Interdisciplinary Seminar Series

Title: From Olympics to X-Games: Rethinking Innovation for the Digital Century

Speaker: Swarup Acharya, Alcatel-Lucent Bell Laboratories

Date: Monday, March 28, 2011 12:00 - 1:00 pm

Location: DIMACS Center, CoRE Bldg, Room 431, Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway, NJ


Companies invest in R&D to create new, innovative products to help grow revenues. Traditionally, research and innovation has followed the Olympics motto of "Citius, Altius, Fortius" of pushing faster, higher and stronger, the limits of what is feasible as the means for disruption. However, recent studies show little correlation between the size of investments in R&D and growth of company revenues.

We will argue that one of the causes of this discrepancy is that the enormous technology advances over the last decade has fundamentally scrambled the playing field by making computing and communication (relatively) dirt cheap. Problems that were heretofore not addressable, technically and financially, are now well within reach (such as offering a profitable mobile payments system for users who can spend only a few dollars, or, a glucose patch for diabetic patients that can obviate pin pricks and glucose strips by wirelessly transmitting readings). However, disruption in these environments requires not just technical superiority but technical agility that can balance complex business, customer ability to pay and other factors. In effect, for research to be effective going forward, the more appropriate model for innovation is not Olympics but the X-Games, where the rules for sports such as BMX bike racing and skateboarding are rough and tumble and success requires multi-faceted excellence. We will provide examples of such innovation and also highlight new opportunities in providing wireless access in emerging markets where by rethinking how to innovate, one can fundamentally disrupt the market.

Speaker Bio:

Swarup Acharya is the Senior Director of Technology Strategy at Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent where he is responsible to drive the long-term strategy and research investments. Prior to that, he managed research teams in the areas of data networking, optical networking and IPTV and has made significant contributions to products and services in the Alcatel-Lucent portfolio. He has a B. Tech (Hons) from IIT, Kharagpur, and a PhD in Computer Science from Brown University and will receive his Executive MBA at Wharton, University of Pennsylvania in May. He has authored numerous refereed papers and over 20 patents including one that was awarded the Thomas Alva Patent Award in 2007.

DIMACS/CCICADA Interdisciplinary Series, Spring 2011