Cloud services provider Appirio relocated its headquarters from San Francisco to Indianapolis in 2015, celebrated 10 years as a cutting-edge, fast-growing company in 2016, and finished out the year getting acquired by India-based Wipro for $500 million in November. Over just a handful of years, Appirio locally grew from a small group of Indianapolis-based remote workers to being the global headquarters for an innovative company of 2,000 high-tech employees with 170 calling Indianapolis home.
As with any acquisition, questions arise about the future and the commitment to our city and community from both the new owner as well as the company in its new configuration. Recently, high-profile deals like the Salesforce acquisition of ExactTarget in 2013 have worked out pretty spectacularly for the city — with Salesforce continuing to hire hundreds of new employees and a tech company logo soon to be seen atop the state’s tallest building — Salesforce Tower.
Steve Pruden, VP of strategy and partnerships for Appirio was kind enough to answer some of our questions following the acquisition and share some of his thoughts about where Appirio, a Wipro Company, is heading.
QUESTION: How many employees do Appirio and Wipro now have as one global company?
ANSWER: Appirio is currently onboarding 600 Wipro employees into its Cloud Application Services. Appirio plans on hiring 60-100 Indy locals in 2017; and has a goal of employing up to 577 Hoosiers by 2020, with average salaries more than 75 percent higher than the state’s average wage.
How has this acquisition changed Appirio? How have those changes influenced Wipro?
Appirio is looking to expand further into Australia, Japan and central Europe including Germany and the Netherlands as Wipro has strong presence in those regions.
Something our CEO Chris Barbin noted was how impressed he was by Wipro’s CEO asking “what are people griping about/worried about right now?” This prompted the Wipro employees to mention their current dress code. As an example of willingness to change, he changed the Wipro dress code worldwide to the Appirio dress code. Symbolically, that said they were willing to adapt. Appirio’s integration with Wipro has lead to a new mindset and a new way of doing business. This includes increased agility and taking advantage of Appirio’s toolset. Appirio still focuses on its core applications (Salesforce, Workday, Google, etc.), but could add Coupa, Financial Force and other applications in the future.
What was the single biggest change Appirio employees saw as a result of the acquisition, and how have you helped implement that change seamlessly?
Appirio wants to continue to scale what it’s been building as part of Appirio, but there’s a level of importance as it pertains to integrating with Wipro. Our teams have already spoken to more than 100 customers, closed a number of significant joint deals, integrated the leadership teams, on-boarded Wipro cloud team members on the Appirio all-cloud IT systems, and initiated activities to expand into additional global markets. To maintain that momentum, Appirio recently announced new executive roles.
Appirio believes that a brand’s value can drive an acquisition (In fact, the brand was one of Wipro’s expressed reasons for acquiring Appirio), so something Appirio has been evaluating is how an acquired company maintains that brand, and hence its value through the haze of integration.
Appirio/Wipro added four key leadership roles after the first, integrated executive leadership team meeting. What was behind the decision for each role, and what are the metrics you are using to set them up for success?
As mentioned above, the new roles were designed to keep the Appirio culture alive, while continuing to deliver on the vision of bringing the Virtuous Cycle of Worker and Customer Experience to clients worldwide. Positions include:
- Chief Learning Officer, Cathrine Lang
- Chief Financial Officer, Krishnan Subramanian
- Chief Customer Officer, Rajeev Kumar
- Integration and Strategic Consultant at Appirio, Anindya Chaudhuri
What do you see as key performance indicators (KPIs) for employee engagement during the first 90 days and beyond?
Appirio has a strong history of measuring employee engagement and will continue to evolve our tools, techniques and programs globally to support a growing diverse workforce. Specifically we use and will continue to use:
- Employee NPS (net promoter score)
- Employee fun factor
- Internal “ideas” – think of this as a sophisticated suggestion box for Appirians with voting and social components
- Employee exit surveys
- Glassdoor reviews
- Employee referral rates
Do you have any implementation or engagement suggestions for business leaders looking to acquire or be acquired?
In the case of Appirio, remaining Appirio, was non-negotiable. The brand had wide recognition in the market and NPS scores that are through the roof. Understand that it’s not always a battle and it’s not an us vs. them, so keep an open mind. The goal is to grow the brand which requires the maturity and introspection to know the stuff you can do better with the help of the acquired company.
Get on board with merging cultures: It helps if the acquiring company approaches merging of the cultures with an open mind. Bigger isn’t always better. And it’s great to pick and choose policies, processes, and culturally minded people to help find the best way for both companies to evolve.