We are doing 70-plus internal projects based on artificial intelligence

Wipro’s new Group president and chief operating officer Abid Ali Neemuchwala is busy changing the way business is done at India’s third-biggest software company. Four months in his new role, Neemuchwala, who spent 23 years at Tata Consultancy Service, India’s biggest software company by revenue,  is seen as a potential CEO candidate at Wipro. In an interview with FE’s PP Thimmaya, he shares his learning in the first four months of joining the company, and the road ahead. Edited Excerpts:

How has been your experience as COO in the last four months?

It has been great. Wipro is a good organisation and there are a lot of opportunities. The culture that attracted me was what is called the spirit of Wipro. This is an organisation which is high on value systems, business ethics, governance, transparency, very good people. This is a customer centric organisation that will go above and beyond to do the right thing for the customer. An innovative and entrepreneurial place where people have the opportunity to do what they think would be a game changer.

What strategic initiatives have you started in Wipro?

I spent the few months understanding the opportunities and challenges. I have initiated a few things. One is centred around simplification which is primarily around operational simplification of processes in everything we do in terms of our customers, employees, partners. This is basically to increase our velocity to respond in the market. The second major change is around delivery realignment i.e., how to improve our  ability to respond to needs of our customers, retooling our people etc. The third is around integrated service where we bring our individual line of services into one. The fourth aspect has been putting leadership in place in markets like Latin America and Africa, which will not only be locations to deliver services to our global customers but also to get local business.

How are you increasing the scope of cutting-edge technologies like automation, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) at Wipro?

All these come under the auspices of  Wipro Digital and there is good traction. We are doing over 70-plus internal projects based on AI. There is a lot of engagement with clients through our Holmes solution which is a cognitive intelligence platform. There are a number of engagements with Wipro Digital which is redefining customer journey reengineering. For example, we do a lot of work with banks in the area of know your customers (KYC), which is essentially BPO work but now there is lot of robotics automation being employed.

Is Wipro experimenting with these technologies internally first before taking them to the market?

We are doing both. There is so much of opportunity to internalise and create a proof to concept as all of this is cutting-edge technology. One of the differentiators of Wipro is that we not only use technology that we develop internally but are also engaged with a lot of hi-tech firms in these technologies. So it is important that you don’t try and experiment first time with the customer, either we do it internally or in our labs.

Will increasing automation to deliver services mean lesser dependence on people?

I think dependence on people will continue to be high but will be more on people who are able to configure those robots, automation compared to actually doing the work. There will be a shift in the kind of talent or people we need to have. Further there will also be a difference in the kind of services people will provide and what technologies like automation or robotics will do. We have always been a strong people transformation company. We enable employees to upgrade themselves and also give opportunity to work on new technologies. The component of training is effective only when they have the ability to practice what they have learnt.

Is the industry in early stages of deploying advanced technologies?

We are not in experimental stages. For example, mobile is a reality where one can do their entire banking transaction. We are doing engagements in the area of internet of things.

What challenges are you encountering as you bring about these changes in Wipro?

Change management is one my strengths. When you look at the organisation of our size one should be able to reach across the employee base, motivate them and bring energy for that change. Further, everybody should relate to that change. I think, here communication becomes a very important aspect. Wipro is a people centric organisation where we are talking to employees in very remote locations, different geographies and some of them do not speak English.

The most important thing is that the changes I am making is resonating very well which is helping them to motivate to do better.