|Tesco expects Bangalore office to play a central role in developing its competitive edge|
|Thursday, 05 July 2012 13:21|
Tesco, the world's third-largest retailer, is building a crack team in Bangalore as shopping goes online and supply-chain efficiencies become more critical in keeping prices affordable. From scheduling transportation in Thailand to floor planning for its stores in UK, there's a bit of Bangalore in everything Tesco does, and its Chief Information Officer (CIO), Mike McNamara, only sees that growing in the days to come. "Digital and technology will be big battlegrounds within each of the markets," McNamara told ET in an exclusive interview, and he sees the Bangalore office playing a central role in giving it that competitive edge. The centre started in 2004 and Tesco was one of the first retailers to set up a captive unit here. The world's largest retailer, Walmart, also followed setting up Walmart Labs in Bangalore but only a few years ago. Both of them, as well as other global retailers, use Indian service providers for parts of their IT and analytics. McNamara himself is averse to calling Tesco's centre a captive because he finds it subservient. "We've watched it blossom from a fairly solid operations centre into something that's doing this very sophisticated work," he says. The centre employs over 6,000 people, who work on functions as varied as online advertising, mobile applications, store design and transport scheduling, in addition to IT and back-office functions. A team of mathematicians in Bangalore and UK work on algorithms for sophisticated supply chain systems that take into account everything from weather patterns to sporting events and seasonal variations. "If we don't get the mathematics exactly right for the fresh foods, it goes waste. Getting it right is a tricky business - it's a huge leverage on profitability," says McNamara.