Can Garnick get Keane going?

Steve Hamm

This will be interesting to watch. Rich Garnick, who helped India's Wipro Technologies take off by running its North American operations, is now heading up North American business services for Keane Inc., a medium-size tech services firm based in Boston. Garnick left Wipro a couple of weeks ago amid a shuffling of executives--citing travel burnout. He won't be flying to Bangalore as much in the new job, but India remains central to his formula for success. That's because he plans on tapping India for tens of thousands of programmers.

When Garnick joined Wipro 4 1/2 years ago, it had less than $200 million in annual revenues. Now it's $1.4 billion, and most of that activity is in the US. He helped by building a trim but very effective service delivery organization in the US that effectively sold and implemented software programming and hardware engineering done in Bangalore. "When I joined Wipro and introduced the company to people here, the first slide said 'Who is Wipro?' and the second slide was a map of India," Garnick recalls. "Now," he says, "The Indians have a tremendous headwind."

His new task is to re-engineer Keane to take full advantage of the global service delivery model. Keane, with about $900 million in sales last year, has been growing slowly and delivering weak profits. Right now, about 2,000 of Keane's 9,000 employees are in India. His plan is to up it to perhaps 20,000, while employing a core of programmers in the US to handle government jobs. "I want to put the infantry in India. That will give us the foundation to compete with anybody," he says.

Keane's strengths are its expertise in a handful of markets, including health care, banking, insurance, and government. Ganick plans on deepening the company's sector-specific knowledge and creating more off-the-shelf technology for each area. He also hopes to accelerate growth by targeting jobs that are sizable but still too small for the industry's giants such as IBM and Accenture to focus on. He says the Indian services outfits, including Wipro, still have a lot to do to build up their delivery operations in the US. "This is our market. We're going to bring some yankee ingenuity and get some of it back," he says.

If anybody can spot the vulnerabilities in the Indian services industry, it's Garnick. The big question is: can he change Keane fast enough to take advantage of his insights?