We have created something called the school of architecture where we select the top technology talent and run them through rigorous process of training
EMC, the global storage technology giant has been one of the early investors in India to harness the talent within the country for its worldwide product development activity. Today, with more than 6,000 employees in India which makes it the largest centre outside of its headquarters in the United States, EMC India’s centre of excellence has stamped its depth of technical leadership at the global level. Sarv Saravanan, senior vice-president & general manager, EMC Centres of Excellence, Asia Pacific Japan, says that the confidence level is high at the India centre to drive next big innovation. “The planned $67 billion merger with Dell is unlikely to be a major issue as it is very complementary,” he tells PP Thimmaya in a recent interaction. Excerpts:
How has been the journey of EMC’s technology centres in India?
My role expands in India and China. These are largest investments outside of the US. The character of the Indian presence is products and services while China is more of products engineering. Our journey in India started in 2003, but the real strategic angle of how we want to globalise ourselves as a company happened in 2006. As part of that process, I had to help build India. By 2009, we were ready to take off in India and had committed long-term huge investments in the country in terms of assets and talent. When we look back, we are pretty pleased with progress we have made. In our globalisation agenda, we started with three tenets. Firstly, how do we expand our market presence. The second is in terms of talent where we did not want hire just a bunch of engineers but talked about centre of excellence where we wanted to be significant in terms of presence, depth and long term career path to our employees. The third is how do you combine the two to drive innovation.
What has been differentiating factor for EMC’s India centres?
If one looks at the whole product lifecycle management, we did not want to just say end-to-end. We wanted to play a meaningful role where we get to do bigger things and at the same time produce outcomes. In the growth stage we carved a niche where we decided to focus on particular technology skill sets and go deep. Now we have built expertise which allows us to own complete process and product.
We have become absolute experts in managing large scale projects on products. I am responsible for 5 to 6 different locations globally and i do want them to compete among themselves as everyone has a role to play in the company.
We went about building depth in each of the centres. We also created strategy on the persona of a location—it should have a brand. A location should be known for certain things and innovate. For example, the persona of Bangalore is enterprise storage and security while Pune is focused on very important technologies for storage to happen. It is the similar case with our centres in Shanghai and Beijing. I look at it together, rather than a fragmented picture. We defined a strategy which can meaningfully contribute to the company, rather doing some commodity stuff.
What has been the role of training in building the talent in India?
This is something which is very important for us where we have gone ahead in investing and creating the necessary talent. We have created something called the school of architecture where we select the top technology talent and run them through rigorous process of training. We also give them the opportunity to interact with the Fellows of the company which gives them the wide experience. At the same time we also help in nurturing the soft skills among the technology talent. At global level for a person with deep technical skill one also needs a lot of leadership skills. In the global technical community one should have ability to influence with yours thoughts, which require skills like communication. For that we have created a programme called tech edge, in collaboration with IIM. The team in India also has got to be entrepreneurial where to think big.
How do you view the confidence level at the India centres of EMC?
The confidence level is high but do we do enough, that it is matter of maturity. There is a lot of small innovations which are incremental in nature. Are we thinking about big picture? We are not there yet. What we did to overcome that as a process is to bring our product and services teams together. This helps services team in becoming deeper in technology and from the product side, the one thing they are missing out are interacting with customers. This is getting compensated by the services team as they talk to our customers and the product guys get more knowledgeable about what they are building. Are we creating a billion dollar idea, we are not there yet, it will have taken certain maturity.
How is EMC participating in the digital initiatives of the government in India?
We have a strong and sales marketing team in India. Besides digital India there are a lot of similar things which are happening at a national scale. UID for example, we are part that process. In my view digital India is going to be big boon for the country. Take any sector for that matter whether it is healthcare or education, there is a huge difference between demand and supply. The only way we are going to solve is through the use of technologies around cloud, mobility. We will do whatever it takes to help and will be a willing partner.
What will be the impact of the $67 billion Dell-EMC merger in India?
Any merger from a people point is always uncertain. However, in our case to begin with it is very complementary. Dell is good in areas such as mid-market, channels and certain technologies like servers. EMC is good in enterprise and lot of other technologies. When there is no overlap there is less of a people problem. This is a very complementary merger so there is less of an issue here.