EXCLUSIVE: AWS' India head believes 'time to value' is the only metric to measure innovation

EXCLUSIVE: AWS' India head believes 'time to value' is the only metric to measure innovation
The measure of innovation is the ratio of the time it takes to development a new product against the value it has to offer customersUnsplash
  • President of AWS India and Amazon Internet Service across South Asia, Puneet Chandok, believes that 'time to value' is the only efficient metric to measure innovation.
  • It is the ratio of amount of time it takes for an innovative idea from an organisation to reach its customers against the value it offers.
  • The 'era of the virtual enterprise' had leveled the playing field, and whoever is the first to the punch will take the cake.
  • "The way to innovate is to double your failure rate," he said at the Business Insider Global Trends Festival 2020.
The term 'innovation' is the buzzword of the decade. However, it remains one of the most important aspects of business, albeit misunderstood, according to the President of AWS India and Amazon Internet Services across South Asia, Puneet Chandok.

According to him, the only truly efficient way of measuring innovation is by 'time to value.' "Creativity is thinking of new things… Innovation is doing things. Innovation is making things happen," Chandok said at the Business Insider Global Trends Festival 2020.


He asserted that a company can have a great idea and can see its value for customers too. But without execution, it's more likely that somebody else — probably a competitor — will beat them to the punch.
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Which is why 'time to value' is the only metric that matters, according to Chandok. It is the ratio of amount of time it takes for an innovative idea from an organisation to reach its customers measured against the value that the product has to offer.

"If you're taking months and quarters to get your ideas to customers, I can promise you there's somebody out here who's thinking about getting those ideas to your customers faster," he explained.


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The way to innovate is to double your failure rate
Innovation in the 20th century is an intentional process with a structure to it. According to Chandok, two types of innovation exist — continuous and discontinuous.

Continuous innovation is when you upgrade an existing product to make it better, and discontinuous innovation is when you create new processes, products, or services altogether.

For both of them, Chandok believes that the primary pillar to assess whether it's a good idea or not is to keep the customer at the center. In addition to that, the business should also invest in a culture of experiments and give its employees the freedom to fail. "The way to innovate is to double your failure rate," he quipped.

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This doesn't mean conducting the same mistakes repeatedly but learning from each experiment to increase the chances of success for whatever comes next. "Most large organisations today will embrace the idea of invention and innovation, but they're not willing to suffer a string of failed experiments," said Chandok.

If there's a fear of failure, employees are more likely to make safe bets, resulting in successful experiments, but they won't be innovative. "If you know in advance to a high degree of certainty what the outcome of an experiment will look like, it's not really an experiment," he explained.

High-velocity decision making
Having the failure to fail and the drive to innovate also means making quick decisions on the fly. According to Chandok, at Amazon, the rule is to make decisions with 70% of the information that you wish you had.

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"If you're good at course correcting, if you're at learning, if you're good with failure — you will develop judgement and continue to move faster," he said.

The era of the virtual enterprise
Innovation happens "First gradually and then suddenly," Chandok explained, quoting Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.

Examples of this have already been with Blackberry, the company that more-or-less invented the concept of a smartphone. Innovation happened in the US steel industry after World War II facing competition from Japanese manufacturers.

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Come 2020, COVID-19 has changed the way the world is working, how companies are selling, and how customers are consuming. The playing field is also being leveled between startups, small companies, and tech giants. Anyone can set up a business from anywhere and find customers all over the world.

"I call this the era of the virtual enterprise," said Chandok.

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