Steve Hamm introduces the Wipro Way

By : |November 30, 2006 0

A fellow hack quipped that if Infosys has its ambassador in Thomas Friedman, thanks to Nandan Nilekani, who was the inspiration for the bookThe World is Flat, the company’s arch rival Wipro has its own endorsement in Businessweek correspondent Steve Hamm’s recent release Bangalore Tiger.

That aside, Hamm’s book is both an interesting case study and story of how Bangalore-based Wipro led by Azim Premji and his team of trusted lieutenants, has carefully and consistently honed the company to be a force to be reckoned with, in the highly competitive global IT services arena. Hamm systematically dissects the various aspects of the company right from its core competencies; its unflinching adherence to ethics, cost cutting methodologies; its almost paranoid obsession with metrics and operational excellence and innovation. He reckons that Wipro has set a business standard akin to the HP way or the GE way.

He opines that Wipro follows not a multinational but a transnational model. In this business model, a company performs various corporate functions and types of work at the locations in the world where it can be most efficient.

[image_library_tag 581/19581, height=”184″ alt=”Bangalore Tiger” hspace=”1″ width=”125″ align=”left” vspace=”1″ border=”1″ ,default]

Hamm’s respect and admiration for Wipro chief Azim Premji is evident throughout the book and he takes the reader through the whole Wipro journey right from the point when 22-year-old Premji rushed to India from Stanford University, to take over the reins of his late father’s failing vegetable oil business.

Bangalore Tiger offers a few interesting vignettes and insights into the mind of the usually reticent but sharp thinking Premji. For instance, when Premji is quizzed on the his biggest mistake he made in his business career, he says it is “overdiversification.”

On his focus on the IT side of the business, Premji makes a revealing statement. “The global IT business is 90 per cent of the company. The other 10 per cent is my hobby…I spend maybe 10 days a year on it – the consumer part.”

In addition, the book discusses some never-made-public plans that the company had in the past. Back in 2000, the erstwhile Wipro vice-chairman Vivek Paul and his team came up with an audacious goal that was termed “4-in-4 plan.” This was an audacious goal to touch $4 billion revenues by the end of 2004. But market dynamics and plans proved otherwise and the company touched $900 million instead.

Hamm also dwells in detail on the company’s obsession for cost-cutting, which has become part of the annual company plan – right from Premji’s austerity in travel (he always travels economy class) to some bizarre examples. The company did an analysis of food waste in its canteens and found that it tallied at 85 grams. After sensitizing employees on the wastage, the tally whittled to 45 grams!

Hamm has based his book on extension discussions with various Wipro employees, senior executives, clients and analysts. While the whole book provides a comprehensive look at various aspects of the company, it could have been a good value addition to analyze how the company stacks up against the big six global IT services majors and a SWOT on this front. Otherwise, this book is a must-have for anyone who wants to get deeper into the workings of an Indian company, successfully riding the IT services offshoring wave.

© CyberMedia News


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