemma, which is a treatise on his theory of disruptive innovation. The theory goes that enterprises that were once startups become so successful in the marketplace that they sometimes lose sight of the culture of innovation that got them there. In no time, new enterprises out-innovate the established firms and create new markets, rendering the established firms obsolete.
I couldn't help but think about the theory of disruptive innovation as I watched Infosys CEO Dr. Vishal Sikka give the executive keynote at Oracle OpenWorld 2015 this week. More specifically, it was an image with which he both began and ended his keynote that said a lot. The image, on huge screens behind him on the stage, were of the island of Java in Indonesia, with its majestic temples and soaring mountains and volcanoes. He reminded the crowd that long before Java referred to coffee or a partner company, it was the name of an island. And in the shadow of that island's volcano stands a 1,000-year-old temple. Just as this elegant structure has withstood the tests of time (and aeons of wind, rain, and exploding volcanoes), Dr. Sikka said that he envisions a world in which enterprises can withstand whatever disruption comes their way.
No one would doubt that there's a digital transformation occurring that is creating incredible opportunities for companies in all markets. Or a threat for those who are not prepared. But for a profound digital transformation to embolden an enterprise against disruption, it must possess the right tools to succeed and to maintain that success. But, how to possess such tools? In the vision that Dr. Sikka articulated, enterprises become stronger when they collaborate and innovate with other enterprises. Putting walls up around a company used to be what gave it strength...but not in today's environment.
During the keynote address, Dr. Sikka elucidated how instrumental Infosys has become as a partner to a century-old industrial giant like GE. The next time you fly on an airplane with GE-built engines, for instance, think about how Infosys has helped make them safer and more reliable by empowering the way GE manufacturers and maintains them. Through analytics and Big Data, Infosys is helping traditional industrial firms like GE become streamlined digital firms. These companies are employing the power of automation and information to predict when a part in, say, the landing gear of an airplane will fail. If an airplane manufacturer can provide such predictive analysis, then preventative maintenance not only saves money but lives as well.
Newer technologies are liberating enterprises so that their talented employees have more time and energy to innovate. And therein lies the secret, I think. Being impervious can only happen when an enterprise technologically outruns the competition. Then the company utilizes tools to keep widening the gap between it and the competition. It's about technology that essentially transforms a century-old company into a startup again and again.
And what about the innovative startups with their abundant talent pool? Well, we collaborate with them, too, of course. We established the Infosys Innovation Fund to incubate and encourage young, entrepreneurial technologists, especially in areas of next-generation technologies like machine learning, automation and artificial intelligence. After all, Infosys was a startup with very little capital three decades ago, remember?
As we evolve as an organization, we are realizing that we can do so much more because we have more technology...and it's better technology. It's more accessible to more people and enterprises, and with that comes even more innovation. It's a self-perpetuating circle and it's only recently started to gain momentum. Here's to the future!