For somebody, who has travelled a lot and is well educated in the best of worlds – that being Sweden’s Chalmer’s University of Technology and currently a teacher at Rutger’s Business School in USA, when time – Fahad Khan, owner of Gotham Technologies and CEO of Vendevo, a consultancy and outsourcing company, also a recent winner of the AllWorld 8th fastest growing accolade and the less recent ‘CES Product of the Year award,’ is a person who loves innovating, and inspiring others to do the same.
However, with a culture already steeped in the copycat culture – reminiscent of colonial times of this country’s past, when we said, did and acted on all what the ruling authorities said- which persists even to date – is something that is making us lag behind. Having said that, Fahad Khan recently sat down with IDG Pakistan to share from his own experience, what has worked, what has not and how to can one innovate.
“Innovation requires a culture that is conducive to innovation,” says Fahad. “In Pakistan, as a culture, we are not innovative. We have a lot of competition, but no innovation. You actually are imitating. It’s a copycat culture. It’s true in India as well.” Pakistan is entrepreneurial, and thrives with a lot of competition, in contrast to countries such as Germany and Sweden, where Fahad Khan had the opportunity to work as well.
“What is required is urgency at the national level to innovate, because even though we offer consultancy services,” says Fahad, ‘here at Vendevo. We also innovate. And the challenge with that is that it becomes difficult to balance both, however, despite that the benefits from an innovative culture are multifold. Not only is it thrilling being associated with a company with accolades from AllWorld listing and the CES Product Award 2011, thanks to the innovative culture we keep around here. It reaps financial benefits, with copyright laws being a formidable force here in US, with the government retaining the writ here.
‘The lack of innovation also seems to be existent in Pakistani culture because of the lack of copyright laws,’ reflects Fahad Khan. In a country rife with problems associated with law, there can be many factors that can hinder the quality of life in the nation. However, this lack of innovative streak in the country can be more demotivating, as there ceases to be the dynamism, and creation of jobs. It is important to compete in the world market. While we might not be lacking in anything else except the tendency to innovate, its absence creates a great divide in the world.
Information is power. The number of security breaches carried out today is many and cut across individuals, corporations and governments. The top of the charts on the Google Transparency Report include USA with about 10,918 requests made by it in 2013, followed by India with 2,691, Germany 2,311 and France 2,011. It goes to prove the real wealth in today’s times, that being information. The more novel this information, the more chances there are to get ahead of others.
A country simply cannot adopt all practices and trends from other nations, and this is true for any industry. The dynamics of every country are fundamentally different namely the demographics, climate, landforms, therefore copying some other nations trends and other practises isn’t a wise idea. Being the programmers that we all are by default, the ICT professionals should concentrate on finding local solutions to local problems, not the other way round.
Fahad Khan has an idea to change that culture. ‘Education is one way to change that’ he quips. With our defense budgets heavily revolving around defense, it is quite difficult to imagine a different Pakistan, with increased education budgets. However, with much optimism we can proudly say that a lot of efforts have been made toward this end by the civil society. Let’s just hope those gaining an education bring about a change.
As far as entrepreneurship is concerned, a great portion of it for the ICT industry recommended by Fahad Khan is innovation. However, how to sustain it requires two very important factors, as shared by Khan: Entrepreneurial competence and entrepreneurial commitment, the former classifying the skills necessary to become an entrepreneur and the latter implying the dedication required to see it through. Not to forget that a great part of entrepreneurship also requires a touch of the eccentric persistence, entrepreneurs are known for. So, while Pakistan might be actively entrepreneurial, it is not necessarily innovative, which is what makes the world go round, in the first place, therefore regrettable.
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