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Wipro Changes its Approach to “Fast and Uncertain”, with Increased Focus on Developing Effective Ecosystems

This week Wipro held its first analyst day in the U.S. in over 18 months. During this time, Wipro has conducted a strategic review of its approach to the market, and decided to change its method of engaging clients and prospects.   

First CEO TK Kurien opened by describing Wipro’s view of the market:

  • Enterprises were created prior to the current digital era. As a result, customers cannot engage easily or effectively with legacy enterprises operating with old style operating models and operations systems
  • Operations vendors (IT services and BPO) will be disrupted. “Slow and certain”, Wipro’s previous model, where offerings were developed and tested to assure quality outcomes, is no longer a successful strategy. Wipro describes its current model as “Fast and Uncertain”, where ideas are tried, then adapted over time, as a flexible strategy more appropriate for rapidly changing times
  • The journey with clients to a digital operational development cannot be undertaken at full maturity. It requires Wipro, partners, and clients to slowly adapt while also continuing to provide current services. To accomplish that Wipro needs to maintain and aggressively grow existing operational relationships. Wipro will aggressively pursue new business to establish larger market share, because existing clients provide a base from which transformation can be launched (i.e., upsell). Kurien did not discuss how he intends to pursue new business before transformation. Presumably aggressive pricing and terms would underpin such a grab for marketshare
  • Traditional BPO will be disrupted, with value levers extending beyond labor arbitrage and simple process re-engineering. While this has been a theme for several years in the industry, Kurien indicated community sourcing (open source software, cloud computing, and shared services) as opposed to vendor specific offerings will drive enterprise operations much more so in the years ahead than has been the case to date.

To address these trends, Wipro is changing its own approach. Key initiatives include:

  • Digital POD, Wipro’s methodology for clients designing new operations environments (both platforms and processes).The process draws on strategy, design, and technology. Wipro is building technology and design capabilities in concert with partners to support clients’ evolving business strategies. Specifically Wipro is currently building three digital POD centers in London, Bangalore, and the Bay area of California. These centers will work on client engagements designing new operations environments for clients. As examples of how this might work, Wipro referred to several tier one banking clients, hit hard by the financial crisis and culling businesses and operations, who are redefining their business models to adapt to changing regulations and competitive conditions. Automating manual processes, modernizing legacy platforms, and maintaining ongoing delivery requires third party help from a combined IT/BPO vendor. An early example of what Wipro wants to do, according to Kurien, is a top 4 bank in the U.K. that Wipro has helped over the past three years improve its retail customer support using platform and operations change and support. During that time the client moved up from fourth to first in customer satisfaction ratings.
  • Alliances and partnerships:
    • Open source: Wipro has committed to invest over the next two years to further develop its open source capabilities. Open source development has become a key area of investment for banks and other global 100 companies. Open source is used by enterprises for its low cost and ability to deliver custom functionality.
    • Wipro is building on its existing experience and joining open source communities to better identify best resources, also to help formulate community priorities
    • Corporate VC fund to invest in tech start-ups. Wipro has made three investments so far
  • Move its own business model from labor arbitrage to process arbitrage (global standardization and greater automation of processing). Wipro has seen their clients’ focus for operational change shift from cost of resource to total cost of ownership (TCO), over the past few years and believes this trend will continue and accelerate.

Wipro articulated that, as a company, it is responding to the fact that businesses in its target sectors (banking, healthcare and retail, to name just three) are having to change their entire operational delivery methodology to adapt to the changing environment. Wipro also highlighted that this requires to talent - both technology and operations talent.

And, like many other IT services providers, Wipro is looking with increased interest at alliances and partnerships. Partnering however requires a wide net to succeed. Most partnerships are weak, some are strong, and a few drive strong value creation.

The challenge with partnering is how to drive partners forward to execution when they have competing demands/opportunities. Successful partnerships require the alignment of goals and culture, which in turn requires due diligence on potential partners and clear signalling of intentions and values.

Participation in communities, such as open source, is table stakes to access and due diligence, but not the trigger to execution. Wipro has indicated it will support partners by identifying sub-domains where it will be active. Wipro has a large client base, something developers typically do not. Wipro can create a market for open source developers’ services, while providing its clients with quality assurance and scale.  IT and operational support. In the long run, we believe Wipro will need to selectively partner with relatively few organizations and people for open source capabilities. Ultimately, Wipro will need large scale in-house complementary resources to capitalize on engagements. Leveraging the independent resources of alliance partners to deliver operational change to clients will demand that Wipro bring its own operational scale to the table, not merely IT skills. 

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