For the past six years,Outlook has been enriched by the insight, imagination and distinctive voice of Kishore Swaminathan, Accenture’s chief scientist, who has been the author of “On the Edge,” our regular column on technology and innovation.
In this issue, Kishore challenges the prevailing conventional wisdom about innovation, arguing that Western companies need to rethink their often expensive focus on finding breakthrough, game-changing innovations. Instead, he says, they should embrace the more frugal approach that has been highly successful in countries like China, India and Brazil.
In the end, he notes, this approach will not only better serve their customers in both emerging markets and the West, it will actually produce more and better innovation.
With a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology at Madras and a master’s and doctorate in computer science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Kishore spent the first several years of his career at Accenture as a classical researcher—publishing papers and patenting his inventions—before becoming the company’s director of research. In 2006, he was named chief scientist, a role in which he defined Accenture’s technology vision and became an external spokesman and technology evangelist for Accenture. In 2011, Kishore relocated to Beijing to launch a new Accenture Technology Lab in China.
Meeting with hundreds of C-level executives and government policy makers from around the world in his capacity as chief scientist has been something of a revelation, Kishore notes: “I realized that many top-level business executives and policy makers actually want to understand the technology, particularly the essence of a new technology. But many technologists tend to dumb it down for business executives, and business writers seem to dumb it down even further because they fundamentally do not understand technology.
“My bully pulpit allows me to talk to these leaders in a way that doesn’t insult their intelligence and to make understanding technology an integral part of running a successful organization.”