Emerging Markets

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Why China Is the World’s Innovation Role Model

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There’s a lot of talk of trade tensions between the U.S. and China, but there’s another way to think about China: as an innovation role model. “Anybody involved in international business needs to treat China not just as a place to sell, but also as a place to learn,” wrote Edward S. Steinfeld and Troels Beltoft in MIT Sloan Management Review in 2014. China, they argued, is “becoming the best place to go if you want to learn how to make ideas commercially viable.” Three years later, this is truer than ever.

Competing Through Joint Innovation

Even as multinationals struggle to make inroads in emerging markets, companies from those markets are finding ways to compete in Europe and the U.S. A case in point is Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company, which has used strategic partnerships to gain ground in Europe. Huawei’s overseas expansion closely resembles the strategy the company used to build its position in China: Start at the perimeter and work toward the center.

The Next Wave of Business Models in Asia

The first wave of innovation from emerging markets in Asia has been predicated on the replication of existing business models at lower cost. The second wave, which could be even more disruptive than the first, fundamentally reimagines various facets of the business model to find new, often digitally enabled, ways in which resources and processes can be leveraged. Such companies identify creative ways for partners, stakeholders, and customers to be involved in value creation and capture.

Mastering the Market Intelligence Challenge

A shortage of reliable information is common in emerging markets. Because such markets are heterogeneous, the sources and methods for market intelligence require modification before they can be transferred from one emerging market to another. Market intelligence is thus best viewed and managed as a strategic asset that multinationals should invest in keeping up to date.

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Engaging With Startups in Emerging Markets

For large multinationals, forging effective partnerships with emerging-market startups is complicated. Traits that make startups attractive as partners also make it hard for large companies to engage with them. Looking at startups in India, China, and South Africa, researchers identify key factors inhibiting emerging market partnerships and offer strategies for addressing them.

A Fresh Take on Supply Chain Innovation

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For PepsiCo, entering the natural beverage markets of coconut water and smoothies meant developing new risk-management practices. In the coconut water business, “lead times are longer and supply is more variable than in PepsiCo’s traditional beverage supply chain,” write Tim Rowell of PepsiCo and James B. Rice Jr. of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. “The company has had to build enough inventory to minimize stock outs — without causing excessive losses through obsolescence.”

Developing New Products in Emerging Markets

How can multinational companies turn ideas from their emerging-market subsidiaries into global products? A successful innovation developed by Cisco’s R&D unit in India offers practical insights into how to make that process work effectively. Key enablers in the Cisco case included well-developed R&D capabilities at a company center in Bangalore, a large market opportunity, and the support of executive champions. The process also demanded clarity about what product to develop, and how — including working on a shoestring budget.

Developing Effective Intellectual Property Partnerships

All too often, companies from emerging and established economies talk past each other when discussing intellectual property. The result is that often fail to consider all their options for a productive collaboration. The authors detail five ways that companies can structure such IP partnerships, and say that it’s important for a company to choose the one that’s the best fit for the project: “The choice of IP business models is a strategic decision, not merely a legal matter.”

Innovation Lessons From China

China is becoming the best place to learn how to make ideas commercially viable, even as many multinational companies are growing increasingly wary of doing business there because of concerns about unfair competition and theft of intellectual property. Chinese companies excel at cost reduction, accelerated product development and networked production — and know how to assess what they can do and quickly find partners to fill the gaps.

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Image courtesy of chotuKool.

How Disruptive Will Innovations from Emerging Markets Be?

Companies located in developing countries are currently serving billions of local consumers with innovative and inexpensive products. But what happens when more of those companies make the leap into more developed markets? Is it inevitable that these companies will overtake the more developed companies? Using historical examples, this article looks at how disruptors and incumbents compete. For incumbents, knowing that much of their fate rests in their hands is half the battle won.

Is It Time to Rethink Your Manufacturing Strategy?

Since the mid-1990s, many companies have outsourced or offshored their manufacturing operations. For most, one crucial enabling factor was cheap oil: Long supply lines were economically feasible because transportation costs were relatively low. Hence, companies emphasized reducing manufacturing costs through (1) offshoring or outsourcing; (2) plant rationalization; and (3) consolidating distribution centers and warehouses to reduce inventory levels and minimize fixed facility costs.

Image courtesy of KONE Corp.

The Art of Piloting New Initiatives

Successful multinationals get that way by finding better ways to leverage operational improvements across the entire company. But developing such superior processes is not easy. New operational ideas fail for many reasons. One of the most common is not that the idea was bad, but that the developers set up a pilot that failed to persuade managers in the units that the process was an improvement. Successful pilots share three qualities: credibility, replicability and feasibility.

Image courtesy of Flickr user gak.

Flat World, Hard Boundaries – How To Lead Across Them

While technological innovations have revolutionized the workplace, it is ironic that relational boundaries — obstacles to productive human interactions — remain largely unchanged. This article identifies five types of such boundaries, and suggests that all five of them may be overcome when collaborative and creative leaders engage in six boundary spanning practices: buffering, reflecting, connecting, mobilizing, weaving and transforming.

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Innovation's Silver Lining

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Innovation consultant Scott D. Anthony, author of a new book called “The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times,” calls the era we’re in “the great disruption” — a period when competitive advantage is temporary. And “no matter how tough the times, innovation happens,” Anthony observed.

Learning from emerging markets

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Looking for new strategies for doing business in the recession? Consider strategies employed by companies from emerging markets — where economic volatility and constraints on consumer disposable income are commonplace.

Networks of innovation

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Two innovation experts see great potential in “creation networks” that include companies from a variety of regions with specialized technical expertise.

Showing 1-20 of 32