Sunday, October 22, 2006

Happy Birthday PDMA!

This marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Product Development Management Association. The conference opened with “Happy birthday to you” for PDMA.

PDMA membership has reached 3100 and has int’l affiliates all over the world. The sun never sets on the product development management community nor on the PDMA!

Keynote Presenter: Capitalizing on Opportunities in Emerging Markets
Presenter: Sam Pitroda, Chairman, The Knowledge Commission of India

Sam was introduced as the father of the “Telecom Revolution”.

“To survive for 30 years is itself an accomplishment,” was his congratulatory opening remark.

He was asked to talk about capitalizing on opportunities in emerging markets.

Only 20% of people on earth live in the developed world.

As a lad in India he heard President Kennedy’s announcement to put man on the moon and embarked on a journey to come to the US just to be a part of the excitement. The journey he had was the journey of many from the developing world. It’s been a great learning.

Information Technology has brought about openness, decentralization, etc. and as a result social transformation. It has opens new horizons as to what’s possible, what’s feasible.

China and India are coming online as markets that must be paid attention to. The number of people born in India every year is enormous. It would be like adding another Australia to the world every year.

These emerging markets need basic infrastructure. Three technologies will be critical:

1. Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
2. Biotechnology
3. Alternate energy

Two examples of the kinds of revolutions we’ve seen in emerging markets that have been possible against all the odds (gov’t corruption, etc.).

The first example is from Bangladesh. This year’s Nobel Prize for Peace went to someone who did work on microcredit. He realized that women in Bangladesh had trouble getting loans. With $27, he distributed it to 42 women w/trust alone. This was 30 years ago. Today 100 M people in the world use microcredit. Unicef has distributed $6B in Bangaldesh alone.

Then there was mobile telephony made possible by microcredit. Phones were used by women as an instrument of earning. They would walk town-to-town with these phones to help make phone calls and the women could make a living out of it.

The second example is long-distance telephony. He had tried to make a call to his wife overseas and couldn’t connect. So he decided he would solve this problem. The key was a different model from increasing telephony density (the US model). He decided to focus on access. Don’t focus on giving everyone a phone; instead focus on public access located in very convenient locations.

He had breakfast with Jack Welch in India. Welch said, “I’m here to sell engines”. Sam said, “we’re not buying engines, I’m here to sell you software”. Jack said he wasn’t there to buy software. There was awkward silence for 90 seconds. Jack finally said he wanted to hear about software in India. And so it goes.

“Product design came to my rescue”. That was good comedic relief. His story was that he was down and out, walking down the street, when he noticed Radio Shack selling something he had patented. So he sued them, won, and got the money he needed to get back on his feet.

Concluding remark: 5,000,000 people in this world are waiting for your new products, your ideas, your innovations.

“I wouldn’t have spent $70B on the war in Iraq, I would have spent $70B on human development there.”

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