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Wipro to invest in robotics, artificial intelligence

Company identifies areas like cognitive technologies, artificial intelligence, man-machine interface, robotics

Itika Sharma Punit  |  Bangalore 

Wipro

Wipro, the Bangalore-based information technology major, is trying to boost internal innovation. The country’s third largest IT services company has identified focus areas for initiatives in this regard and has also allocated budgets for these. Among others, it is investing in innovation in cognitive technologies, artificial intelligence, man-machine interface, robotics, smart devices and open source. The company believes these could become revenue-accretive in two to five years. “Historically, have focused on ‘run the business’ and ‘change the business’. With the disruption around us today, innovation has become of key importance. That is the reason why at Wipro, innovation is now directly under the chief executive’s radar,” K R Sanjiv, chief technology officer (CTO), told Business Standard.

IF IN DOUBT, INNOVATE
  • Wipro is investing in innovation in cognitive technologies, artificial intelligence, man-machine interface, robotics, smart devices and open source
  • The company believes these could become revenue-accretive in two to five years
  • The company says it wishes to ensure no silos or divides
  • The initial corpus of $100 million will be invested in opportunities in start-up focused on niche technologies
Adding: “Typically, the investment budgets for used to be 60 per cent for running the business and 40 per cent for the changes that are visible in the marketplace today. Now, we are also seeing a direct budget allocation for innovation. This is happening at Wipro as well.” While ‘run the business’ refers to the core bread-and-butter IT services work, ‘change the business’ means new technologies like analytics and big data. These are seeing some traction in the market but are not yet huge revenue churners. Wipro says it has no plan for a separate ‘lab’ on these, unlike some peers such as Infosys.

The company says it wishes to ensure no internal silos or divides. “You will not see a ‘Wipro Labs’ as a separate entity. The CTO’s office has a charter for driving change and the strategy office has the charter for building ecosystems. Both will be very strongly intertwined with the business units,” said Sanjiv. Experts believe jugglery between running core businesses and preparing for the future is crucial for Indian IT service companies. Especially with the not-so-successful example of Infosys, the second largest in the sector. It had launched ‘Infosys 3.0’ a few years earlier, to prepare it for technologies of the future. However, it lost sight of its core business, resulting in the growth rate dropping to record lows. Once a sector bellwether, Infosys is struggling to return to industry-level growth. Over recent months, Wipro has increasingly shown interest in benefiting from innovation in the technology system. A few months earlier, it followed the footsteps of some global peers by setting up a venture capital fund to look at investing in early-to-middle stage technology start-ups globally. The initiative is being driven by Chief Strategy Officer Rishad Premji, also the elder son of Chairman Azim Premji. The initial corpus of $100 million will be invested in opportunities in start-up companies focused on niche technologies such as data, open source and industrial internet.

ALSO READ: After Wipro, Infosys screens start-ups for partnerships, acquisition ALSO READ: Wipro sets up $100-mn VC fund to invest in start-ups

First Published: Sat, September 06 2014. 21:29 IST
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