Planting the Start-up Gene in Enterprise IT

Every company in its inception is a start-up. However, excelling and remaining relevant in an ever changing, competitive market eventually transforms ‘start-ups’ into enterprises that follow a set of conventional/’safe’ methods of doing business in order for them to become profitable and remain so in the long run.  Conversely, the current start-up buzz is posing fundamental questions to the enterprise. Can enterprises imbibe innovation, agility & turn ideas into products or solutions in  a short period of time?  Can enterprises showcase the DNA that kept them ahead of the pack when they started their operations?

Times have changed, and so have the methods of doing business and there is much to learn from start-ups today.

PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Start-up’ India movement has provided a much needed impetus to budding entrepreneurs and encourage them to establish their own businesses. With tax exemption of first three years and faster patent registrations, this is just the start to a whole new business environment. The DNA of start-ups is booming with innovation. Leaders and thinkers across the world have pondered the subject but what got my attention is this one by Rorie Devine whose view is that three things that Corporate IT can learn from Start-ups 1. The right attitude, 2. The ability   to constantly test and measure, and 3. To not think like a dinosaur. This last, in my view is key. Rorie says and I quote ‘To be agile and survive, big companies need to organize themselves as a collection of small, independent, self-organizing teams doing the right thing at the right time.’

Innovation is only possible when the organization and each member of the organization is committed and passionate to the idea of breaking through the clutter and to shine above. I can well argue that for most part Enterprise IT has imploded (into itself?) as a result of the very size, complexity and process adherence that has made it enterprise quality in the first place. That said, there are a large number of enterprises that continue to break boundaries at the technology infrastructure level in order to deliver noteworthy innovation for business. The theme for NetApp’s annual innovation awards this year is ‘Planting the Start-up Gene in Enterprise IT: Accelerating Innovation’ celebrates this breakthrough spirit every year, but we believe that there is a new urgency driven by, but not limited to, shrinking budgets and increased competition. We at NetApp want to recognize the efforts and risks taken by start-ups to out think the ecosystem. There are definite insights to be gained from India’s successful Start-ups, particularly around how they have engineered their technology backbone to plan for innovation and mushrooming growth – within the new business ecosystem.

This takes us to the idea of organizing oneself for growth and innovation. We at NetApp tell Start-ups to plan for growth, and to therefore organize their IT infrastructure into easily expandable additive blocks that can scale up or down easily. The value of using a set of smaller parts for best performance and efficiency is not new. Advance planning is critical to their survival as unlike larger organizations they cannot afford to make errors and see themselves going into a dark abyss. Trust forms a valuable component to their success which comes with the assurance of providing quality products and services to customers.

And for the enterprise, it is important for us to break ourselves into small competitive groups within – to build, create & spur disruptions in the market place – accelerate innovation and become a platform for new ideas like the start-ups.

Guest post by Parag Amalnerkar, Netapp