India Markets closed

"Digital Transforms Everything, Including Wipro" : Rajan Kohli, Sr.VP - Wipro Digital.

Wipro Digital Office, Bengaluru.

Anjana Rajguru  met up with Rajan Kohli of Wipro Digital to get a low-down on the company and its future plans.

Rajan Kohli is a happy man. As Global Head of Wipro Digital and Consulting, 45 year old Rajan has steered Wipro’s youngest baby on a vertical growth path and with its acquisition of one of world’s biggest strategic design firms – Designit, has made the organisation a one-stop shop for digital strategy, design and technology. Wipro Digital is the youngest bright star in Wipro’s constellation.

Kohli is an old trusted Wipro aide, having spent all his professional life here from the day he was picked up from IIM- Bangalore way back in 1995. Rajan says “I don’t feel I have been here for 22 years. Wipro offers me an opportunity to move around every 3 to 4 years, it feels fresh. Otherwise one can get bored”. Rajan elaborates “I was the head of our Global Banking business when this digital opportunity came my way which I readily accepted as this was the final frontier for Wipro and success here may define the future for our industry”. Rajan was in Bengaluru in the beginning of his career, managing banking clients in India; and then moved to the U.S where he managed banking and insurance clients in both the West and East coasts. He came back to Bengaluru in 2010 as the Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro before moving in as head of Banking in 2012.

About Wipro Digital

Speaking on the need to create Wipro Digital, Rajan says “We were very clear from the inception of the unit that if we were going to do something in digital, it had to be very differentiating. There was no point clubbing some of the existing service line and calling it “digital”. With Wipro Digital, what we were trying to do was to evolve this new way of working which could be quite disruptive to the current IT services model which thrives on operating in a pyramid with a very instruction led way of delivery. If this would have been within the existing service line, it would have been very tough to manage both these vastly different types of business. Secondly, it may never have scaled because this way of working is so different from the current framework. Thirdly, we were going to make a lot of investments into this unit and it is very difficult to make investments in a unit which sits within some bigger unit where you are trying to optimize costs. We still wanted to leverage all the assets and technology capability across Wipro hence we created a framework where Wipro Digital cuts across all service lines and works within the digital eco-system to deliver outcomes for our clients. Over the last one year, having scaled our tools, methods and ‘ways of working’, we are beginning to transform our existing client engagements as well as winning large engagements. That was our organizational design and we continue to work towards Ambition 15X20″.

Rajan opines “What really helped us at the inception was that we didn’t take something else and try to reshape it ; we grew this unit ground up with the talent we wanted and the organization design that we think can enable true digital transformation for our clients. That’s what we preach to our clients – to “Do Digital”, you have to “Be Digital”. We created this new unit by leveraging only those existing processes that we wanted and developing custom process and challenges the existing thinking and to disrupt the legacy business model – even ours “.

Rajan Kohli In WD’s Design Pod.

Defining Digital

On quizzing Rajan on his definition of digital, he says “Digital is as much about connecting physical stuff. If your value chain consists of, and only ends with bits and bytes, then you are not connecting the full value chain. For example, if you go to a store, you want to pick up something, then why should your experience be less richer than when you pick the same thing from the web. If you go to a store, nobody recognises you but when you go to say Amazon, it instantly recognises your preferences/ likes and makes recommendations. We believe it’s the end to end customer journey which is crucial; whether it is in a physical store/ online or mobile experience, it does not matter. You must look at the customer experience holistically, both physical and online. Smart players are now looking at end to end customer journey, especially in retail, banking and media”.

Rajan feels that India is very well positioned on the digital journey because of the Adhar card, Jan dhan bank accounts, the prevalence of mobile phones and more recently the demonetization effect. He says “Even mobile data is very cheap in India now. For all these reasons, I believe India is on the verge of a digital explosion”.

On Acquiring Designit

Wipro acquired the leading Danish global strategic design firm Designit in 2015. Rajan says “We realised early on that if we were to build design teams, then why would world class designers want to work for a company which is essentially a technology company? We felt the need to acquire a truly world class strategic design firm which would then also become a platform for us to hire new talent and as expected, not only were we able to hire better designers, post the acquisition, even some of the engineering talent looked at us and felt that we were serious about this space and we even attracted better engineering talent”. “The entire value proposition about design and engineering working together hand in hand to deliver outcomes becomes complete after the acquisition. Engineers want to work with designers because they want to get early on into the thinking of how products get built; designers want to work with engineers because in the past they would design something and somebody would mess it up. Now, from both sides there is synergy”.

Design and digital transformation business is growing fast and in the last 18 months, we have had significant grown in the size of our unit. For every designer, we expect to add 8 to 10 engineers. Design and engineering work together. Rajan adds ‘Designit is a good asset for digital transformation because they understand business processes and have a heritage in services design. They can think of product innovation but can equally apply their chops to a day to day , boring and clumsy enterprise processes. That is why they are so good.’

On Positioning Wipro Digital In The Digital Design Space

Rajan shares “Our positioning is really about what we provide – full end to end outcome “Think it, Design it, Build it, Run it”. Wipro Digital is one player who can take you through that entire journey. Our differentiation is that we are customer-experience led … that comes from Designit. Very few large scale system integrators have this capability. Secondly, we have this deep engineering capability that we have built over the last three years that is able to bring the change at high speed and velocity. We are able to work closely with designers…to really scale that journey. Thirdly because we are system integrators, we can solve big technology problems. We are amongst the two or three players who can bring all these three elements – customer experience led innovative thinking and velocity at global scale and complexity. Also clients don’t want to deal with three different companies and lose context along the way”.

On Achieving The Targeted $ 1 Billion Revenue

Rajan says “We are meeting every annual revenue milestone we set for ourselves and we will do so in the coming years as well. We are absolutely on track. Due to our acquisitions, the goal post has shifted now and the overall digital eco-system for Wipro is already 21% of Wipro.’’

Challenges

Rajan opines that the challenge will be with regard to “continue to keep our DNA as we scale even more”. He says “We have a vision, a mission and we are hiring so many people from different places. So how do we continue to keep our shape and culture while growing so fast? Right type of talent is in short supply. We need to keep our differentiation to attract the best talent”.

Future Plans

On Wipro Digital’s future plans, Rajan Kohli shares “In the first year we created this unit and hired the right leadership, and in the second year, we scaled and honed our ways of working. In the third year, we built a strong connection with rest of Wipro eco-system, and the service lines, and started influencing each other and transforming the traditional model. During the fourth and fifth years, we will further strengthen the bridge between Wipro Digital and the core Wipro service line, creating more of shared vision for all of Wipro. Charter is not just digital transformation for our clients but to be an agent to help transform all of Wipro”.

Wipro Digital is one of the newest kids in town with a different attitude. Rajan shares “At Wipro Digital, we have attempted to create a more open, less hierarchical and more agile way of working. We are still young ..a lot of it is still forming”. Even Wipro Digital’s stunning office space reflects the new-age culture.

With Rajan Kohli at its helm, Wipro Digital sure has got a good start and is on a great run.

Images Courtesy : Peyush Agarwal.