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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The successful business of copy-pasting!

Copy-Paste (CP), the most commonly used Information Technology (IT) action, frowned upon for its lack of ingenuity and the sense of shameless pilferage. It would be a faux pas to believe that CP is a new idea born of IT while the moot point here is CP as a concept is agnostic of its pertinence to any particular industry. That basically gives it enough wings to take us back in time, even to the time of human evolution, if I maybe so bold to add. Visible copying, be it during an examination or while doing business is seriously reprimanded but smart copying on the contrary is extolled. Yes, our contradictory stand is but obvious! 

Since inception, history has been witness to a bipolar business fraternity: Innovators and Followers. Naturally former were known to be trend-setters while the latter took on the unassuming but unasked task of evangelizing former's work to their vested interests. To still come out as bright and ethical at the same time, did bestow innovators with hall of fame while authentically customized the actual work to super stardom. Thus, creating arguably one of the most manipulated words of all times, "best-practice". Every invention of significance, be it Radio, Lasers, Graphical User Interface to Monopoly game, were marred with controversial cases of "theft-of-ideas" and "best-practice-turned-own-innovation". Definitely thereon, Intellectual Property (IP) protection has strengthened multi-fold which curbs "straight-copying". The on-going Apple-Samsung feud is symbolic of the fierce battle around IP but no one could restrict the spiralling market and smart copiers of the business model itself. Bingo! 

While individual companies grapple with borrowed concepts, history has witnessed to countries going on a copy-rampage as well. Post World War 2 during 1950, Japan's per capita income was equal to Somalia and Ethiopia. They had to quickly get on to their feet. Quick wins comprised of copying from American & European institutions and replicating their products. Barring some initial setbacks, by and large Japanese companies improvised on the copied concepts and companies like Toyota even outpaced the industry leaders, GM and Ford eventually. So what if the turnaround had inspirational elements, Japan did a miracle turnaround and the world witnessed it with awe.

When western countries were scouting for an economically viable alternative to base their manufacturing and anchored in China, never ever did it occurred to them that latter could transform itself from a production hub to the largest consumption hub the world knows today. Be it the e-commerce giant Alibaba (whose planned IPO could catapult its market value to $50-120 Billion) or massively popular social networking sites, all are comparable or even edge past western peers who claim to be pioneers of respective business model. China is going through the same stage of copying and reverse engineering which Japan mastered in the past.  At the same time, there are cities like Wengzhou (commonly called Black City) in Southern China, equally neglected by historians and government until its meteoric self-driven rise. Surely the success comprises of some elements of "inspiration" but the notable point is in the way the city was economically built, making it exemplary for larger China. End result is what matters!

Apple and South Korean companies such as Samsung, LG have made smart phone way smarter, enhancing and capitalizing on a concept Canadian company Research In Motion & Finnish giant Nokia introduced.  Per latest available industry statistics, it would be fair to state that the latter two organizations are grappling to survive with even once a minnow, Taiwanese company HTC surpassing them in market cap.

Such examples unravel an extremely interesting and intertwining phenomenon as we gradually peel off ever-changing business layers. "Best practices", "Inspirations" or "straight copy" will continue to be fiercely criticized & ring-fenced but the fact remains that in this world of severe-competitiveness, relentless innovation and ruthless hustle-jostle to the top, end consumers are most advantaged, enjoying the quality, diversity and accessibility resulting from this juggernaut.