Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, May 29, 2004
Industry & Economy - Entrepreneurship
Indian entrepreneurship on a high
Though founded at different times during the 20th Century, these companies came of age in the period immediately before economic liberalisation and adroitly used the opportunities offered by deregulation to grow their businesses. At the same time, they built strong organisational capabilities such as project management, quality of execution and speed.
Clear vision and self-belief, team-based decision-making structures, the willingness to stretch just that extra bit, and the ability to learn from their experiences are other important characteristics of these companies.
Ranbaxy was already an important player in the Indian market before 1991 but its international business was restricted to the export of formulations to the Soviet Union and bulk drugs to other countries. When in the early 1990s the then Ranbaxy CEO, Parvinder Singh, embarked on his attempt to make the company a global, research-based pharmaceutical entity, few believed that he would succeed.
The cost of creating world-class research and development facilities, setting up an international network of manufacturing units and gaining access to distribution in key geographies was believed to be prohibitive.
Critics felt that this approach would distract Ranbaxy from its strong position in the local market and the company would end up being neither here nor there.
But Parvinder Singh remained firm in his resolve, and planned in his approach and his vision continues to inspire the company even after his untimely death.
Infosys is another company that has remained faithful to its philosophy and strategy. Believing that meeting expectations on a continuing basis is more important than the hype of being known as a divergent thinker, the Infosys management team has emphasised excellence in delivery, whether it be onsite or offshore.
In the process, it has built strong relationships with customers and a predictable revenue pipeline.
It has had its blips as well, such as over-investment in real estate in the mid-1990s and high exposure to dotcoms during the Internet boom, but it has always learnt fast, made mid-course corrections and bounced back on its feet.
The turning point for Wipro, a mini-conglomerate with interests in fast moving consumer goods, fluid power and vanaspati, was its entry into the computer hardware business in the early 1980s. This gave Wipro the "technology" tag and even more a breadth of skills in IT-related services that is perhaps unequalled by its Indian rivals.
Few remember today that Wipro's entry into software was through the product route and it was only in the early 1990s, after this approach did not succeed, that Wipro made the switch to software services.
However, the company quickly made up for lost time and, today, Wipro's name is firmly linked to outsourced R&D services.
Bharti's entry into the telecom business happened in the first flush of liberalisation of the telecom industry, when the government allowed the manufacture of push-button telephones for the new digital exchanges installed in the mid-1980s.
But it made its name in telecom services when it bid aggressively for the Delhi cellular service licence in 1992 and subsequently became the first private telecommunication service provider in basic telephone services, in Madhya Pradesh.
Through successful bids for new licences, the acquisition of smaller players, a focus on quality and accessibility, and aggressive marketing, Bharti is today a powerful player in telecom with a nationwide presence in GSM cellular, basic telephone and long-distance carrier services.
All the four companies have remained very focussed. Their diversifications have been related to their core business for instance, Infosys and Wipro into business process outsourcing, and Ranbaxy into specialised health services. All four also remain wedded to a defined course of action, making necessary changes along the way, but not wavering from their belief in the choice they make.
All have been global in outlook in terms of adopting global standards, the best technology and operating on global scales. Except for Bharti, the others have adopted global markets as well, though it must be said that with India being one of the most happening places in telecom, there has so far been little point in seeking other markets.
All these companies have been successful in broad-basing their management teams with professional managers such as Ashok Soota, and later Vivek Paul, in the case of Wipro, and D. S. Brar and Brian Tempest in Ranbaxy. Infosys and Bharti are the creations of first-generation entrepreneurs while the Wipro and Ranbaxy of today have been re-shaped by the second generation.
All of them can take credit for building successful business organisations that are good role models and form the bedrock for the further growth of India Inc.
(The author is Associate Professor of Corporate Strategy, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. He can be reached at email@example.com)
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | The Hindu Images | Home |
Copyright © 2004, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line