India key to Publicis.Sapient's global engineering ops: Sheldon Monteiro

India is at the centre of Publicis.Sapient's global engineering operations, a top executive told ETtech. 

"India has been a huge part of our strategy and operations since 2000. We have a large amount of engineering and technology operations here but it sits as one integrated team that delivers to clients. For us, the centre of gravity for engineering is our workforce in India" said Sheldon Monteiro, executive vice-president and chief technology officer, Publicis.Sapient.

Publicis.Sapient is the digital business transformation hub of the advertising and communication giant Publicis Groupe. In July, the company had announced two key appointments to grow its product engineering capabilities.

Former Tesco exec Tilak Doddapaneni was roped into a newly created position of Global Head of Engineering at Publicis.Sapient while former Amazon executive Rakesh Ravuri joined as Chief Technology Officer for programming languages and cloud and Global Head of Engineering for Retail. Both these hires are based out of India, underlining the importance of the country to its global engineering operations.

In August last year, Publicis.Sapient co-CEO Chip Register had told ET that they will be doubling the company's existing employee base of 10,000 in the country in the next 3-5 years, by capitalising on the huge engineering talent pool that the country offers.

"It is not just the talent available here, but also the scale at which India is able to actually produce the talent is a significant differentiator for the country" Monteiro said.

Product engineering key to business transformation

Product engineering plays a key role in the company's digital transformation journey, since a majority of the partnerships are moving towards optimising for business outcomes, away from the traditional IT model that optimised for outputs, Monteiro said.

"The way the companies are now looking for help is what outcomes can you help them with. It is not delivering something to you that could be or may not be meaningful but have you actually helped me achieve the results that I am looking to achieve, regardless of whether you had to change the amount of work you did or the scope that you deliver" he added.

To achieve this, Publicis.Sapient is leveraging all its skillsets, right from strategy to creative to business process, to design a new technology in a way that optimizes or helps companies become more nimble and develop world-class engineering capabilities themselves.

"A big problem for a lot of large enterprises is not that they don't have great ideas, but it is their ability to actually move it from idea stage into production stage in any reasonable amount of time while keeping their current business operating at the same pace" Monteiro said.

He added "A huge part of how we work with our clients today is about helping them to change the way in which they work. It is not just about doing a specific project for them but helping them transform their capabilities".

This could be evolving the company's legacy technology in a way that allows for smaller components, smaller batches of work, ability to introduce DevOps techniques and ability to reduce change failure rate.

"What we help clients to do is to think about the way in which they serve their customers as a series of products. For instance, the search functionality in an e-commerce site can be a single product and all the groups that are involved in optimizing that search can be clubbed into a single team" Monteiro said.

That said, Monteiro noted that digital business transformation is still evolving, since the contracting model has not kept pace, due to which clients want business outcomes but they are buying outputs

"There is a difference between what clients want and the way in which they are buying. They want the outcome, but as soon as you go to procurement, they want the scope matrix and the price in dollars per hour. That is going to evolve over the next several years" he said.

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