Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Innovation @ Wipro Limited - Case study


Innovation is a critical factor for success in outsourcing industry. Vendors have to constantly innovate and offer services to clients that help them to increase their profitability. Innovation is must in the highly competitive outsourcing industry where vendors are fighting for clients and clients are looking for vendors that have innovation frameworks in their organizations and have successfully provided innovative services to clients that not only reduce costs and improve process efficiency but also increase profitability for both Wipro and clients. Wipro technologies have created a culture that regarded the quest for innovation as its norm. Some of the Innovation initiatives at Wipro Limited are discussed in this article.

Innovation Clock Since year 2000
Innovation initiatives were developed based on a study of innovation methods in companies like Nike, 3M, and Home Depot that were reputed for their innovative practices. Wipro considered commercial viability of the ideas as critical to good innovation. Top management developed a framework for innovation and the framework provided guidelines right from the idea generation stage to commercialization of that idea. The innovation process at Wipro was represented through the Innovation Clock which consisted of 12 steps. Creation of an innovation framework followed by identifying the themes to be worked on is the first step. Generating ideas from employees and validation of those ideas by the customer is next. Wipro also realized rewards and recognition will motivate employees to come up with innovative ideas and framed a detailed rewards policy.

Wipro Intranet Web enabled the whole innovation process and was the place where employees posted their ideas. Wipro constituted innovation teams, conducted workshops, and issued innovation process guidelines to all its managers and business group heads. Wipro set up an Innovation council with five gate ways in all its business groups. Innovation council consists of CTO and five permanent members whose responsibility is to evaluate idea and its commercial viability. The five gateways are Idea gate (idea generation), Evaluation gate (idea screening), Commitment gate (resource commitment), Development gate (customer order, business plan & projected revenues) and Volume gate (commercialization of idea). For Wipro Innovation Clock Graphic please refer to end of the post.

Wipro conducted an Annual event called TechForum where employees present papers and conduct demos on their ideas. It set up Innovation center in Bangalore that employed around 200 people in 2003 and provided funds and infrastructure to nurture innovative ideas and turn them into products. Wipro also set up Centers of Excellence that are R&D centers for future technological challenges. By 2003 Wipro through these innovation initiatives have developed innovative products like Flow-Brix, workflow solutions for publishing, i-Desk, Collaboration tool for HR management, etc.

Quantum Innovation Program 2006
The project designed and implemented by Erehwon Innovation Consulting Pvt. Ltd was expected to generate new ideas to drive business growth and motivate people within the company. By 2007 Erehwon Innovation has helped design more than 50 projects, of which four have been initiated, including the Mission 10X program that aims to train 10,000 faculty members at engineering colleges countrywide by 2010.

Applied Innovation Framework
Applied Innovation is the ability to infuse newer ideas and newer ways of doing things into all parts of the organization, and improve business outcomes, often without major disruptive change. It is a 360-degree business approach covering process, delivery, business and technology innovations that help Wipro to work collaboratively with clients for cost take-outs, speed-to-market and new business opportunities. This approach is backed by a 25-year heritage in providing domain-intensive technology solutions. Based on this framework Wipro has internally developed products like eCargo suite (Airline Industry), TINA platform (SOA), etc.

Wipro and EMC alliance unites Wipro's applied innovation framework for developing new solutions and services around EMC's industry-leading information infrastructure technologies to enable more organizations, specifically in targeted growth markets, to optimize their infrastructures, secure and protect their information, and leverage their information to unlock its full potential. Wipro and EMC intend to explore collaboration of industry and application specific solutions in key business areas that solve customer needs related to storage management, information management, content management, and information security.

Innovation Centre on SecondLife.com
Wipro was the first Indian Company in 2007 to set up an Offshore Development Center (ODC) model campus with facilities like client engagement centre, learning centre, 3 floor ODC setup with cubicles, security desk at the campus entrance gate, etc in Secondlife.com. In 2008 Wipro launched a SOA solutions lab – which gives customers an opportunity to explore the impact of SOA in transforming their organizations. In 2009 Wipro launched its 'Innovation Centre' for Testing Services on SecondLife.com, the popular virtual world. The Innovation center will be a replica of the actual lab that is situated at Wipro campus in Electronic City, Bangalore and will provide a one stop virtual view of IP powered solutions offered by Wipro that includes consultancy, test lifecycle accelerators, pre-certification and certification in the areas of Wi-Fi and mobile handsets, test design solutions in banking, securities and Point of Sale, performance engineering and telecom testing.

Innovation Evangelism
Pavan Soni defines an Innovation Evangelist in an organizational context as one who generates awareness of the need to innovate; builds a belief amongst people that anyone can innovate; and provides sufficient facilitation to enable innovation. At Wipro Technologies, Innovation Evangelism happens through a series of vehicles that include: Wipro’s Innovation Camp, Innovation Bazaar, Story Book on Innovation, Systematic Creativity Workshops, and Inflection Point newsletter, etc. Each of these started as experiments and then through learning got institutionalized. Key learning are: enrollment of the stakeholders; creating a semi-structure knowledge sharing environment; enabling a market of ideas, talent and capital; having a constant and consistent communication; transparency in operations; and taking a more scientific approach towards creativity; among others. One of the areas of further investigation is on measuring the direct and indirect returns of investment for each of these vehicles.

Global Innovation Tournament
Wipro Technologies and Knowledge@Wharton together started conducting this tournament in 2010 which selects the most innovative managerial "tools" that companies can use to improve their business by increasing revenues, reducing expenditures and improving customer experience. The goal of an innovation tournament is to pit competing opportunities against one another. The judges consistently filter out the weakest ones until only those with the highest profit potential remain. Karl Ulrich says the panel judged the innovations on four dimensions: Novelty, Feasibility, Track record and Overall potential.

The Innovation Tournament is the brainchild of two Penn business school professors, Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich who authored the book entitled “Innovation Tournaments:Creating and Selecting Exceptional Opportunities.” The book’s premise is companies should view and structure the innovation process “as a collection of opportunities.” After the success of first tournament in 2010 Wipro is conducting the tournament again 2011.

Wipro Innovation Success
Wipro believes businesses are facing challenges and opportunities which are very different to what they were a decade ago or even a year ago and the world is looking up to innovation in the triangle of technology, sociology and the environment to help them deal with these changes. Wipro believes it can leverage on its institutionalized innovation culture to push the boundaries for delivering solutions that provide enhanced value and direct impact for their customers. Innovations like India's most powerful supercomputer, a cost-effective Base Terminal Station designed for GSM networks in underserved markets, a mobile switching router for emerging markets, connected home concept and Wipro Energy Manager that uses M2M communication are some of the products of the Wipro innovation culture. Wipro as part of ODC concept legacy has also developed application-based innovations like Flex and Cigma delivery models which are service-based as opposed to resource-based. Source: Wipro website

Discussion points:
  1. Is the Innovation strategy adopted by Wipro since 2000 is successful?
  2. Wipro has created a culture of Innovation in the organization. Did this culture generate revenues for Wipro?
  3. What is the client’s view of Wipro Innovation culture and how did it work for them?
  4. Will Wipro strategy of collaborating with other IT Vendors like Hardware vendors and Research Organizations help it in innovation?
Wipro Innovation Clock 



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