What has India's growth been in the manufacturing sector from 1995 to 2006, asked the management guru, Prof C. K. Prahalad, at the recent Manufacturing Summit 2006. None came up with an answer. Prof Prahalad said multinationals are now willing to talk with Indian companies that have the muscle and the reputation to raise money to expand. An Indian company can on its own terms easily access global players bankers, investors or giant firms. This was not so till at least 1995.

So what next? For Prof Prahalad it is to create "next practices." Prof Prahalad expects, in the near future, restructuring of industries world-wide. He sees a shift from a firm-centric view of products to co-creation of value. A product is now seen just as an output. But, then, it creates a set of values to enhance the use of the product.

Prof Prahalad went on to explain the concept with an example of a `pacemaker.'

The pacemaker regulates the heart beat. It is more of a product now. But what if the pacemaker could tell a person to cut down on his actions based on feedback from a team that is actually monitoring his heartbeat? Or, warn the hospital nearest to the patient about his being ill (in an emergency) and further provide the hospital's doctors with the patient's history, all through the pacemaker. "Would you still consider the pacemaker just a product?," the professor asked.

By tagging services to products, there can be `co-creation of value'; a plain product acquires magical properties.

Prof Prahalad thought that there had to be a change in the thinking process itself; and lo! a product becomes a service.

Prof Prahalad wound up his 30-minute speech saying that it requires imagination, passion, courage, humanity, humility, intellect and luck to understand the co-creation of value. The focus, he said, should shift to manufacturing intelligent products.

The Manufacturing Summit 2006 was all about innovation and redefining business operations. One of the speakers, Mr Banmali Agrawala, managing director, Wartsila India, said innovation is not about innovating products and services; it is all about innovation in the business module. He insisted that for creation and implementation of ideas, one should consider it as a `system process' rather than a one-off thing. Mr Jamshyd N Godrej, chairman and managing director, Godrej & Boyce, emphasised on the sector working together on skill development for a positive impact on the manufacturing programme.

Mayur Shah

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 22, 2006)
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