From the outside

S. PREM KUMAR

At The Smart CEO, we’re gearing up to launch version 2.0 of the magazine with a revamped business model. Having run the magazine for 44 months and interacted with 600-odd senior professionals, it was time to take advantage of all the new technologies out there to scale up our business. Basically, it was time for us to reinvent ourselves.

The past few weeks, I have been travelling around the country meeting with several people to get their perspective of the new model we’re working on. I met with an entrepreneur from the content KPO industry, a CEO-turned-angel investor, a senior manager at one of India’s largest print media companies and a renowned business leader, among several others.

The feedback I got from each of them was varied. I heard several positive, encouraging statements and some wonderful suggestions. One of them said, “the new business model needed to have a little more SMAC to it,” referring to the social, mobile, analytics and cloud revolution we’re seeing around the world. Another suggested I go a few steps further in solving a deep customer problem that we identified during the discussion. A serial entrepreneur suggested a highly risky yet game changing idea that I could pursue. The capabilities needed to execute this were right up our ally and had several synergies with the magazine’s CEO-generated content.

In any case, the six or so meetings I attended made me think about my version 2.0 in much greater detail. I put together a document highlighting all the positive and negative comments made and analysed them further. Now I have two variants of my Plan B. Of course, the market is yet to be tested, but these conversations went a long way in helping me modify some incorrect assumptions I had made.

I am narrating this experience here simply because I found the exercise extremely useful. Of course, one needs to keep in mind that any feedback or advice needs to be taken with a shaker of salt. A person’s prior experiences might have pushed him or her to make certain assumptions, which need not be true in our context. Having said that, I am convinced that an external sounding board helps much more than it hurts.

The usefulness of these meetings gave me an idea for a cover story in the magazine. Consulting Editor, Poornima Kavlekar and I brainstormed the idea of getting a senior business leader to engage in a conversation with entrepreneurs of a growth company. Our focus was to get them to ‘exchange notes’ with each other that would, help either of them get an idea or two from the conversation or, at the least, make for an interesting read. Grandly, we decided to call this genre of articles ‘creative dialogues’.

In this edition, we present to you the first in the series of creative dialogues, a conversation between Cognizant’s Lakshmi Narayanan and the senior management at Vortex, India’s first solar-ATM manufacturer. I must tell you that both parties involved loved the freewheeling conversation and to us, it simply means one more wonderfully packaged section added to the magazine.

Hope you enjoy reading this edition of The Smart CEO.