An Interview with HCL Technologies
by James Tate, Sourcing Focus
Sourcing Focus was awarded the chance to sit down and chat with Executive Vice President & Head of EMEA for HCL Technologies, Ashish Gupta. He gave us his opinions on the achievements of HCL, the digital economy, Brexit and how to succeed in the industry.
Tell us about HCL Technologies achievements over the past 5 years?
HCL has been one of the fastest growing service providers over the last five years. We have been successful in generating the momentum to grow which has left many competitors behind. Growth in the past year has been strong thanks to the signing of major deals. Our momentum comes down to three factors, discipline in business direction, investing in local capabilities in each of the markets we work in across the globe and the quality of talent that HCL has trained and maintained.
How will HCL stay ahead of the game?
Building on why we think we have done well over the past 5 years, we know good business strategy (knowing what not to do as oppose to what to do) and being disruptive in the market is a good way to keep the momentum going. Importantly we have focused upon not differentiating on what we do but how we do it. We articulated a programme of employees first several years back which is a different approach to how a business will work with employees.
As we go forward, we continue to develop digital capabilities. We are moving from a period of total outsourcing where we throw a project at the wall and we go from there to multisourcing, and as we move forward and digitisation becomes embedded in business, we move more towards vested partnerships. This means fewer partners for our customers but deeper relationships vested in the outcomes that the customer wants to achieve. Generally speaking, we are maintaining our current capabilities but moving towards being vested in the customer’s success. We like to say, our digital capabilities are a must, but what will differentiate us and lead us to succeed is our ability to form a close relationship with the customer.
Tell us more about Life beyond the contract?
HCL is the largest R+D Outsourcer in the world in terms of people, and when you work with R+D companies, you need to be in as tight a relationship as possible or it simply won’t work.
In IT, we noticed that there was too much contractual stuff, which prevents customers from moving forward, which is why we started collaborative sourcing. This means we had to embed a culture where the customer’s business is paramount. We are an enabler to their business and their tech and hence, with the contract unlikely to answer all the questions that arise, how do you deal with them. The old way involves a shadow boxer, where we both play a game using the contract to find an answer, the second way is to focus on the real life and deal with the challenges that come up, keeping the relationship front and centre. Our retention rate of customers is over 90%, well above the industry average, that comes from the relationship beyond the contract, time will change what the customer wants so we work with them, moving the architecture to fit the needs of the customer. Retention creates a closer relationship; a closer relationship creates trust and trust means more business.
For us, the relationship is core DNA, built into the organisation, a key differentiating factor which makes us more comfortable going to a procurement situation with a client.
Are we seeing a change in what a company is, a new industrial revolution?
Completely, businesses today and their architecture is going to be out of fashion in the next 5 or so years. Technology will disrupt both products and markets for every firm in every sector. As we go forward, we will see a completely different corporate architecture with all companies integrated with technology. We will see more consumption of technology and more real time decision making enabled through real time analytics with real time data. User experience will be at the heart of every business in the future. It will lead to massive change in culture and structure.
What does HCL Technology think about Brexit and president-elect Trump?
Over the past 10 years, global commerce has grown as a percentage of world GDP by 34%. Global commerce has been the engine of world growth and growth in the participating economies. These events are an indication that the globalisation engine is stalling and nationalist engines are starting to emerge. In the context of the global economy, this is a bad thing. These changes come from the unintended consequences of globalisation, be that job losses or immigration, we will likely see more of this over the next 5 years, so as a company we must focus on local markets. In the end, digitalisation will drive globalisation, a company founded today can trade across the world tomorrow which is something that has never been possible before. In the short term it is precarious, but in the medium to long term, events like this cannot stop the march towards a more connected world. We must buckle down and work on what is best for our customers and drive them towards more efficient models which creates more jobs and provides more confidence on the march of globalisation. We must work on local markets and try to identify the problems that can arise through technological change.
Could you give us one piece of advice for a career as a supplier of services?
Focus, identify what you want to be great at, find out if the market can support it and don’t change the ideas. There are too many choices, hunker down and focus on the market changer. Strategy is not about what you do, but deciding what you don’t do.