Wipro: Head in the cloud – Atul Sood

The cloud computing revolution is gaining momentum. Around the world, businesses are outsourcing IT services to specialist third-party providers, rather than relying on the more traditional model of in-house servers and computer rooms.

One of the key drivers behind the trend is the growing need for businesses to react quickly to peaks and troughs in the market. New tools and programmes must be speedily added and then rapidly deployed across multiple sites.

Wipro, a leading global information technology, consulting and outsourcing company, has made rapid strides in advising and enabling enterprises across the world, to transform their businesses through successful adoption of cloud technologies.

"In an increasingly connected world, businesses want to move fast when it comes to market response," says Atul Sood, vice-president at Wipro. "But, for the many firms still relying on internal IT systems, it can take at least three months to roll out a new product. This is too slow. By the time the product is launched in the market, the opportunity may have passed."

Sood leads a team that engages with Wipro's global clients in their journey to cloud adoption by focusing on solution definition, solution creation, customer acquisition, and solution delivery. Wipro's leadership position in cloud is based on its relentless focus on creating differentiated solutions that make the "business of IT" relevant in today's constraint world.

He has 17 years of experience in various leadership positions that have resulted in game-changing outcomes for eco-system players - employer, customers and partners. By effectively blending strategy, speedy execution and collaboration, Sood is able to build a platform for successful outcomes.

Keep on moving

Moving to the cloud makes it possible to easily add or remove IT services in accordance with market demands. Moreover, there are significant cost savings to be made. Rather than purchasing the necessary hardware, software and product licences outright, firms can rent from a third party, benefitting from this provider's economies of scale. For small, new businesses, the high barrier to entry cost for advanced IT services is effectively removed.

Yet, if moving to the cloud has so many advantages, why hasn't everyone made the full transition? One of the big reasons is companies often failing to fully understand precisely what functions can be switched, as well as which cloud solution is most suitable. Far too frequently, firms engage in fragmented experimentation with cloud technologies, leading to misconceptions about cost savings and overall business efficiency.

This fractured understanding also means that many firms fail to properly integrate existing cloud services; business processes and company infrastructure are viewed separately, rather than holistically. For many businesses, this leads to what Sood describes as a "productivity paradox".

"A productivity paradox is where you've introduced a new technology, but failed to optimise the processes around it," he says. "For example, when I was a boy, I would go to a bank in India to cash cheques. One person would take my cheque, another would give me a token, and then yet another would take the token back and give me my money.

"Eventually, computerisation arrived. But crucially, the process didn't change. There was still the same long process, but it was done using computers, and actually took even longer.

"Then one day, somebody had a brainwave and changed the process. It meant one person took my cheque, matched the signature and dispensed the cash. The whole thing became about ten times faster."

Jump the hurdles

Sood believes the same problem exists for many firms transitioning to the cloud; processes are not adapted and optimised when new technologies are introduced.

The other key hurdle Sood sees to cloud adoption is the growing structural complexity of numerous organisations. With many increasingly nebulous, there is a concern that security and compliance procedures cannot be extended through entire businesses.

"I think customers who fully understand the cloud have been able to reach close to 50% enablement," Sood comments. "But those firms that don't entirely grasp it are often stuck around 5%. The result is limited business gains and reduced cost savings."

With over seven years' experience in what is still a very new field, Wipro has the expertise and in-depth understanding needed to help companies overcome the challenges and complexities of a cloud transition. A truly global firm with offices in all six major continents, its IT services department alone is worth around $7 billion.

Wipro's cloud programme covers the entire life cycle; the firm offers to advise, design, build and manage. This holistic approach allows Wipro to prevent its customers from falling into the classic productivity paradox. Moreover, the firm's vast experience across different industry segments means it can dramatically speed up the transitional process.

"As we continue to learn, we are able to build rapid cloud deployment packs," says Sood. "Often, we can cut deployment time by a third. In some cases, it can even be halved.

"You could have a blueprint for moving to the cloud that is applicable maybe 60% of the time," he continues. "But, because of different client specificities, a degree of customisation is also needed. The more experience you have, the easier it is to recognise patterns, and then use that knowledge to spot problems and apply preventions."

Double down

Also central to Wipro's credo is its desire to "enable customers to do their business better", for which the firm has a two-pronged strategy. First, it helps companies standardise their core by improving efficiency and agility. Secondly, it helps businesses differentiate themselves at the front end.

"If our clients is an online retailer, we think about how they can provide a seamless, satisfying customer experience for whoever comes in contact with them," Sood explains. "We do it by understanding their technologies, and also by providing incremental innovations that will aid them in becoming more meaningful to their customers."

Wipro's sheer size further enhances its ability to assist in developing front-end business strategies. Operating in around 20 different industries, including banking, transport, utilities, manufacturing, healthcare and energy, the firm can easily leverage its extensive domain knowledge to assist its customers.

Looking forward, Sood believes that the current focus of many North American and European firms on rationalising cost bases, capitalising on the digital revolution and reaching out to emerging markets will push cloud services even further up the agenda.

"When you look at today's business environment, I think it points to customers wanting to add capacity. Firms are also aiming to be more meaningful to their customers and to be able to do more with less," Sood says. "Cloud, mobility, along with social and analytics, can assist with that. They can help create innovative new business models, or to drastically lower operational costs.

"Within the European continent, the solutions can get a little more geographically specific," he continues. "This is due to the different laws that might have to be followed: data privacy, security, etc. These may change the particular solution. But, by and large, the broad approach will remain the same."

Sood also foresees an increasing number of enterprises having their own version of an app store in the near future. Whether these outlets are internal or external, a trusted administrative aggregator will no doubt be required. Wipro is preparing to fill such a role.

"At the moment, we are focused on reliability, scalability and serviceability. But our targets for tomorrow and energies for today are focused on becoming that trusted integrator and aggregator for these app stores," Sood says. "With enterprises becoming increasingly nebulous and connected, you certainly need someone to provide this service.

"It's really the holy grail for us. We've already taken the first steps, and it's certainly where we and our customers are heading."

Atul Sood, vice-president at Wipro.
Wipro’s cloud programme enables a number of innovations for its clients.