Wipro Technologies: Out of the Frying Pan

By Joshua Weinberger Print this article Print

Complete dossier on Wipro Technologies.

1300 Crittenden Lane, Mountain View, CA 94043
(650) 316-3555

EMPLOYEES: 13,420 worldwide (2,050 in the U.S.)

Azim H. Premji
Essentially "India's Bill Gates," the country's richest man joined Wipro in 1966 when his father (who had run the firm) died.

Richard Garnick
CEO, Americas
Joined the company in 2001. He had been Chairman and CEO at Global Digital Media.

Vivek Paul
President, Wipro Technologies
Had been at Bain and PepsiCo, and CEO at GE's medical-equipment division, before coming on.

Offerings include: hardware and software design and development; system verification and validation; interoperability testing; systems integration; customer support; and infrastructure support. Also licenses out intellectual property regarding wireless networking. Wipro Spectramind is the Business Process Outsourcing division.

Out of the Frying Pan
Wipro's one of the giants of the Indian software scene, but it's no lumbering behemoth. "They acted a lot more like a smaller company," says David L. Andre of savings network Upromise. "We were new to the offshoring model—one thing that impressed us was how hard they worked to win our trust and to adapt to our way of doing business."

Not only was Andre swayed by Wipro's focus within Upromise's financial-services niche—the firm satisfied his other concerns as well. "They have a good security model. We reviewed their facilities onsite, and their disaster-recovery plans are top-notch. Combine that with their experience in high-security applications, and it made a winning combination."

Blackwell's Book Services' Cloy Swartzendruber also values Wipro's expertise. "They cover a wide array of technologies—in an organization of our size, we can't possibly maintain that kind of breadth of expertise," he says. And his results? "It's not that no mistakes are ever made, but [Wipro] really minimizes that and has good review practices."

Farmers Insurance Group learned a few lessons from its intial Wipro project, the insurer's first move overseas. "We hadn't set up all the right [service-level agreements]," says vice president James Fridenberg, but that was all part of his company's learning curve. Since then, the relationship "has really kind of blossomed"—in 2003, Farmers will save $6 million on its projects with Wipro and two other firms.

For PacifiCorp's Dennis Goodman, it's all about depth, not breadth—Wipro "keeps trained personnel on the bench, just in case, as a back-up."

Still, no matter how capable the firm might be, "you have to have a certain critical mass to go to Wipro," says Andre. "If we didn't have [critical] security needs, we might have been able to go to one of those smaller firms, who might have been able to do better for us on price—and who might be more responsive when we say 'jump'." But, says Andre, "unlike other places that want to completely shield you from the offshore [staff], Wipro was pretty amenable to crossfertilizing the teams."

Wipro doesn't shield itself from overseas talent either. The firm just purchased U.S. consultancy NerveWire and the global utilities practice of American Management Systems—slick moves for a 57-year-old former cooking-oil company.

This article was originally published on 2003-06-01
Assistant Editor
After being on staff at The New Yorker for five years, Josh later traveled the world, hitting all seven continents in a single year. At Yale University, he majored in American Studies, English, and Theatre Studies.

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