World Is Getting Stuck On Big-Bang Innovation Part 2

Pravir Vohra, Group CTO - ICICI Bank in an exclusive interview to speaks about how CIOs should manage innovation and clarifies the fundamental difference between 'Innovation' and 'Invention'.

What are your views on re-using the existing systems?

One should not be fussy, even if it's 'copying'. However, it should not be plagiarising. The inference to this is that we would be happy to adopt an initiative that has been carried out in other markets and 'emulate' it for the Indian market.

For instance, about six to seven years back, ICICI bank implemented a billing system for corporate customers. They have a variety of relationships with the bank, which includes cash management, deposit accounts, letters of credit (LOC), etc. Instead of communicating with them on a chargeable basis on every transaction we could send them a monthly bill that would have the particulars of all types of banking transactions.

Two years ago ICICI Bank used the same platform to actually start billing for its collections agents. The bank started generating bills for the collections agents as they didn't have a billing system which was as robust. The bank would subsequently get it validated from the respective entities.

What are the challenges in managing innovation?

A major challenge in creating sustainability is managing the human psyche itself (especially with respect to change)- which while great at ideating is perhaps not so good at accepting change. This, perhaps, is a broader issue.

We created an Ideas lab. Every suggested idea is documented and goes through a judgment process to be tested for its relevance. The suggestion is adjudicated to be taken up for either adoption or parked, or even dismissed. These suggestions can be viewed on a portal to the employees who are ideating.

The only way to sustain the process is through 'constant review' of ideas that have been parked, from time to time.

Will social networking tools enhance innovation? What are your views on the buzz around 'Kinetic Glue', the social networking product for the enterprise?

Technologies are emerging and organisations across the world are trying to find new and innovative ways of deploying them.

Vivek Paul (Promoter of Kinetic Glue) has spent tremendous amount of time in India grabbing a lot of media attention. I have met with him a few times lately. But, I am on the wrong side of fifty to understand some of these technologies. Hence, at ICICI Bank, I got two or three of my youngest colleagues straight out of college in technology, and over-ruled every process in the book and gave them Facebook access. We are trying hard to figure out what is it that the bank should be doing on Facebook beyond infotainment- putting up product displays and so on.

The challenge, perhaps, is how to ensure that the large percentage of employee time on social networking sites goes towards purposes that would be productive to the organisation rather than unproductive purposes otherwise.

As far as Kinetic Glue (similar to Facebook, customised for the enterprise requirements) is concerned, we will do a limited pilot. These technologies are emerging. They will provide a more fertile platform for ideation, but they are not going to create new ideas by themselves.

Updated Date: Feb 02, 2017 23:00:43 IST