Wipro Digital pushes “inside-out renovation”
Wipro Digital is perhaps the most prominent and intriguing vehicle set up by one the Indian technology giants ain order to ride the digital wave.
This week, Teknowlogy Group caught up with the senior management at the company’s latest analyst update on its progress.
At a group level, Wipro is on course to top $2.7bn in its current financial year from “digital” offerings, which cover digital consulting, cloud-related services etc. The Wipro Digital division, which has more than 5,000 employees, represents a sizeable chunk of this total.
Wipro Digital really put itself on the map with the acquisition of Danish design consulting firm Designit in 2015. Wipro was the first of the major offshore heritage firms to acquire a Western digital consulting firm, and there was some concern about how the two cultures would fit together.
It is fair to say that the integration has gone well. Sensibly, Designit has been kept at arm’s length from the wider Wipro group – it has retained its brand, its offices and its internal systems (sticking with Workday rather than being assimilated onto Wipro’s SAP backbone). Designit MD Humberto Matas told us that this has been a key factor in helping it continue to attract and retain new talent into its ranks. Designit has doubled in size terms of both headcount (it now has more than 500 designers) and revenue since Wipro took control. Note that Designit is also able to collaborate with Wipro competitors, where the circumstances make sense.
It has also expanded into new key markets including the UK, Australia and the US, where it has been integrated with another acquisition. Wipro added 35-strong, San Francisco-based design agency Cooper in October 2017, and rolled it into Designit, where it has doubled its headcount and significantly improved its profitability in the first year.
The relationship between Wipro and Designit has become symbiotic. The company cites the example of a payments company, which was an existing Wipro customer, where Wipro brought Designit in to help overhaul its process to merchant onboarding and partner engagement. On the other hand, a major European insurance carrier approached Designit about helping them change the way that agents worked to support new regulatory demands, and Designit brought Wipro into the conversation.
The Wipro Digital proposition has evolved in the last few years, and it was interesting to hear that much of its work now focuses on what divisional president Rajan Kohli calls “inside-out renovation” rather than an “outside-in approach.” PAC sees this as perhaps THE major challenge facing businesses in the next phase of their digital journeys. Many have achieved gains through the development of standalone digital labs or hubs that sit on the periphery of the organisation – in order to foster a culture of innovation that is not stifled by legacy thinking or processes. But how can you harness this progress in the heart of the business, or bridge the divide between “thinking digital” and “being digital?”
The key to success, according to Kohli, is enterprise agility, citing the examples of Lego, Philips and Adidas as brands that have been able to survive and thrive due to their adaptability. Wipro Digital has reworked its portfolio to help clients make meaningful operational change: moving from a project management culture to one based on engineering, and shifting from a focus on products to value streams.
Wipro Digital’s sets out four “pillars” which it sees as crucial to supporting this change: model (a new operating model based on experience-led team design); mindset (a workforce imbued with a culture of innovation that leverages initiatives such as crowdsourcing); method (rapid iterative learning and decision cycles supported by agile and devops; and machinery (continuous integration and delivery, UI modernization, microservices etc).
The vendor takes a twin-pronged approach to effecting change, working from both top-down (establishing a transformation office, aligning leadership, operationalizing objectives and key results) and bottom-up (identifying early adopters, assessing digital fitness, and establishing a digital academy to support the evolution of the workforce.) Wipro Digital is unable to name clients (although its roster contains a lot of high profile brands from the financial services, manufacturing and telecoms sectors in particular). However, it says that success factors on past projects include the creation of an accountable and empowered team, the implementation of clearly defined success criteria, and the establishment of a “north star” – an overriding and defining goal of the programme that is developed through design workshops.
The acquisition of Designit has proved to be a smart move by Wipro Digital. It has taken time for some parts of the wider Wipro organisation to truly understand and embrace the different approach that its designers can bring to the table, as it has often challenged the traditional mindset around opportunity pursuit. The organisation’s twin strengths of design and engineering put it in a good position to support the heavy lifting that many organisations are facing as they shift their digital focus from the edge to the core of the business.
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