Narayana Murthy Outlines Harnessing World Class Technologies for Masses

Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy

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Kolkata, India – Harness technology to better the condition of Indians. That was what Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy urged IITians to do at the PanIIT Global Conference 2012 in Kolkata on Sunday (Dec 9).  


“I believe we Indians can create technologies to improve the lives of people, not only in India, but all over the world. Technology has played an important role in improving lives of people,” Murthy said while speaking at a session on “Harnessing world class technologies for millions.”


Accompanying him on the panel was Hindustan Unilever’s R. Gopalakrishna who tried to present a “different perspective” of how the IITians can do things differently to bring about a change.


Being the first is important, but in the market, lots of seconds and thirds prevail, argued Gopalakrishna, giving the example of the first computer manufacturers who hardly anyone remembers. “There is an impression that product innovation is superior to business system innovation. That is not true,” he said.

Gopalakrishna also referred to the common Indian practice of respecting an indigenous innovation only after it was lauded by a “white guy” like for example, people only took note of the business model innovation of the dabbawalas after someone from Harvard University came and did a case study.


“Innovation depends on the way we look at it. We will call something jugaad till someone from abroad comes and does a case study,” he pointed out.


But what good is innovation if it lands up getting manufactured in China? “There are a lot of problems, politics, bureaucracy etc. You need to make it easy for the manufacturers to make them at the lowest cost,” said Narayana Murthy.


He elucidated how when he wanted to install safe deposit boxes in the campuses, he was quoted a much higher rate by a producer friend. But later when he went to China, he saw a nice safe deposit box in the hotel room (“I always stay in three-star hotels,” he emphasized). It was later sourced and delivered to him at approximately one third the cost.


“There is a lot of efficiency and coordination in China. We should learn the good things and coordinate. That should address the concern that everything lands up in China,” he said.

Murthy also launched Gopalakrishna’s third book, What the CEO Really Wants from You. He urged IITians to “try and become a pioneer in the social field of your expertise.” 

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