Events in India Highlight Challenges and Opportunities of Digital Disruption

Attendees of the Mack Institute & SBI Corporate Innovation Workshop “Navigating Disruption and Managing Innovation in the New Economy” in Kolkata in January 2019

The Mack Institute always strives to have a global focus, with funded researchers at universities all over the world and a corporate partner network that represents four continents. This winter, we turned our attention to south Asia with two events designed to draw attention to the innovation challenges particular to the region.

The Mack Institute’s Saikat Chaudhuri moderates a panel on leapfrogging in emerging markets at WIEF 2019 in Mumbai.

The Wharton India Economic Forum, which the Mack Institute sponsors annually, is Wharton’s student-run, India-centric business conference bringing together entrepreneurs, leaders, professionals, academics, and students from across the world to discuss India’s growing presence in the global economy.

This year’s event was led and co-chaired by Wharton students Juhi Bhatnagar, Kartik Das, Swati Ganeti, Khushboo Goel, and Sonal Panda and drew over 400 people to Mumbai. The theme, “Innovate, Invest, Impact” inspired spirited panel discussions on topics such as energy outlook, the future of mobility, private equity, impact investing, healthcare, and innovation in Bollywood. Concurrently, the 6th annual Wharton India Startup Challenge identified three prizewinners out of a pool of 500 applications.

The Mack Institute’s Saikat Chaudhuri and Harbir Singh also visited the State Bank of India’s Institute of Leadership to present a corporate innovation workshop on “Navigating Disruption and Managing Innovation in the New Economy.”

The workshop discussed how digital technologies are disrupting business models across industries while also creating new capabilities and opportunities. For example, cloud computing makes digitization affordable, everything-as-a-service makes data management easier, IIOT improves efficiencies, and mobile technology makes communication faster. To take full advantage of these trends and maintain their industry leadership, incumbents must innovate to defend their business models.

However, the faculty leaders pointed out, incumbents often fail to overcome disruption because they lack the courage to question the status quo, fail to persevere past initial setbacks, or can’t distinguish true opportunities from the surrounding noise. They introduced five key principles incumbents can practice in order to thrive: rethink the mission of the firm, listen to the customers, encourage user-led innovations, leverage big data and analytics to better understand customers, and foster open innovation ecosystems to co-create with key stakeholders. In addition, they identified three characteristics of firms that see high success rates in innovation.

To learn more details and gain more insights from the workshop, download the presentation slides here.

Download the Mack Institute’s white paper on digital disruption here.