Customer-centric innovation, commitment to establishing and maintaining long-term local partnerships, and localised operations are the keys to success for companies looking to thrive in emerging markets, said Ken Hu, Deputy Chairman of Huawei, speaking at the 13th Nikkei Global Management Forum in Tokyo.
“Emerging markets are the engine of global economic growth, but how to capitalize on opportunities in this challenging environment is a persistent question on the minds of CXOs around the world,” Mr. Hu said. “To succeed in emerging markets today, companies need to focus on the concept of ‘glocalization’ – combining their globalization efforts with local insights and considerations. This means having keen insight into each market’s unique social and economic environment by truly understanding its customers’ core needs. Only then will companies be able to create the innovative business models necessary to win over customers.”
“Innovation in emerging markets means practicality and adapting to local requirements; whether it requires adopting cutting-edge technology or just thinking outside of the box,” said Mr. Hu. “Huawei’s emerging market experiences have included a ‘subtraction’ innovation approach, which focuses on doing away with seemingly standard features. In markets where construction is a barrier to network development, telecom equipment is customised to withstand harsh outdoor weather conditions and housed in an ‘open room’ that has no roofs or floors. This type of innovation reduces the costs required on civil engineering works by 50 percent.”
The concept of reverse innovation, where solutions designed for emerging markets are then brought to developed markets has been used by Huawei as well. A site-sharing solution originally developed to tackle low utilization rates of wireless base stations and increase operational efficiency in India, was so successful that it has been deployed by telecom operators in Europe.
“Speed is another important factor when it comes to innovating successfully in emerging markets,” said Mr. Hu. “To become more nimble, Huawei has localized its management capabilities by forgoing its traditional top-down management style and empowering those in the field to be truly inventive and make key business decisions based on their specialized understanding of the market. Huawei is also establishing global centres of competency to better leverage its global resources, create local job opportunities, and contribute to local economies.”
“If practical and customer-centric innovation is the driver of success in emerging markets, a commitment to grow together with local stakeholders is the foundation for business sustainability,” he said. “Huawei’s strategy is focused on partnering with the local business community through local employees, sharing resources with local partners, as well as providing opportunities to develop local talent that will form the next generation of telecom leaders. Our goal is to work together to develop innovative products and solutions that enrich lives in emerging markets.”