S+B: How do these trends affect strategic decisions at HCL?
NAYAR: Meeting the needs of emerging markets is one of our main priorities. We are working with our customers to address the Indian market, either by reverse-engineering existing products or by adopting “frugal engineering.” There exists a large untapped market for us in the emerging geographies. [See “The Importance of Frugal Engineering,” by Vikas Sehgal, Kevin Dehoff, and Ganesh Panneer, s+b, Summer 2010.]
The other main priority is to invest in services to create distinctive experiences. This makes a big difference to our customers. It also matters to them that we are willing to develop a whole product end-to-end, and to share the revenue. We are making special investments in five core areas — cloud computing, device convergence, enterprise mobility, smart energy, and “ubiquitous device management”: real-time monitoring of devices so that problems can be anticipated and maintenance can be proactive. Our aim is to let customers leverage our intellectual property and IT frameworks to enhance their products and services, as well as their own internal processes.
By 2020, the role of the traditional corporate IT department will be questioned. Many IT departments will evolve from functional groups — vulnerable because they sit between technology vendors and the needs of their own company — into spin-off businesses of their own. Service providers like HCL will still exist, but the shape and scope of what we provide customers will have to change accordingly. Employees First, Customers Second is just our way of creating the kind of company that will be ready for this new world.
- Art Kleiner is the editor-in-chief of strategy+business and the author of The Age of Heretics (2nd ed., Jossey-Bass, 2008).
- Vikas Sehgal is a partner with Booz & Company based in Chicago. Working with the global engineered products and services team, he specializes in emerging-markets strategy, product strategy, engineering globalization, and policy formulation.
- Also contributing to this article was s+b contributing editor Ann Graham.