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by Steve Todd | April 01, 2011


In recent posts I recalled the grim outlook for traditional high-tech innovation that was presented at the World Innovation Forum and World Business Forum in 2009.

One of the speakers at the innovation conference was Vijay Govindarajan (VG). I have written several posts about his theory of reverse innovation, which has a significant impact on the international high-tech job market.

One of the other speakers at the World Innovation Forum in 2009 was C.K. Prahalad (read Vijay Govindarajan’s tribute written about Prahalad shortly after his death in 2010).

In C.K. Prahalad’s book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the author discussed the economic opportunities available in developing countries, especially for those countries that are experiencing poverty. He often referred to the poor as “value-conscious consumers.” Their strong desire to improve their lot can result in a tremendous drive when they are engaged in the innovation process. CK referred to the engagement of these consumers in the innovative process as the “process of co-creation.”

Prahalad presented a framework for poverty eradication. Interestingly enough, this framework can also be applied as a strategy for global profitability for any corporation willing to adopt a new approach to innovation:

What is needed is a better approach to help the poor, an approach that involves partnering with them to innovate and achieve sustainable win-win scenarios where the poor are actively engaged and, at the same time, the companies providing products and services to them are profitable. (pp. 27-28)

This philosophy is especially true in the high-tech field. Consider the built-out, high-tech infrastructure currently found in the United States versus that found in developing countries. In the United States, millions of homes have hard-wired network connections and sophisticated power grids. A desperate need for innovation in high-tech products is not found in the United States because the country already has an advanced infrastructure.

Prahalad explained that technology is readily consumed in developing countries that currently have little to no high-tech infrastructure. In India, the use of cheap wireless devices spread when it was shown that Indian farmers could check prices at local auction houses (as well as the Chicago Stock Exchange!), allowing them to make decisions about how much to sell and when. Inexpensive forms of solar technology are being used to heat water in remote areas of Asian countries where electricity is scarce or prohibitively expensive.

In both India and China, high-tech products are being widely adopted when they meet customer needs at affordable prices.

How does the need for “co-creation” with value-conscious consumers impact job seekers in the high-tech industry? Clearly, a framework for globally-distributed intrapreneurs must exist at any corporation that wishes to take advantage of global growth.

Job seekers should ensure that this framework is in place. If it is in place, then an international career becomes much more feasible than a similar career opportunity at a startup.

In my next post I will examine how C.K.’s concept of co-creation impacts the formation of a distributed network of intrapreneurs.

Twitter: @SteveTodd
EMC Intrapreneur


Filed Under: Technology

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