Mumbai: The Tata group plans to spend more on research and development (R&D) while shifting its focus from process innovation to product and services innovation, said Mukund Govind Rajan, brand custodian and chief ethics officer of Tata Sons Ltd, the group holding company.
This is in line with the Tata group’s emphasis on growth through a culture of customer-centricity and innovation under new chairman Cyrus Mistry.
The Tata group spent around $2 billion, or roughly 2% of its overall revenue, on research and development (R&D) in fiscal 2013, Rajan said at a news conference in Mumbai on Friday. With the renewed focus on consumers and innovation, the proportion of revenue dedicated to R&D is likely to increase, he said, without disclosing any numbers.
Citing an example of how innovation within the Tata group was becoming more customer-focused, Rajan pointed out that in 2006 when Tata Innovista, an initiative of the group to recognize and facilitate innovative ideas began, only 40 ideas dealt with new products and services compared with 448 in 2013.
The Tata group highlighted some of the consumer-focused innovations that various group companies had introduced. One of these was a health beverage known as Activate launched in the US by Tata Global Beverages Ltd and its joint venture partner The Tornante Co. The innovative part about the beverage is that the cap of the bottle, which has been patented, releases nutrients into the drink when it is opened, ensuring that the shelf life of the health product is extended.
The Tata group said in a statement that it had introduced and implemented 1,305 such innovative ideas across its 70 companies worldwide in fiscal 2013. Sunil Sinha, chief of group quality management services at Tata Sons, said in the statement that 70% of the contributors of innovative ideas in the same period were between 20 and 40 years of age.
Sinha also said during the event that while the emphasis in the first few years of Tata Innovista was on generating a large number of ideas to spur the spirit of innovation, the conglomerate would henceforth utilize its resources only on a select few ideas that had the potential of creating a big impact.