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Lack of Innovation in offshoring/outsourcing services?

Steve Hamm, in his recent blog questions “Does Outsourcing Retard Innovation?.” in the brief blog, he hypothesizes  how “Accenture, IBM, and the Indian tech services outfits talk a lot about transformational services, but, it seems, not a lot of clients are taking them up on it.” Nothing innovative in this statement! (pun intended). Steve’s blog takes off from his discussion with Bob Suh, Accenture’s chief technology strategist whose conclusion seems to be similar to a BCG survey from a few months ago. [my blog: Execs frustrated by lack of innovation : Can offshoring help?]

Innovation -- or lack of innovation -- is a perennial topic among management thinkers and technologists. Add to this the fact that no executive, manager or architect worth his/her salt would admit to a lack of innovativeness, just as no organization or service provider would admit to lack of innovative solutions or offerings.

Speaking of business-technology innovation, I came across an interesting Wall Street Journal blog entry [Techies to Microsoft: Save Windows XP] that talks about how “so far, most businesses have resisted switching to Vista,” Microsoft’s upgraded operating system. Infosys as Microsoft’s partner has innovative solutions to help clients migrate across operating systems. Our techies have been involved in several recent engagements helping clients migrate to Vista.

Here is a dichotomy. Vista is a great - one can say innovative - leap over XP. However, innovation in an operating system alone does not translate to business value (though leveraging some of the newer features most certainly will). In an ideal world, all my clients would want to upgrade to the latest-greatest versions of technologies and tools; but we don’t live in an ideal world, do we? There are going to be clients similar to the ones mentioned in the WSJ blog that want to continue to squeeze the maximum out of the existing investments in platform and systems. For them, innovation could lie elsewhere in the value chain, not necessarily in a technology upgrade life-cycle. What would I recommend to such a hypothetical client? Would it be innovative if my recommendation were aligned with their corporate strategy rather than in leveraging the innovativeness of the new OS?

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