Capgemini bolstering innovation through its global network

Capgemini, the $13-billion global technology service company, is trying to beat competition, including Indian peers such as Tata Consultancy Services, Cognizant, Infosys and Wipro, by using innovation as a major driver through its Applied Innovation Exchange (AIE).

In the exchange, it brings together designers, technologists, sector experts, business and technology partners, academics, research organisations and start- ups. It is a platform that leverages a framework for action and a global network of exchange locations, including Mumbai.

The AIE enables companies pro-actively plan for and respond to various technology and business shifts confronting them on a daily basis, said Lanny S Cohen, Group Technology Officer, Capgemini, which has over half of its global 180,000 employees working in India.

“Companies no longer innovate in isolation or content with development and deployment cycles measured in years, in months. Through AIE, we are investing in setting up a global ecosystem on behalf of our clients,” he told media persons at the exchange here.

For example, if a company is doing an innovation project in Munich but may not have start-up in automotive there. However, the start-up could be available in California. Capgemini will ensure access of that start-up to the client in Munich through the AIE network, he said.

Opened in January this year, San Francisco is Capgemini’s Flagship AIE specialising in co-innovation with hi-tech brands and start-ups providing exposure and access to portfolio companies of selected venture capital and private equity partners. The centre is utilising the vast sources of industry specific innovation located in Silicon Valley, which is the global capital of innovation, he said.

Over 60 per cent of companies with innovation centres having them setup in the area. This includes Capgemini’s AIE, he said. “We wanted to be the midst of the innovation hub and showcase our brand to the huge ecosystem here,” he said.

People were interested to work for companies such as Apple, Facebook, Alibaba and this was a major challenge on attracting talent. “We had to change the perception by keeping innovation as a centre,” he said.

Cohen said no longer can innovation happen within the four walls of a company. Any company that thinks it can innovate on its own is mistaken. It is a team sport. It needs access to knowledge and experience and capabilities on a global scale. A few companies know how to navigate that ecosystem, and this is critical. “That’s what we are doing through the AIE,” he said.

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At present, the company has nine large AIEs across the world with two more – Singapore and New York to come in first quarter, and another (Bengaluru) to come up in second half of next year. In addition, it has nearly 40 smaller centres specialising in various sectors, he said.

Kartik Ramakrishnan, Senior Vice-President, Banking, Capgemini, said in San Francisco there are over 500 start-ups doing FinTech. How does a bank CIO know whom to talk to for a problem? They don’t know all of them. They can go to an incubator who is in this space but they have their own motives. The AIE help the bank by putting up a team to work on an idea and quickly roll out the proof of concept, he said.

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