Home / Companies / News /  Wipro picks Rajan Kohli as new head for digital arm

Bengaluru: Wipro Ltd has chosen a new leader for its digital business as it looks to make it one of the three largest service lines for the company in three years.

India’s third largest software services exporter has named Rajan Kohli, currently head of banking and financial services business at the company, as the head of Wipro Digital, the year-old business unit, according to two people familiar with the development.

Significantly, Kohli is expected to be one of the 16 executives to report directly to Wipro chief executive officer (CEO), T.K. Kurien, and the firm is expected to make a formal announcement this week.

The company is yet to pick a new leader to head its banking and financial services business.

“T.K. (Kurien) has already outlined plans to make it one of the three largest service lines in the coming three years," said one of the executives familiar with the development. “Rajan has done well at the BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance vertical) and we believe he is the best leader to lead the practice."

Currently, Wipro Digital is led by Bhanumurthy B.M.; it has fewer than 100 people in its practice and is estimated to have business of less than $50 million. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that Wipro is aiming to take it up to at least $1.5 billion in three years, as business applications services bring in about a third of Wipro’s $6.7 billion revenue while infrastructure services account for 27.3% of its sales.

Although details of Wipro’s ambitious digital plans remain sketchy, another executive familiar with the development said the company will focus on building its innovation labs, dubbed ‘Wipro Digital Pods’ across four cities: Bengaluru, London, San Francisco and Dubai.

Wipro currently has only one innovation lab operating in the country and the company is expected to start the remaining three in the next 12 months, according to a second executive familiar with the plans.

The Digital Pods will house about 100-150 creative directors, digital marketers and designers and are expected to work with customers across industries to help them with the benefits of some of the next-generation technologies, including automation and artificial intelligence.

“Our lab in Bengaluru is already live, and our experience tells us that such innovation labs drastically help in reducing development time when we sit with customers," said the second executive.

For this reason, some experts believe that Wipro anointing a new head to lead its digital practice could help the company scale up the nascent business.

As head of banking and financial services, Kohli is credited with having helped Wipro get some marquee banking customers, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He also helped get the intelligent data analytics platform of Opera Solutions in many of the service offerings from Wipro to its banking customers. Opera Solutions is a New Jersey-based data analytics start-up in which Wipro has a minority stake.

“Wipro highlighted its strategy for improving the core business, expanding its digital capability, and focusing on execution," Abhiram Eleswarapu, an analyst at BNP Paribas, wrote in an investor note on 12 March.

“The lab visits showcased how Wipro is driving automation in its traditional business, while innovating in digital areas using tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) in solutions such as virtual banks and customised shopping."

The company’s aggressive push in the digital unit comes after it undertook one of the largest management reshuffles last week since Kurien took over as CEO in February 2011. It named Tata Consultancy Services veteran Abid Ali Neemuchwala as its first chief operating officer in six years and also elevated two company veterans to the rank of president.

Further, Wipro carved out social, mobility and cloud practices from its year-old vertical of advanced technologies solutions or ATS, saying increased client spending in these areas merits a more focused approach.

To be sure, Wipro segregates business from the social, mobility, analytics and cloud space— or Smac space—and the revenues generated from its digital business. For now, Wipro’s ATS accounts for 11% of the company’s total revenue, with analytics alone contributing about 80% of the nearly $750 million worth of business from these new areas.

Wipro’s push into the digital space also mirrors the trend being adopted by its local rivals. India’s top software exporter TCS is working towards making its digital vertical a $5 billion unit in the coming years, while Infosys is scaling up hiring in related technologies under new CEO Vishal Sikka.

Wipro did not immediately respond to Mint’s queries. Kohli declined to comment for this story.


Varun Sood

Varun Sood is a business journalist writing on corporate affairs for the last fifteen years. He also writes a weekly newsletter, TWICH+ on the largest technology services companies. He is based in Bangalore. Varun's first book, Azim Premji: The Man Beyond the Billions, was brought out by HarperCollins in October 2020.
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