If there is one constant in the world of business these days, it is disruption. While this may sound terribly clichéd, it is the reality which most businesses are confronted with. As the global economic landscape changes rapidly, new technologies appear on the scene and old corporate structures are torn down, companies and business leaders are realising that the new world order will be dramatically different. It will need them to be nimble, innovative, and tech-savvy. This was the overriding theme of discussions in the newsroom at Fortune India when deciding this month’s cover.
Consequently, we broke up the cover theme, The Future of Business, into three parts. In the first part, we decided to take a close look at how Indian conglomerates—which in the Indian context are also called business groups—are future-proofing themselves against the background of what happened at one of the world’s most-admired conglomerates, General Electric, which saw a dramatic meltdown recently. Are there Indian versions of the GE collapse waiting to happen? Are Indian business groups strong and structurally sound enough to withstand the vagaries of competition and the risks of diversification? Or is there a need to reinvent the conglomerates model which many feel is broken?
Aveek Datta, together with other writers, spoke to a number of business leaders and leading academics and came to the conclusion that, whatever be the shifting of shapes, conglomerates as a concept are not going to die anytime soon.
A second important trend we discuss in the context of the future is the way Indian business families are choosing to deploy their surplus wealth. Ashish Gupta, Jui Mukherjee, and Deepti Chaudhary find that family offices are emerging as a major tool by which India’s uber rich are attempting to increase their wealth. Many prominent business families have now set up robust family offices, with the next generation managing them, and are co-investing either with other family offices or even with angel investors who guide them on attractive investment options in the startup ecosystem. Many family offices are even open to the idea of taking over entire companies and running them: think the Munjals and the Burmans who made an attempt recently to take over Fortis Healthcare in a bitter bidding war. But the new-look family offices are much more than mere investors for families. They do a plethora of other things and are emerging as a key element of the Indian business landscape.
The third, and equally important, element in the discussion on the future of Indian business relates to whether India can emerge as the next big innovation hub. Arnika Thakur and Debojyoti Ghosh take a detailed look into the manner in which many multinationals have made India the base for cutting-edge research. From clean fuel to artificial intelligence, from Royal Dutch Shell to Microsoft, India is becoming the chosen laboratory for a number of innovations which can power businesses in the future.
I also urge you to read Jui Mukherjee’s story on how Indian VFX is coming of age, with companies like Prime Focus and actor Shah Rukh Khan’s redchillies.vfx emerging as important Indian names in the global entertainment space. True, VFX in Indian movies still has some catching up to do when compared to Hollywood. But cutting-edge VFX from India is no longer Mission Impossible.
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