The fastest growing economies of the world such as China, India, and Brazil — reffered to as CIB — are becoming hotbeds of business and technological innovation. Why are these countries that until recently were known as sources of cheap labor becoming centers of innovation? It is all about frugal innovation.
What does that mean? These are business and technological innovations that focus on making things more affordable to consumers in these upward bound mega -economies. According to an Apri article in the Economist, the CIB businesses are coming up with products that are a whole lot cheaper than their equivalent in the U.S. and Europe. Examples include the $3,000 Nano car made by Tata Motors in India, $100 laptops initially designed for children in poor countries and $30 mobile phones that provide nationwide service very inexpensively.
What is happening now is comparable to what happened in the early 1980′s when the American auto industry woke up one morning and found that the Japanese cars were cheaper than American cars and they were equally reliable. The initial assumption of the U.S. automakers was that the Japanese cars must have been subsidized by government. The reality turned out to be something else, a business innovation. The Japanese had come up with a new way of building cars known as “lean manufacturing”.
Products based on Asian-frugal innovation are fast becoming popular in the richer western economies, including
Amercia, in an era of belt-tightening in the aftermath of the Great Recession.
Innovation blowback at work