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Wipro heads for challenging changes

columns Updated: Mar 22, 2015 22:49 IST
N Madhavan
N Madhavan
Hindustan Times
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There is a fresh round of reinvention ahead for Wipro, India’s third largest software exporter – and fourth largest if you count US-based Cognizant that is practically Indian.

A year ago, Infosys looked like a laggard as Tata Consultancy Services and Cognizant stole ahead in growth, but the arrival of Vishal Sikka as the replacement for SD Shibulal in the CEO’s chair has seen a new dynamism: new human resource initiatives, a bold new venture fund and a smart juggling of services and products.

Wipro announced last week that it had snared TCS veteran Abid Ali Neemuchwala as chief operating officer.Wipro’s current CEO TK Kurien is smart but down-to-earth, the kind of chairman Azim Premji fancies. It is clear that Neemuchwala would have to contend with the unusual prospect of seeing Wipro through three transitions as he prepares to take over the CEO’s chair – as it is expected.

First, he has to shift himself from the TCS way to Wipro’s simple-but-driven culture. He has spent 23 years with the Tatas, whose culture is dynamic but more empowered than that of Wipro.

Second, 48-year-old Neemuchwala has to calibrate his rise with that of chairman Premji’s son Rishad. The 38-year-old Harvard Business School graduate, currently chief strategy officer, is expected by some to join the board as vice-chairman next month – when Neemuchwala is also set to take over his new job.

Third, the IITan has to deal with the tectonic shift of IT services from plain internet technologies to cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). Between them, they are bound to increase the automation of traditionally labour-driven services to a much higher degree. Neemuchwala’s immediate responsibilities have “global infrastructure services” and “advanced technology solutions” in the portfolio. This has “cloud and IoT” written all over it.