Sunday, January 21, 2007

Day 10: Wipro, Target & Dell

Monday, January 8, 2007. 11:00 PM IST (Indian Standard Time). The flight and travels to Bangalore went uneventfully. We were able to get from Agra to Delhi aboard a bus for 5 hours, then boarded a Kingfisher flight from Delhi to Bangalore. After arriving in Bangalore, we all were quite exhausted and retired to our rooms for the evening. Today we began our visits to local companies. We were fortunate to visit some large and well-respected firms: Wipro, Target, and Dell.

Our first stop was to Wipro Healthcare. We met with executives at the Global Radiation Services division. Wipro is the third largest of the big three Indian outsourcing firms – TCS, Infosys, and Wipro. Our professor has many connections in general, but especially with Wipro since he used to work there. This division provides radiation imagery support services. It is a small but growing part of the business and is likely just a partnership away from something quite large and amazing. Wipro Radiation Services was formed with a joint venture between Wipro and GE Medical Systems just a few years ago. The company’s initial strategy is to provide initial readings of MRI, CT, and other imagery. The team receives the images, cleans them and makes them more accessible by the medical staff at the patient’s hospital. The core value in the service offering occurs through the JV with GE Medical. The firm takes the layered scans and converts them to 3D imagery.

Wipro Radiation Services has some opportunity to develop a sales force in the US and begin making its services more well-known. Currently they are working with a handful of large hospitals. An intriguing business is to consider how these large hospitals in the US can then re-organize their radiation teams to offer services to third parties. There are several revenue models that could allow the healthcare industry to make money in new and innovative ways. Of course the biggest obstacles remain – concern about job loss and concern for patient confidentiality.

Am I in Minneapolis or Bangalore? Our visit to Target Services India (TSI) made me feel as though I was walking through the doors of Target Plaza in Minneapolis. For a minute I missed the comfort and culture that I knew with Target and as a non-Targeteer I felt like an outsider. Then the purpose of our visit came back to be and I was yet again impressed with what Target is able to accomplish.

While there is much that I could write about for TSI, I think the most interesting thing is the fact that the culture felt consistent with the culture in Minneapolis. This is amazing if you think about it. Target has been able to organize and operate a business on the other side of the world and develop a place that is more than just a Target facility – it is an extension of its culture, people, and innovation that occurs in Minneapolis. There are many things that make Target unique from the other companies that we are visiting and this contrast is so interesting that my project for the course will likely tackle the challenge of how companies ensure consistent culture in an office on the other side of the world.

It was wonderful seeing my previous manager Tracy again and I’ll hopefully meet up with her and Tom for dinner this week. Taking an international assignment would be something that I’d love to do and can’t wait to hear more about their experiences here. More to come.

As I was standing outside the bus, we were being beckoned to get on and head to Dell. We were running late for our meeting with the Managing Director of Dell India. Dell is another company doing much of their business in India. Dr. Vivek Marsingh was an amazing speaker and it was clear how his leadership inspired Dell’s growth in India. When attrition is a huge problem there has to be something that keeps employees at a company, One of the largest struggles for these companies is the fact that any of their employees could leave for a job paying 15-20% more (a number we’ve heard at most visits). How do you keep someone who can leave for more money? Dr. Marsingh’s response is that leadership takes over where logic stops. The leadership he is speaking about inspires employees to contribute to innovation and change in the organization. One great example of the innovation at Dell is every Friday afternoon from 4-6, the managing dorector has office hours where anyone can stop by and discuss anything. Promoting discussion and questions as well as interaction with leaders fosters an innovative environment.

Innovation is a term that we have heard at many of our visits. I was honestly not expecting to hear so much emphasis on innovation. I anticipated more emphasis on following procedures and quality control. Just to be clear, we have heard much about quality and process, but the firms recognize that in order to compete globally in the future, innovation and creativity are esstential corporate values.