Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I have not attended to my blog for more than two months. I became busy, number 1, and also was lazy in putting in new thoughts here. In the meantime, Bulbuli and Sambit came from England on their annual sojourn and spent ten days with us in Delhi. We went with them to Orchha and Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh for a short three day outing, which was very good, though both Rupu and I fell ill afterwards down with viral fever. They returned to UK on 21st January, but we could return to work after about a weeks bed rest. I hope to write a bit on our MP trip later (along with posting of some photos).

Today, however, I plan to paste some other writings of mine about events which need to be remembered. First one is regarding an unfortunate event of road rage that I got involved in the month of November, and the second one is about my visit to WIPRO, one of the top three Tech Service Companies in India. Here they are:

Road Rage & Physical Assault on Friday, the 17th November

It was 7-30 in the evening. I was driving in my Corsa Sail car on the Aurobindo Marg towards Saket. My wife was also with me. We were going to see a film at the PVR Saket. As I was crossing the green traffic light at the Adhchini crossing, two young men in a motorbike (none of them had any helmet on) jumped the light ( coming from the opposite direction) and took a sharp U turn at high speed. The bike came in front of my car, which I stopped by using emergency brakes. The bike slipped and the riders fell down on the road.

I was not driving fast, the speed of my car was only around 25 KM/hour. I am quite sure that the car did not hit the bike, as I did not find any visible marks on the front side of the car later. Anyway, as soon as the event happened I rolled down the window on my side, to find out if there has been any injury to the riders. The driver of the bike simply got up , rushed to my side of the car, and before I could say anything, hit me a number of blows with his right hand fist. With the other hand firmly on the glass widow (so that it could not be rolled up), he used choices of unprintable abusive language, demanded money and continued hitting me. My mouth was filled with blood, one of my teeth broke and my spectacle flew off. I realized that this man was a ruffian, and since no policeman was around, and neither did any other car stop to help me, I somehow managed to drive off. The motor cycle followed me at high speed and again came in front of me and made me to stop at the Press Enclave road crossing. My window was unfortunately still down, and the man came and hit me again and tried to pull me out of my car. My wife was by this time frantic, screaming for help and holding me back so that I am not pulled out. She brought out a 500 rupee note, which I handed over to him from my window. Then I managed to roll up my window , but the man continued to thump on my car glass and bonnet. With the help of a few by standers and fellow vehicle owners, I managed to drive off. I could hear that the bike rider was demanding two thousand rupees. He again followed me on his bike , but after a while he gave up. Thus a terror situation that had lasted for about ten minutes (but seemed to be interminable then) was at last over.

The registration no of the motor bike was noted down by my wife. It was DL3S AY 3572.
published in IMI Newsletter of January,2007)

Professor Arya Kumar Sengupta*

The email message that I received one morning on a bright and festive day in October was one among some thirty I receive nearly everyday. It originated from one Priya Nambiar, an executive from WIPRO, someone I did not know. Inside there was an invitation to participate in a one day event titled “Executive Briefing on Innovation @ WIPRO” at Bangalore, e-signed by the Chairman of the Company, Azim Premji himself. Soon I got a call on my cell phone from Priya, confirming that invitation which had apparently gone to some twenty Academics and Innovation Leaders (as Priya defined them) from all over India. I was pleasantly surprised, and somewhat elated, that my earlier efforts at IIT Delhi as the Managing Director of its autonomous industry interface organization, the Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT), and the initiator of the Technology Business Incubation Unit (TBIU) there, the first of its kind in an academic institution in India, was recognized in one of the topmost Technology Companies of India and the world. I accepted the invitation, of course.

The event took place in the third week of November, and we were all there at Bangalore as the guests of Azim Premji, all expenses paid. Among the delegates there were Professor D Phatak from IIT Bombay, Professor RK Arora of IIT Delhi, Professor Jajoo of IIM Ahmedabad, Professor Sadagopan of IIIT Bangalore, Professor Rajat Moona from IIT Kanpur, Dr Subramanium, DDG of NIC, Dr Gautam Bose of NIC, SR Balasubramanium from HDFC Bank, Vishnu Varshney, MD of Gujarat Venture Finance and others. It was quite a gathering, representing tons of academic excellence and professional acumen.
*The author teaches Knowledge Management and Entrepreneurship at IMI and is the Programme Director for the 3 year part-time Post Graduate Programme in Management (PGPM) for working Executives.

WIPRO, many do not know, is a 60 year old Company. From its humble beginning as a vegetable oil manufacturing company in the 1950s, today it has become one of the world’s leading technology service providers. Its annual revenue in the last fiscal year (2005-06) was more than $ 2.4 billion ( Rs 106 billion), of which the combined IT business accounted for $ 2 b. It ranks as the third largest Tech Tigers of India, behind TCS and Infosys. Among the three, WIPRO has arguably the broadest array of Technology Services to offer, including software programming, tech systems integration, systems management, business process outsourcing, R&D outsourcing, consulting, and hardware product engineering. It employs more than 60,000 people, of which its global tech business accounts for 54000; some 14000 were added in one year last fiscal. Its clientele and technology/business collaborators ranges from some of the biggest names in the world, GM, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, HSBC, SONY, Royal Dutch Shell, and GE. WIPRO has pioneered a strategy of developing expertise in a wide range of different industries, from banking to retail to manufacturing. It has presence in 45 countries, including sales offices, and centres for BPO, software and hardware development and engineering in 14 countries, all around the world, apart from its vast engineering infrastructure in India. It is ranked 7th amongst the top 100 global outsourcing firms. It is listed in the NYSE. It is truly a Transnational Company of the twenty first century.

