On the passing of CK Prahalad -core competence and bottom of the pyramid

Professor CK Prahalad passed away last weekend on 16th October, 2010. He was one of the most influential business thinkers of our time and has influenced me a great deal.I think two of his ideas are particularly fascinating. These are core competence of the corporation (co authored with Gary Hamel) and Bottom of the pyramid (with Stuart Hart).

The question of outsourcing and re-defining what is core competence in the globalized,internet connected world is the kind of long term “evergreen”application that makes the core competence idea so powerful. The Internet came after the core competence idea was put forth and yet informs some of my own forthcoming academic papers.

The other great idea of Professor Prahalad¬† that will endure as long as there are poorer market segments in the world is the “bottom of the pyramid” idea. Marketers have always assumed that the less wealthy cannot afford products-therefore it’s really not worthwhile to think of the less wealthy (about 5 out of 6 Billion people on earth!) when formulating business and marketing strategy. For example, we have heard more groans than cheers as 30 million US Bottom of the pyramid have been added to the health care system from the health delivery chain. In fact, there are unique opportunities for insurance companies,doctors,pharmaceutical companies that a bottom of pyramid approach can bring.

Here is a video where Professor Prahalad extrapolates how core competence considerations have changed in the new world. Managing talent and managing information technology (IT) will count in the future says Professor Prahalad.IT is becoming cheaper and yet organizations are struggling to align the new IT with the business and its global strategic intent.And managing talent is even more difficult when talent at every level of the organization must do more than just routine stuff. Business will miss CK Prahalad and continue to be enriched and inspired by his ideas.

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