Mumbai: In his first interview after taking over as the India head for Accenture Plc after a consulting stint, Avinash Vashistha spoke on the firm’s three-pronged approach of consulting, technology and outsourcing, and how it will leverage its global strengths to increase its market share in India. Edited excerpts:
You have just come back after meeting the global team. Where do you see India fit in globally for Accenture, especially given the perception that it has not done as well here as it could have?
India is critical market for us. It is a big play in general. A significant part of our global delivery network (GDN) is in India, it is the largest geography for Accenture across locations. It has very strong roots in India, right from 1987 from being the first management consulting firm, and if you look at the work, it spans across different areas over the last two decades.
One of the things that we do very well is not just listen to the client in terms of what they ask for, but about their strategy, operations, and look at where they want to go. This is where we differentiate ourselves. The India market was not very open to outsourcing before, but as the portfolio now changes, we are very well placed to respond.
What are these changes?
Indian businesses are in a different position today. They are becoming large, more global, looking at significant opportunities to compete globally. And it is extremely important for MNCs (multinational corporations) to look at India as a market. I think this is where we have a significant advantage, being able to cater to both.
What do you do differently?
To be able to look at each client in terms of what they need. Solutions are custom-designed, there is no cookie-cutter approach. What we deliver is basically business outcomes and the insights to being more competitive. We probably do that better than anyone else.
From an in-India, for-India perspective, what business segment and skills do you see as important?
Our capability is very significant across all sectors. We are very sector-agnostic. We are also a very significant player globally for system integration and technology, which is a significant need for this market place. In any emerging economy, the government sector is an emerging opportunity, then there is retail, the financial side, manufacturing. Clients are looking for a global player like us who has delivered solutions globally and can bring that to India.
Since the system integration piece is the bigger pie, will you choose that over consulting?
It is not a question of one or the other. If you look at our India Post deal, it is a very transformational deal. To give them the capability and reach and technology, which has not been done anywhere in the world. It is a marquee transformational engagement. There are several government initiatives that will eventually end up using the infrastructure that we put up during this transformation.
It is not about doing consulting, but bringing consulting, technology and outsourcing to providing solutions. Opportunities are so immense, every opportunity need not start off with consulting. Every opportunity starts off with a customer wanting to solve a business issue or take advantage of an opportunity they see. We will go for the right mix.
In all government projects you either bid as a consultant or as a system integrator. How do we decide that consulting will be very small?
That is a fair question. We will go where we believe we can bring the strengths of Accenture to bear on the problem. If it is as a consultant, like in India Post, then we will do this. If the opportunity to go end-to-end, we will go for that you will see more.
Any thoughts on the SMB market?
In general in India and emerging markets, the deals are small. Whether you call it SMB, or anything else, the deal size is small, a reality of India and emerging Asia. Those are the clients that you will get. But we understand the market, the needs and the solutions... In India 90% of the deals are small in size.
What about in India, for the world?
Right now, India is a very significant part of the GDN. We deliver significant(ly) to global clients from India. That part will remain and grow. We will tap in global locations, as we continue to meet our client needs. We are present in China, Brazil, Peru and Mexico. A lot of those countries, we are delivering to both local markets, but if it can go out, we will do that. India is a very critical market for Accenture.
Do you see the share of India as a percentage of people growing?
Right now, we are over 60,000 people in India of the 211,000. Twenty-five centres in seven cities, Kolkata is the latest. Clients that we are delivering to will be a big story for Accenture. Our fiscal ends in August and we expect to be over 70,000. We will continue to evaluate opportunities to tap into the skill space. We spend a lot of money in training, in R&D. About $600 million in training and about $400 million in R&D, wherever we find the right talent. Smaller cities, when we see client requirements. We will tailor depending on client requirements.
Your thoughts on the industry?
What excites me about the industry is the fact that evolving technology and re-engineering business proceses and services are really getting globalised. Training, education, core processes, customer services, it is getting globalized. Things that we did not think of getting globalized.
I would like clients and businesses to think of outsourcing or offshoring but services globalization. That is the way to look at it.