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Corporate Innovation: What's Cooking In Business Corridors Corporates today are extremely savvy and most are well aware of what start-ups are doing in their respective domains.

By Rama Iyer

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Corporate Innovation is mostly regarded as an oxymoron not only in the start-up fraternity but also in the corporate corridors. Reasons for that are not hard to seek given the fact that the corporate sector is actually pretty large, hierarchical and at times extremely bureaucratic in its functioning. Many of us, who have spent a decade or two in the sector can relate to the interpretation, or the fact that these are merely perceptions or somewhere in between.

Let's move beyond the perception and get into what actually is happening on the corporate ground in the past few years and specifically surrounding innovation. Today, things have actually changed a lot on the corporate innovation front. It's no longer piecemeal stuff or one motivational training or executive group offsite, which was the usual song and dance event to talk about innovation, disruption and strategy. At the end of it, folks would go back and do their usual work the same usual way.

Let's peep into what corporate employees are doing in the space of innovation today. Corporate Innovation is serious business for every business and this is not only for incremental growth, margin but much more fundamental for an establishment to survive, adapt and thrive in the eve- changing landscape of business dynamism.

Dealing with corporate daily on the very subject of innovation has given me some good insights into its thought process, innovation, CXO involvement, sponsors.

Let me share some of these insights.

1. Corporates today are extremely savvy and most are well aware of what start-ups are doing in their respective domains.

2. They are cognizant of the fact that disruption is probably underway in some nook and corner of the globe in some small start-up garage and are very keen to get to it before their competition can.

3. Today innovation is longer a regional or BU specific initiative — it's a global/ HQ sponsored initiative and has the eyes and ears of the top management.

4. Corporates today no longer need teaching, prodding on what innovation is and why it's important to them. They are already sold on this and rearing to go.

5. Today innovation is very strategic in nature and has serious funding and sponsorship from the CXO level, for the right kind of programs and partnership.

6. Today corporates are happy to engage in strategic relationships with external innovation houses, incubators, accelerators, R&D/ academic institutes and are happy to work on long-term programmes for meaningful output and impact.

7. Corporates today are more than willing to learn, experiment and happy to try out things than ever before.

Again, the above insights may differ and vary to different degrees based on the corproate, but surely many are moving down this path with speed and aggression to embrace innovation both internally and externally. It will put them ahead in the competition and help them to be trailblazers in their respective industries.
Rama Iyer

Chief Innovation Officer, T-Hub

Rama Iyer is the Senior Vice-President, Head,Innovation and Strategic Alliance, T-Hub. He leads corporate innovation and also serves as a mentor for many startups. 

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