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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Globalization and Innovation

We are living in a rapidly globalizing world. In this shifting world, rules of the game can change anytime; success will come to those who adapt quickly to the new rules. And as is common understanding, the best way to adapt to the new rules is to write these rules. In these highly competitive times, with extreme uncertainties and time compressions, it is the successful exploitation of ideas, i.e., Innovation, which can be the only competitive advantage. New ideas can come from -- other industries, your competitors, your employees or your customers.

With the plethora of ideas available and extreme attention the word Innovation is getting (a recent search on Google gives 124 Million hits for the word Innovation), it is imperative that the organizations need to choose the right and relevant ideas to pursue in their quest for competitive advantage. This involves choice, hence decision-making. One of the greatest challenges of human decision-making methodologies has been to help the homo sapiens in choosing the right path out of many alternatives under the conditions of partial, incorrect and stochastic information about the future. To pursue a particular idea (especially a new technological idea) with unknown returns on investment is becoming one of the most risky decision making problem in the new world.

This new world has been defined by Thomas L. Freedman [“Lexus and Olive Tree”] in contrast to the earlier era as, “While the defining measurement of cold war was weight – particularly the throw weight of missiles – the defining measurement of the globalization system is speed – speed of commerce, travel, communication and INNOVATION”. How fast you innovate and then protect your technological innovations through a patent protection is the key decision that any R&D head of the modern commercial organization need to take. The cost of protecting and prosecuting a patent prohibits any ad hoc decision-making based on only intuition, judgment and experience of the decision maker alone. A framework is needed for evaluating an invention from the point of view of its commercial potential.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Information has become a self-feeding loop for the Enterprises. The realization that - The more you know the more you need to know - has yielded unprecedented hunger for more data and information at all levels in the Enterprise. However, this information and data explosion yields a directionless collection of data at various levels in the Enterprise. This leads to Information de-coherence and leads to high volumes of collected data lying unused. The data could have been put to a proper usage in creating Decisions at various levels in the Enterprise. There is a requirement to convert the incoherent data into actionable knowledge we call Decision Enabling Knowledge (DEK).

To create this DEK, Enterprises need to embrace and combine variety of quantitative and soft-computing techniques from multi-dimensional areas of Operations Research (OR), Cybernetics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Statistics, Applied Mathematics and System Analysis. This article describes various techniques and their applications for converting mountains of data into genuine insights for transforming Enterprise business.

(This is the abstract of an article I wrote about three years back - send me an email for a pdf of the article)



A Critical Appraisal

(These are conclusions from my project report completed last year for the diploma in IPR from NLSUI (Bangalore) - send me a message with your email for the pdf)

Conclusions and Further Issues

· The Software and Business Method patents are already in existence in the world. In the US, these are clearly defined and overtly explained which at least is much better than the European and Indian approach where the legislation regarding software as such has created an option of getting Patent Rights on software and business methods by reframing or redrafting the claims.

· The Business method patents, although granted – either overtly in US or covertly in India/Europe, have been plagued with major controversies regarding prior art, non-obviousness and usefulness – the three main criterion of classical patent frameworks.

· It has been shown in this report that software and business method inventions are radically different than the classical products in chemical, mechanical or hardware fields. These differences are clearly visible as software and business method inventions deals with concepts, data, information, knowledge, decision-making, calculations, computations and abstract models whereas the tangible traditional products are more about physical manifestations of the ideas.

· Business methods and software needs a fresh approach for evaluating the Intellectual Property Rights as these inventions cover hitherto unknown and un- chartered waters in the IPR Legal frameworks across the world. The history of Patent system and its drivers over many years – which include philosophical aspects of propagating inventive capabilities, and creating a reward system for inventiveness will be served much better by looking at the unique characteristics of Business methods.

· We propose a paradigm shift. The Business Method Rights – a new form of Intellectual property proposed here, can help rectify some of the existing ills with respect to Patenting of Business Methods. These Rights are based on the understanding that inventions are to be protected at the abstract level rather than mere implementations. The clear articulation in terms of operations (e.g, processing, communication, representation/storage), operands (e.g. data, information, knowledge) and quality attributes (e.g. reliability, performance, security, fault tolerance etc) is a unique proposition that will help clear identification of inventions in these fields.

· patent criterion of Novelty is the only criterion retained. The non-obviousness and usefulness criteria, we believe in software and Business methods fields are actually a hindrance to innovation rather than facilitators and they do not any way serve the main purpose of looking at obviousness as there do not exist “the person skilled in art” who knows all the knowledge of the art but is absolutely non-creative or has no thoughts of his own about the field.

· This is a fresh attempt and approach to look at the issues from India centric perspective on the new fields where IP laws have not been debated and where there are less historical perspectives. We believe that this report will at least start a fresh debate and let the authorities approach these technologies with an open mind rather than limiting ourselves in the existing frameworks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Exploratory Questions

I am currently exploring following questions:

1. Does the increasing number of choices, especially in a scenario where number of ideas are generated in the ideation or creative solution to specific problems, make the decision maker which typically is a Manager insecure? This is so as the manager has been given more options to choose from and more options for analysis, and as we know from our experience, increasing number of alternatives make the task of choosing one alternative exceedingly difficult.

2. I can feel the difference, when in early 1980's we had in India only one TV channel, the government owned Doordarshan, it was a simple matter of watching the TV or not watching it, now with 100 channels available on your fingertips, it is an extremely complex and difficult choice to watch a specific channel for a long period of time.

3. In effect Managers do not want Innovation actually...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Innovation Crafting

Successful exploitation of (New) ideas is innovation. One need to orchestrate or craft Innovation in a group such as a commercial organization. This is an open forum for Innovation and how to Craft it in the organizations

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