IT looks for reboot with intellectual property – Realsta
PUNE: Companies are focussing more on disruptive technologies by creating intellectual property and investing in reasearch and innovation labs.
When Ashok Soota set up Happiest Minds in 2011, it was with a clear focus on new disruptive technologies. Needless to say, creating intellectual property (IP) was central to this vision then.
“IP creation is very important to us. Currently IP-led offerings comprise about 11% of our business and the aim is to take it to 20% soon,” said Soota, chairman of Happiest Minds. Happiest Minds is perhaps among the early movers in this space, focussing on creating intellectual property as a key differentiator.
Traditionally, IT services firms have stayed away from filing for patents, even if they were creating intellectual property, given that the focus was on services. However, this has undergone a drastic change in the last few years.
GH Rao, president, engineering and R&D services, HCL TechnologiesBSE -1.10 %, said, “On one hand, engineering spends globally today are driven by shrinking product lifecycles, SMAC- driven convergence & connectivity, and the rise of the digital natives. On the other hand, the expectation is for a higher order of services (managed, accelerated, risk-sharing). These two aspects have prompted the shift towards companies (including their ESPs) focusing more on creating IP.”
The company has filed for patents across functions, like engineering analytics that accelerates how analytics is normally done, and in a more efficient manner. These patents are used to enable quick and accurate big data insights.
In the last fiscal, the number of patents filed and held by WiproBSE -0.19 % increased by 50%. In its annual report for last year, Wipro said, “We have a dedicated unit to drive nonlinear revenue growth by leveraging IP-based products, platforms and solutions as well as through automation and innovative commercial constructs and delivery models. Our investments in emerging technology spaces of AI, Data Analytics and Digital resulted in 603 patents last year alone.”
This change in the areas that companies are focusing on is one big reason that creating IP has become so important. Many of them are investing in research and innovation labs aimed at creating IP which are separate from the day-to-day operations of the business.
A few months ago, Zensar launched Zenlabs, a space dedicated to research in emerging technologies which would lead the charge of creating intellectual property for the company. “The availability of technology enables us to innovate for the future. You have to have patents to be competitive, even if you are a services company,” said Sandeep Kishore, MD, Zensar.
He added that the company had filed for five patents in the last 12 months and intended to take this up to 100 over the next three years.
Tech MahindraBSE 0.96 % is another company that has strengthened its focus on creating IP in recent times. The company has been co-creating IPs jointly with customers with an aim to create newer revenue streams for the customer.
“Market is evolving towards products, IP framework and services.And Tech Mahindra has invested in these areas since product alone cannot help you win the game. We have launched Makers Lab programme to boost innovation within the company in areas of IoT and other niche technologies,” said Karthikeyan Natarajan, Global Head Engineering, IoT & Enterprise Mobility, Tech Mahindra. The company also has a ‘Factory of the Future Lab’ in Bengaluru.
Soota points out though that it’s important not to get carried away in the desire to patent every new development. “While it makes sense to patent anything hardware-related, there is no desire to patent new developments in the software domain given the rapid rate of change. At best it has a 5-10 year life cycle.”
So while his company has created a lot of IP, it hasn’t patented all of it. Ultimately it comes down to future proofing your business in a rapidly-changing world. “By focusing on the creation of IPs, companies can facilitate sustainable organisational leadership and enable knowledge creation and protection mechanism. Products and services are increasingly getting more complex, hence investing in IPs will ensure synchronisation of technological innovations with knowledge protection,” said HCL Technologies’ Rao.