What is your outlook on the current business scenario and what are the changes anticipated in this year? How optimistic are you in terms of the economy bouncing back on track?
As an emerging economy, the mid-long-term outlook overall has to be positive for us but, one needs to closely monitor the shifting consumer needs. Young India is even more demanding when it comes to value for their money and hence, market will attract them with newer innovations or alternatives with better value propositions. An aware & demanding customer drives companies towards better efficiencies; but most importantly, it is also disrupting our traditional way of fulfilling their needs. If we keep pace with the need to innovate and bring both technological & cost innovation to our product and services, Indian market outlook will be positive.
What is your agenda / plan-of-action for the year 2020, in order to be competitive and stay relevant to customers and catch up with the growth momentum?
At Hella India Lighting, our organisational goal is well-defined in our vision statement, which is, ‘Technology of tomorrow for the life of today’ on Indian roads. With one crash every minute and a road death every four minutes, road crash is India's biggest cause of unnatural deaths. We have classified the safety ecosystem on roads as three-step process, one – recognising the traffic & other objects on road; two – reaction & three – injury avoidance. If you see our highways and trucks, most of them don’t have reliable stop & tail lamps and cars go inside them from rear as tailgating crashes. These are basic technologies, and it’s our responsibility to innovate them and bring new business models around it. We recently transformed CV rear lamps to LED technology with fit & forget, low wattage, no maintenance solutions, and in a few years, our roads will change. We have collaborated with our OEM partners to bring these innovations as quickly as possible. So, we are constantly chasing this problem of Indians dying on the road and working with our partners to bring solutions to vehicle visibility, ‘to see & to be seen’.
How should a company effectively bridge the gap between optimising existing technologies & investing in advancements? Would you like to share examples from your organisation?
Any organisation should be true to its vision. Depending on the organisational understanding of the needs of the customer, it must have a technology road map. At present, this road map can’t be fixed for long years, we need to update it based on the changes in consumer buying behaviour and other external changes. Having loyal and partner customers is a big advantage to know the market shifts and to tweak the technology road map when it’s needed. Doing it before time will not allow earlier investments to pay off and missing the timing will all together make products obsolete. Hence, creating a partner ecosystem with customers and working closely with consumers real problems well before time, keeps the brands prepared to be ahead of curve.
How can India build sustainable breakthrough ecosystems for nurturing global businesses and achieving manufacturing-driven growth? At the same time, how can the industry respond to uncertain economic cycles and technological disruptions, simultaneously?
We must count on our strength. Our biggest strength is our engineering soft power, and due to young demographics, we have our time now to make ‘Make in India’ a reality. But the only way it’s possible is to take bigger problems & challenges of the world and work on innovating. To build a culture of innovation, one needs to understand the customers need, develop tooling and manufacturing processes and build winning product specifications. This needs an underlying innovation culture in one’s organisations. When we started building the same, after having a clarity of purpose, it took us some years to get there. In 2018, we received CII Industrial Innovation Award, the best in the country, in the mid-manufacturing segment. This culture keeps employees engaged as their mind is constantly thinking about innovating, be it continuous or breakthrough. In emerging markets like India, population and hence potential to consume is only increasing. Thus, the technological disruptions and negative deeper economic cycles may be one and the same. As markets are shifting, relevance of our products and services are put to test. The only way to move ahead is to progress with new paradigms, as it comes.