Last week I’ve been invited as part of the Future of Work team to attend the “2025 Industry Outlook: Global Forces Shaping the Future” hosted by London Business School. The day brought together business leaders from several industries sharing ideas on the major trends that are forming the industry landscape. Very interesting data and conversation on a range of key areas as demography, society, technology and resources. High focus not only on the challenges but also on who is supposed to address those challenges, therefore the future role of governments, companies and individuals.
The picture at the end of the day was quite bleak, we are leaving in a complex world where trends in different areas interject creating unprecedented challenges, governments are not ready to act fast enough especially when global agreements are required and in this volatile framework only agile companies will be able to survive. Those companies that will be ready to reinvent themselves as fast as possible when facing a new challenge. Innovation was the word of the day.
The reason why I’m bringing this to the table today is that the day left all the attendees with one belief: the future needs highly creative people with unconventional skills. Professionals able to rapidly change structure and focus, with the ability to recognize need for change and to understand the direction to undertake. This requires organizations to rethink their organizational structure in order to incorporate all those people able to react promptly with a vision for the business.
This idea perfectly fits the conversation I started few months ago on the new role of designers, but this time I would like to move this conversation towards the role of emerging economies in the Creative Economy.
I spent a few weeks in India in January, having the chance, as part of the Future of Work team, to work with members from 7 companies: TCS, Wipro, Infosys, Mahindra Mahindra, Standard Charted, Unilever and Airtel. Apart from the big face to face event hosted by TCS in Mumbai, we have been invited for a tour of Wipro and Infosys campuses in Bangalore. This has been an highly valuable chance to understand what is really happening in the “Indian Silicon Valley”.
We already know that India is the world’s outsourcing centre, the world’s second-largest software industry. Its tech outsourcing accounts for more than half of the $300 billion global industry. We know all these things, so it wasn’t a surprise to find highly advanced centers, beautifully organized massive areas specialized in “information technology systems integrators”.
What I didn’t know however, was the existence of a rising indian creative class. All these centers have areas dedicated to design and creativity. Hubs for disruptive new ideas and innovation. India is starting to compete in the Creative Economy. Yes, India was known in the creative world for cinema (Bollywood makes over 900 films a year, making it the world’s largest filmmaking centre), music, game and animation industry. Creativity is part of India’s DNA. But here what struck me most was realizing big investments and focus on advertising, graphic design, product design and most of all design thinking practices.
In a world that is rapidly moving from an industrial economy to a creative one, where the industry screams for highly creative talents able to understand change and rapidly respond to it, where western organizations struggle to adapt their old architecture to this new need and open to new practices and unconventional talent, India seems to be on the right track. This new economy created highly agile organizations able to rapidly understand change and immediately adapt to it. Innovation is about speed after all.
The two main challenges that I see here, that clearly came from the conversations I had with people that work for those organizations, are firstly that innovation and economic growth in India are highly concentrated in three main city-regions: Bangalore, Hyderabad and New Delhi. Secondly the lack of foreign human capital, India is not yet a magnet for talent from around the world. Challenges that India is currently facing and working on. It will be very interesting to see how India will evolve in order to face those challenges and most of all what will be the outcome of it. This visit showed me that India is one of the most exiting places right now in the world where to be, to build, create, explore, invent and innovate.