The invited delegates of the Executive Briefing Meet at Bangalore were given a glimpse of the WIPRO’s vast and multifarious activity canvas in a succinct yet effective manner. We stayed at the WIPRO Guest House at the Sarjapur campus of the Company, that also housed its corporate office. Early in the morning all of us was driven down to their sprawling Electronic City Campus that had more than 25 office complexes where some 40000 people are engaged in Knowledge work. The ambience there was more like that of an academic or a research institution, ultra-modern, high tech, disciplined and extremely efficient. We were given presentations in the conference room, and taken to some of the research labs, the Talent Transformation facility (for corporate training) and the Global Command Centre, which is the hub of the global technology service delivery activities of WIPRO.

WIPRO began its foray into Information technology in 1980 as a traditional maker of computers , one of the first firms in India, but later diversified into software programming and electronics engineering services on hire. In 1990s, when the global competition forced many western multi-nationals resort to outsourcing their IT and business processes in a big way, WIPRO was one of the first organizations in the third world to come up with the necessary wherewithal to quickly adapt to the requirements of so-called virtual corporation. Though it started with low cost routine software programming service, today WIPRO is one of the most capable tech service outfits. It has over the years developed a strong engineering R&D capability, from designing of semi-conductor chips, to creating real time operating systems, to writing software applications, to designing of user interfaces. WIPRO often plays the role of a product integrator. When “there is a need for somebody for tying together a technology from the US, the manufacturing from China, and, perhaps, intellectual property from Israel, that’s us” At the core of WIPRO’s strategy is the transnational business concept that enjoins the Company to perform various corporate functions and types of work at locations in the world where it can be most efficient. A transnational corporation also must set up infrastructure that facilitates communication and collaboration between the far-flung outposts. A number of Indian Companies have successfully joined this bandwagon; WIPRO is one of the leaders in this game. Yet only about 3% of the $700 billion global IT outsourcing was off-shored to Indian Companies in 2006. The potential for Indian tech companies is huge, and WIPRO can be a good model for many others to follow.

There is little doubt that behind the outstanding success of WIPRO is their slavish dedication to satisfaction (more appropriately, delight) of its customers and collaborators. In recent times, WIPRO’s most abiding proposition has been on Total Outsourcing. It is a long term partnership wherein the technology service provider takes the ownership of sustaining and managing the client’s IT strategy & operation; based on a service level agreement, it is a value optimized way to ensure that the client’s IT transforms its Business. There are a large number of corporate clientele with which WIPRO has such total outsourcing relationship.

The other strongest contributing factor is their obsession with innovation. Indeed, innovation has been a buzzword in WIPRO in almost all its functions from its beginning. Over the years, WIPRO’s innovation journey has covered focus on R&D and market to identifying new business opportunity, to business extension, to business transformation. It has been claimed that WIPRO has been sustaining competitive advantage and consolidating its leadership, primarily because of its thrust on the culture and spirit of innovation, for which there is an established and systematic innovation management process in place. The Innovation Initiative at WIPRO is a grassroots effort, comprising idea generation, idea incubation through to successful execution. At least 5% of the Companies revenue in the 2006 fiscal has been estimated to have come from the innovation pipeline. WIPRO aims to grow to a $ 5 billion company in the next five years, for which it is targeting at achieving breakthrough innovations and a new Quantum Innovation Programme has been launched.

A notable feature in WIPRO’s HR management is its emphasis on skill and knowledge upgradation. Every WIPRO employee undergoes knowledge upgradation training at least 12 days in a year. In the present continuously changing business environment, the thrust of WIPRO is in helping people to transform themselves to a higher level of skill and evolving knowledge in new areas. A large infrastructure has been developed for such purpose, and innovatively, it is called Talent Transformation. Every year WIPRO recruits thousands of young graduates, but interestingly many of them are from the science stream rather than from management or engineering. A training programme of more than three to four months later, consisting of classroom teaching, on the job assignments and boot camp exercises, the new recruits get totally transformed into WIPRO professionals. There is also a Wipro Academy of Software Excellence (WASE), which is more like a university within a company.

A one day exposure to the WIPRO way obviously cannot really do justice to the plethora of activities the Company is engaged in. One is however impressed by the environment of professionalism, innovative spirit and unbounded enthusiasm of the WIPRO combine. The management style in WIPRO is truly expressed by its Value pronouncement, appropriately named the Spirit of WIPRO, which comprise an Intensity to Win (thrust on customer success), Acting with Sensitivity (respect for individual) and Unyielding Integrity (commitment, honesty and fairness in action). Azim Premji, the Chairman of the Company, with whom we spent an hour in the late afternoon, represents the WIPRO spirit.


a) Power Point Presentations on Introduction to Wipro (by KS Viswanathan, CEO), Total Outsourcing (by Anand Shankaran, VP Global IT Outsourcing) and Managing Innovation (by Divakaran Mangalnath, CTO)
b) Steve Hamm, Bangalore Tigers, Tata McGraw-Hill, New Delhi, 2006

1 comment:

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