"Productive Innovation - The Key To MSME Growth," Says The BBNIA Advisor

Continuing our series, Business Beyond 2020 we headed towards the northern part of our country to the beautiful Himachal Pradesh and had a hearty conversation with Mr. Rajender Guleria, Advisor to BBNIA – Baddi Barotiwala Nalagarh Industrial Association, in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh. Celebrating its 25th year, BBNIA is the biggest industry association in North India representing about 550 industries with the likes of Pharma, Textile, Automotive, Paper, Chemical and Packaging industries amongst various others.

"Productive Innovation - The Key To MSME Growth," Says The BBNIA Advisor

This association was initially formed to have the Policy Advocacy with the government due to the issues regarding infrastructure for the industries in that area. The association has been active particularly in building the capacity of the entrepreneurs in the area. The initiatives have been focused on creating a lot of knowledge centres and providing exposure to various industry experts both in India and abroad.

Current industry sentiments 

Though the industry is hit by the economic slowdown, Mr. Guleria feels that, “these effects are cyclic but what’s actually affecting the sentiments of the industries are the Regulations and most of our time is consumed in fulfilling the obligations presented by these regulations. The NGT (National Green Tribunal) is actually creating a lot of hassle and confusion in the industry.” He is very clear that they are not against the environment and would want to adhere to these policies, but these kind of changes require time and effort for industries to change their working methods which cannot be done overnight.

The industry’s efforts in gearing-up for technology advancements

With the rise of AI and other technologies across the globe, he believes that there is very little knowledge of these advancements in not just Baddi, but across all the Indian industries. He says, “associations like CII, FICCI are creating platforms for industrialists to come to terms with these advancements like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence,” which he calls Industry 4.0 and believes that is the Future. 

During the recent visit of some association members to Germany, he saw a great deal of involvement of Universities and most of their work being in Artificial Intelligence which he feels is lacking in the Indian industry scenario and needs to be addressed at the association level so that the entrepreneurs are future ready. 

Key challenges of SMBs to bring innovation and attract new talent 

Mr. Guleria believes that the research and development in our country is still at a nascent stage and needs to go a long way before we become thought leaders across mediums. This has also led to the start-ups facing a lot of issues like regulations and financial challenges. He also believes that it is imperative that we need new talent in the system and how can we modify the old formats of running businesses. He adds, “Failure is actually viewed very negatively in the society, although failure is actually part of learning in other societies.”

Carving the way forward for Indian companies to keep up with competition

The simple solution to this is competitiveness and productivity. He says, “We have to change the way of thinking and challenge the status-quo, and the entrepreneur will have to learn that because if we think the way we were thinking for the past ten years, we will not be able to grow. Once we challenge the status-quo, a new thing will always emerge which will be able to help you reduce costs.”

Scripting the stepping stones for an entrepreneur’s success in the new age markets

“Organisational behaviour, I believe is the key to become successful. It teaches you how to manage your business and people, have better communication, learn to motivate people, and what kind of leadership style an entrepreneur needs to apply. This every entrepreneur has to learn as they are not protected anymore and will have to learn these skills to survive in these times and future,” shares Mr. Guleria. The way to do it, as he says, is either with experience or through an expert or a theory, as a theory has been done on some basis and surveys.

Importance of innovation and company culture

Innovation, he believes, is process driven, and one can do a lot of innovation within their companies without much investment. It is important that the companies create that kind of culture in the company that an individual questioning a process should not be taken negatively but as an opportunity to create a culture where old processes are questioned and new effective systems and practices can be implemented.

Evolution of the MSME sector beyond 2020

Mr. Guleria shares that even though the sentiments of the industry are currently low, “but we are confident this demand will grow and this cyclical slowdown will go back and most of the industry will be back to the earlier growth cycle by the second quarter of 2020.”

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