Hiral is a global digital executive with over 25 years in technology and professional services. In addition to his role at Valqari, he is a strategic advisor to multiple tech startups and VC funds, and limited partner at mHUB Chicago. He has deep experience solving enterprise challenges through customer-focused business solutions, and delivering P&L growth. Prior to his current roles, Hiral spent 14 years at Wipro, where he handled $3B of Wipro’s business including its Cloud and Digital services and its Consumer Industries business. He has driven strategic partnerships with most of the leading cloud providers in the space, such as Salesforce, AWS, Microsoft, ServiceNow, SAP and Adobe, and has orchestrated multiple acquisitions, including the $500M acquisition of Appirio where he served on the board.
Why do you love working with people-based businesses?
Technology will continue to advance, but the difference between success and failure of how technology delivers value within a business will always come down to people and the way teams operate within an organization. A few years back, I started to appreciate the impact of neuroscience — how people think, make decisions, get motivated — when it comes to building teams and delivering for customers. Building and scaling a successful services business takes more than just strategy and execution, it requires an understanding of psychology and stakeholder dynamics, and that piece has always fascinated me.
When you were leading Wipro’s $3B cloud and digital services business, you helped orchestrate the Appirio acquisition. What kind of things were you looking for in a potential acquisition target?
There were standard checkboxes such as capabilities, complementary skills, CSAT scores, repeat business, channel relationships, but when it came down to it, we were looking for a company that could help us differentiate in the market, and amplify our ability to take on the bigger players. We wanted a company that could push us with innovative thinking and allow us to engage our customers beyond just IT, and Appirio’s team brought that. The Appirio team were cloud and digital natives, who had built IP and solutions that would help us stand out and better serve our enterprise clients. We loved the culture they had built, but also underestimated the complexity and challenges of merging two different cultures.
As an investor and operator, you’ve helped guide a lot of service portfolio discussions. What should leaders consider when creating and evolving their portfolio of offerings?
Everyone has an intent to develop a true customer-centric portfolio of offerings, but to do it well you need to factor in business & process context of clients, solution scale and depth. In one of my leadership roles, I inherited 100 solutions (yes, 100), which we quickly cut to 20, and eventually to 6. The vast majority of the solutions were originally developed without a clear understanding of the business problem. We knew it was important to go deep in the areas which create value for customers and weed out the nonsense. One of my favorite bosses had said, “nothing is better than nonsense” so I put that to action. When it comes to customers, 20% of their challenges cause 80% of their pain and those need deeper solutions. However, in addition to going mile deep, the differentiated portfolio needs to deliver business outcomes that align to top strategic priorities of customers.
Enterprise buyers are looking to their partners for re-usable technology and products that are built specifically for their industry. What’s your take on how important verticalized IP is for next generation service firms?
Most software and services companies have realized the importance of having industry focus, across sales, solutions and delivery. However, that solves only part of the problem. Where the value really comes in is if a partner can truly understand the unique business processes within that micro vertical. Given the continued drive towards data driven insights and automation, next generation services firms have a great opportunity to build industry solutions that provide an integrated experience across the client’s value chain. The good news is that most software vendors have moved to the cloud & provide a platform (PaaS) layer which significantly cuts down the time taken to curate industry specific IPs for services firms.