Indian Outsourcer Wipro's Strategy: Innovation Push, Global Hiring, Acquisitions

Wipro's marketing chief talks about the offshore service provider's global strategy, which includes acquiring a U.S. vendor, hiring U.S. and European IT workers and warily eyeing China.

With the IT services market as competitive as ever, every vendor is working hard to differentiate itself in the field of global competitors. With $3.4 billion in revenues and 72,000 employees, Bangalore-based Wipro is a known quantity in many circles. But a Wipro survey found that its brand recognition is just 50 percent among U.S. IT buyers, compared to 100 percent for the likes of IBM and Accenture. So Jessie Paul, who was hired as Wipro’s chief marketing officer in 2005, is hard at work on building a new global identity for the Indian giant.

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Senior Editor Stephanie Overby recently talked to Paul, who for the past decade has been a marketing executive for Indian companies iGate and Infosys as well as Ogilvy and Mather Advertising. She spoke about Wipro’s challenges presenting itself to the U.S. market, its recent expansion everywhere from Mexico to the Middle East, its efforts to hire and train American workers and its new mantra: “applied innovation.”

Stephanie Overby, CIO.com: What is the message you’re trying to send to U.S. IT leaders about Wipro?

Jessie Paul, Wipro CMO: We’re working on building brand awareness in the U.S.

It’s driven by a need to differentiate ourselves. In the past, we could say we’re an Indian offshore provider. Now everyone else has set up shop in India, so now we have to figure out what makes us different not only from Infosys and TCS, but also from Accenture and IBM.

We did a study to figure out what we could use that others hadn’t talked about and was relevant to us. One of the things that differentiates Wipro is that for the last nine years we’ve had an innovation council. Any employee could say, “I have a great idea,” and we would fund it for three years. We had some real success with that initiative as a way to get ideas from the ground up.

At the corporate level, we’re one of the few service providers who has a target for revenues from innovation. We have a goal of 10 percent by 2009. At the end of [March 2007], we had 7.5 percent of our revenues generated by innovation, so we think we’ll hit our goal.

The other thing is that one-third of our IT services revenues comes from R&D outsourcing, which allows us to offer end-to-end IT service and gives us access to new technologies.

Putting it all together, we came up with the message of “applied innovation.”

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