Key Takeaways From A Discussion With Wipro’s CEO

I recently had a great discussion with TK Kurien, the CEO of Wipro Technologies, at the company’s campus in Bangalore, India. During the discussion, TK shared his thoughts on Wipro’s future. He sees the following as critical to success:

  • Addressing segment leadership challenges. There are limits to labor arbitrage, automation overriding cost advantages, and the increasing complexity of client requirements. Wipro knows that it has to move beyond showcasing technology capabilities to focus on addressing the challenges that CMOs, CHROs, and other business leaders face today. The first step in this direction is to ensure that the company’s messaging gets aligned to the different ports of call (CMO, CFO, CHRO, etc.) and how this helps to address the challenges for customers.
  • Developing a culture of performance. TK aims to develop a culture of performance based on improved employee efficiency and productivity. Within a few days of our discussion, the company announced that it is planning to undertake its biggest-ever restructuring exercise to become learner and make the organization look more like an hourglass than a pyramid. The company will take 12 to 18 months to complete this mammoth restructuring effort.
  • Strengthening the digital services portfolio to target changing tech spending. As the boundary between IT and business further blurs, business units are getting more directly involved in technology discussions to address digital disruption. Given the pace at which digital disruption is happening, business-led technology decisions will get further attention from firms globally. Toward this objective, Wipro is gearing up to strengthen its digital services portfolio. Recently, the company merged its analytics and advanced technology businesses and created a new business group to take advantage of the digital opportunity.

After years of experimentation (e.g., joint CEOs and management shuffling), TK seems to be getting things back on track for Wipro. While addressing segment leadership-related challenges and strengthening the digital services portfolio are steps in the right direction, I believe that TK should also consider growing Wipro inorganically — especially around the acquisition of digital products and services — for future growth. In addition to developing a culture of performance, Wipro should also focus on developing a culture of entrepreneurship through which employees identify opportunities for nonlinear revenue growth and can sacrifice some pay to personally invest in the project and share in the rewards when it delivers a return. To do this, Wipro should encourage a culture of risk-taking and entrepreneurship and set examples for others to follow.

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