I'm the Technology Editor at Forbes India and I love writing about all things tech. Explaining the big picture, where tech meets business and society, is what drives me. I don't get to do that every day, but I live for those well-crafted stories, written simply, sans jargon.
Walmart Labs India, one of three technology units of Walmart Inc., has been something of a well-kept secret thus far, both in size and the scope of work the centre is turning out for the Bentonville-based $500 billion retail giant.
That is changing now. Walmart Labs India is looking to ramp up its workforce further with the goal of producing game-changing solutions for its parent firm, from its base in Bengaluru.
“We want to focus a lot more on thought leadership and innovation,” said Hari Vasudev, country manager and vice president – technology, Walmart Labs India, to Forbes India in a recent interview. “We really want the next break-out ideas to come from this centre.”
If US retail numbers anything to go by, in terms of context, consider that the data for December—the festive season—showed the worst slump in nine years. That makes work at centres like Walmart Labs India a lot more urgent and interesting, as the global parent looks for ways to make its operations more effective and efficient.
At the same time, Vasudev wants to make the India development centre—as the labs are sometimes referred to internally—a shining example of diversity and inclusion. The overall workforce at the centre doubled to about 2,200 last year, and this year, Vasudev expects to grow by another 50 percent to 60 percent.
And Vasudev is looking for talent across the spectrum, from programmers to data scientists. The Bengaluru centre, more than 10 years old, has already delivered some innovative solutions, such as one that optimises work at the pharmacy chains in the US Walmart stores. The centre even has an NOC, or network operations centre, of its own, monitoring Walmart stores worldwide.
“We represent every part of the Walmart technology and product ecosystem,” Vasudev said. That includes global data analytics and machine learning, along with health and wellness. The centre is building Walmart’s next-generation online pharmacy systems and merchant technologies, and solutions for marketplace sellers and supply chain systems for Sam’s Club, which is a membership-based loyalty and benefits programme.
Over the last two years in particular, changes in Walmart Labs India have reflected the global reorganisation at the parent company, focusing on the US business, international business and Sam’s Club. And in those two years “we have been on a bit of a hiring spree,” Vasudev said. “Our teams are working on just about every aspect of Walmart’s technology stack and business.”