Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In-Context Consumer Innovation

Prith Banerjee, Director of HP Labs talks about the importance of innovation in-context of the consumer's environment, from the McKinsey:

"Today, HP Labs is in seven different locations around the world. We are in India, China, Russia, Israel, and all over the place. And the reason we moved to those locations has nothing to do with cheap labor. By moving a researcher from Palo Alto to India—and maybe the cost is half that in India—it has nothing to do with cheap labor.

It has to do with the researchers in India trying to tap into the talent in India. And the
researchers in India are actually working on projects that are relevant to that context. So HP Labs India, its mission is innovation for the next billion customers.

I strongly believe that it is not very easy for researchers sitting in Palo Alto to imagine the problems for the billion people in India, the vegetable vendors in India. What kind of cell phones, what kind of PDA devices would they need to solve their day-to-day problems?

Sitting here in Palo Alto, you imagine that the whole world is developed, and it’s not. So the
researchers in India are actually working on precisely those problems. They are looking at rich, intuitive interfaces; they are looking at devices, sort of a smart phone for the Indian market. There are a billion people in India. More than 70 percent of the people have cell phones, but only 5 percent of people have PCs, computers, in their homes. So what we are trying to do is to see how we can enable the remaining 95 percent of people in India to embrace computing.

The challenge isn’t that they can’t afford a computer. It’s true, a computer is $1,000. But
they are affording televisions. They’re affording cars. They’re affording scooters. So clearly it is not the price, it is the value. Can we bring value to those people in India? And that’s an example of a project that is going on—it’s a project called a value device, a sort of cloud service and a platform environment that they are working on in India. Completely innovative. And those kinds of projects would not have happened from the researchers in Palo Alto."

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