It’s been just over a year since Appirio’s acquisition by Wipro, and I took some time to reflect back on our decision to sell: Was it the right thing to do? Was it the best decision for our customers? Have we been able to retain our culture? Have we been able to retain our team dynamic?
It’s been a ride so far, and we still have work to do. But as I look back at everything we’ve already achieved, I am excited, proud — and maybe a little relieved — to see so many successes, especially considering all the statistics that are stacked against M&A deals.
As I did a year ago, I turn to the “The Four Cs” — Customers, Careers, Competition, and Culture — to understand the real impact of the acquisition on Appirio.
After the initial post-acquisition excitement — the congratulations, questions, rumors, and interviews — we got down to business to ensure our customers had a frictionless experience. An acquisition can bring distractions, and we wanted to remove as much of that as possible.
We soon learned the importance of full alignment. In one year, we expanded our reach to global hubs like Toronto, Stockholm, Paris, Amsterdam, and Sydney. Providing consistent Customer Experience across all regions became a priority. To better manage this process, we integrated our Executive Leadership Team with Wipro leaders including Teena Bhasin as Head of Global Integrated Services; Rajeev Kumar as Chief Customer Officer; Krishnan Subramanian as Chief Financial Officer; and Sid Mishra as Practice Head for Salesforce.
Appirio has brought the Virtuous Cycle to Wipro, an achievement I'm personally very proud of. This philosophy — the idea that workers and customers are intrinsically linked together in a circle of positive reinforcement — is at the very core of Appirio. Our second annual Worker Experience Tour brought the Virtuous Cycle to 11 cities, featured 30 customer speakers, and drew over 500 business decision makers. And seeing greater Wipro use the Virtuous Cycle to provide incredible value to our customers — well, it’s been humbling and amazing to witness.
While Appirio delivers measurable business results to customers and a vibrant company culture to its employees, Wipro brings a broader set of capabilities and an extensive global presence. Combining our strengths has allowed Appirio to compete on an entirely new playing field. We are now the third largest global consulting partner in the Salesforce ecosystem, and we have a seat at the table for those large, multi-million dollar, global deals. Our new competitive edge was incredibly evident to me at my eleventh Dreamforce a few weeks back, where the scope and scale of our programs were orders of magnitude larger than we’ve seen in the history of Appirio.
I'm often asked how the acquisition has impacted Appirio’s people. And to that, I say the same thing I said a year ago — our talent is our most treasured asset. As a consulting company, our product is our people. We entered this deal to foster that talent by improving our own training programs, as well as taking advantage of Wipro’s continuing education, benefits, and performance management.
One of the things our team was most excited about post-acquisition was the possibility of getting assigned to more international projects. That has certainly become a reality for several of our team members, who have spent the past year on both long- and short-term projects in Australia, India, Europe, and Japan. We have just scratched the surface on this front, but expect to see more and more global team mobility in the year ahead.
While we did experience some voluntary attrition in the initial months post-acquisition, we remained consistent in our messaging and actions, and stayed true to our transparent leadership style and culture. Our retention rate is now higher than it was pre-acquisition, and as many as seventeen employees who left after the deal have “boomeranged” back to rejoin Appirio. To me, that’s the ultimate vote of confidence and a testament to the culture we have created and maintained.
At Dreamforce last month, we conducted a group analyst briefing with top analysts in cloud, IT, and consulting. Hiral Chandrana, Global Head of Business Application Services at Wipro (and my boss — I’m still not quite used to saying that!) and I reviewed the progress of the integration, and our key wins. The reception from the analysts was awesome. Phil Hassey, Research Analyst at capioIT and one of the analysts in attendance that day, wrote: "Wipro Is another partner and integrator with a significantly improved Salesforce functionality and positioning over the past 12 months, again driven by acquisition. The acquisition of Appirio is a year old. In this time Wipro has leapt from no depth of capability in the Salesforce ecosystem to being a clear and differentiated top 5 Salesforce integrator.”
Our partners are demanding more from us. They want industry-specific expertise. They want artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and analytic capabilities. They want more innovation around key business insights and efficiencies for customers. With Wipro, we are better able to respond to these market demands. We are now more industry-focused than ever before. Our market-leading Salesforce Lightning Bolt solutions, for example, deliver highly personalized, industry-specific services. Our Retail Communications Lightning Bolt application is ranked number one on Salesforce’s AppExchange, and we recently received the first annual Salesforce Bolty Award for Retail.
We are in the business of delivering a different experience. We recently won the Salesforce Consulting Partner Innovation Award in Media for our work with McGraw Hill Education, but perhaps most importantly, our Net Promoter Score — the Customer Experience metric that makes Appirio stand out from the rest — remains one of the best in the industry.
Culture remains Appirio’s top differentiator, hands down. We hear from customers time and time again that what they love most about Appirio is our culture and how we lead by example.
This year, Fortune ranked Appirio as one of the Best Medium Workplaces. The placement was based in part on a survey of our employees, who listed camaraderie, leadership, fairness, rewards, and career opportunities as important to their happiness at work. Our flexible, work-from-anywhere environment received recognition by FlexJobs, which ranked Appirio among the top 100 companies offering remote work. Appirio’s high Glassdoor rating and philanthropic programs secured us further recognition as a top company to work for and one of the top companies that gives back. As if that wasn’t enough, Appirio’s Indianapolis and Jaipur, India locations have both been certified by Great Place to Work, with 93 percent of employees saying their workplace is great.
To win these culture awards during an acquisition and integration is remarkable. Our employees are truly a family. I’m proud that we’ve strengthened our culture during a time when many other companies would falter. I often talk about the day, right before I decided to sell, when the entire Wipro leadership team came all the way from India to visit our Indianapolis headquarters. That was the day I knew that Wipro is a match for Appirio. Not only did they show that they cared about our people, our vision, and our interests; they expressed how we could be a change agent for the Wipro culture as a whole. It’s something I hadn’t seen from any other company that was interested in buying us.
Since then, many other events have served as proof that we made the right decision. One that stands out is the day the acquisition closed; Wipro CEO Abid Neemuchwala changed Wipro's dress code to match Appirio’s more casual and relaxed standard. That action was not only great news for the Wipro employees, but was symbolic of Wipro’s desire to change along with Appirio. This mutual respect and partnership ensures that the Appirio culture lives on.
How does Appirio make an impact in a well-run, 180,000-strong global giant like Wipro? By staying true to what makes Appirio great — our people and customers.
Getting acquired can bring unknown and somewhat unsteady feelings. But I believe in our joint leadership, our industry-leading talent, and our combined drive to provide the best Worker and Customer Experience. As we continue to merge our cultures and learn from each other, our journey together will lead us straight to the number one spot.
Together, we stand stronger. It’s the power of two in action.