I do quite a bit of travel to China for speaking engagements as well as other Asian innovation hotspots, and I can tell you that some of the most forward-thinking innovators are blazing trails that corporations in the West will soon follow. Forbes recently highlighted the innovative culture and opportunities there, in a new article titled, “Why Should Companies Look To Asia For Innovation?”
Here’s an excerpt:
Large companies may find that the best place to look for these ingredients is Asia. Here are three characteristics which make Asia a fertile ground for innovation.
In developed economies, which enjoy a high standard of living, people innovate from a position of sufficiency. In many of parts of Asia, people still struggle to live without electricity or clean water. The continent is home to 70% of the “Base of the Pyramid” population which lives on less than $8 per day. Business people in these markets are attuned to the issues faced by the local population. They understand the struggles of daily life firsthand. Entrepreneurs in these locales innovate from a position of need. They build and invent to shift the living standard in their society, while operating within very difficult constraints. This forces creativity and ingenuity. Reliability, efficiency and renewability are automatically part of the mindset and design process because excess resources simply don’t exist.
Asia has a diverse mix of people who observe different religions and speak different languages. Coming from over 25 countries, people have different income levels, value systems and daily routines. This diversity is reflected in consumer choices. Diverse buyers force a product or service to work in several settings. Products and services in Asia must be able to cross borders and function in multiple settings. By default, product development in Asia means that language requirements, pricing issues, service teams and other localization issues must be dealt with upfront. This level of adaptability is baked into the innovation process, making other market adaptations easier down the road.