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Standardize to Win: How companies are adopting standardization as a winning strategy

Posted by Anand Sankaran
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Talk to any business executive today and he would cite differentiating effectively in the market as one of his highest business priorities. It seems counter-intuitive, but standardization of processes, technology and even people can be a winning strategy for companies in this day.

Having different approaches in various organizational silos? ultimately translates into a lack of control. Standardization positions companies to achieve cost savings, increased customer satisfaction and improved competitiveness. Fragmented processes result in higher maintenance costs and unpredictability of outcomes in even slightly different scenarios – both of which translates to higher cost of operations. Standardization on the other hand enables consistency, predictability, uniformity and flexibility of operations.

McDonald’s is a good example of how a large corporation has standardized processes to an extent where most of the creative energies of the organization are spent in finding solutions to core business issues like product development, driving growth and marketing. McDonald’s is no longer “manufacturing” a hamburger, but instead customers are experiencing the service side of a standardized platform. This is achieved along with reduced manpower costs and consistency of product and experience – which ultimately builds brand equity for McDonald’s.

According to Karl Ulrich, Wharton professor of operations and information management,following a platform approach also allows for very effective product innovation. Most modern automotive companies follow this approach with several models for different markets evolving from a common platform. This helps in a “top-down” approach to product development, faster time to market and greater variety of vehicles from one basic set of engineered components. For instance, several models from Ford, Mercury, Lincoln and Volvo brands share the same basic platform and were launched within months of each other in different markets.

Standardization of IT infrastructure is one of the most strategic, yet simplest to achieve in a company’s journey towards differentiation. Repetitive and redundant work can be automated to a large extent saving the energies of the organization for more strategic initiatives.

Even with these seemingly obvious advantages, standardization initiatives should be undertaken with care. Executives should strive to strike a balance between standardization and customization so that the products don’t lose their distinctiveness. Also, execution should be well planned, thought through and driven consistently to its logical conclusion.

All of this is especially important in the context of an organization’s global aspiration. With standardized processes and products as the norm, a differentiated after sales service can become a competitive advantage. This “servicization” of IT products and infrastructure solutions will become more and more prevalent as organizations move towards standardization of business processes, infrastructure and applications.

Do share your thoughts on the business benefits you have realized as a result of adopting standardization and its tenants in your organization?

About Author

Anand Sankaran- Sr. Vice President, Wipro Infotech & Global Infrastructure Services

Anand Sankaran was the Senior Vice President and Business Head, Global Infrastructure Services (GIS) & Wipro Infotech (WI).

As the head of GIS & WI, Anand was responsible for developing business strategies and new business models, financial planning, customer acquisition and retention, leadership development and management of the partner eco-system. Under his leadership, GIS & WI had witnessed exponential growth, and are among the fastest growing business units in Wipro.

Anand took over as the head of the Global Infrastructure Services (GIS) in 2011. GIS is Wipro's strategic business unit, accounting for over 33 percent of the organization?s revenue and provides a vast portfolio of services spanning across cloud services, systems integration, managed services, and total outsourcing in a global delivery model. He played a pivotal role in the acquisition and nurturing of 500 + GIS customers globally which includes top companies across industry segments.

Anand has also proficiently led Wipro Infotech (WI), which offers a comprehensive suite of solutions and services to customers in India & Middle East. He has grown WI from a fledgling business unit to an INR 7000 crore strategic division of Wipro's IT Business.

Over his two and a half decade tenure at Wipro, Anand has incubated several large business units from their infancy. One of his pioneering initiatives was the inception of the Total Outsourcing Business for Wipro. This new business model proved to be a game changer for Wipro, catapulting the company from a system integrator to a transformational player across verticals in India and across the globe. His strategic thinking, deep customer understanding coupled with his intensity to win, helped Wipro bag several marquee deals in India which set precedence for the robust growth for Wipro.

Anand has been on a career fast-track and has grown through Wipro's rank to hold several key positions as sales and business head across geos giving him a wide breath of expertise and rich domain knowledge across the different business units.

A thought leader in technology and business, Anand is an avid blogger and speaks regularly on contemporary topics in various industry platforms and media forums.

Anand holds a Bachelor degree in Engineering from Karnataka Regional Engineering College.

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