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EPAM Targets Major Expansion in India, Aims to Double Workforce in 3-4 Years

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Financial Express – by Padmini Dhruvaraj

EPAM Targets Major Expansion in India, Aims to Double Workforce in 3-4 Years

EPAM has significantly increased its strategic focus on India, positioning it as a crucial hub for growth and innovation, Elaina Shekhter, chief marketing & strategy officer and SVP told FE.

Amidst the global upheavals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Pennsylvania-based software engineering firm, EPAM has significantly increased its strategic focus on India, positioning it as a crucial hub for growth and innovation, Elaina Shekhter, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer and SVP told Financial Express.

She said that the company has outlined ambitious plans for the region, including a significant workforce expansion. The aim is to more than double its employee count in India, reaching nearly 20,000 employees.

“Over the next several years, we believe that India will continue to be among the top 3 locations for EPAM. Today it is the second largest delivery center for the company,” Shekhter said.

EPAM has five locations across India with a workforce exceeding 8,000 employees, which is an increase of about 150% in the last two years. Further, the company plans to recruit 500 in the ongoing financial year and add 1,000 more in the next year.

The shift towards India was accelerated by the necessity to relocate operations from Russia following the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine. “As a result of the war, we closed Russia and had to do quite a bit of relocation in and out of Ukraine, which made it even more imperative for us and for our clients to offer a much more scaled capability in India than what we had available at the time,” Shekhter said. This strategic move has not only mitigated risks but also garnered positive feedback from clients. “We were a little worried after moving from Ukraine to India, but our clients are happy,” she added.

Innovation Centers

EPAM is not just increasing its workforce and office space in India; it’s also focusing on fostering innovation through the establishment of ‘garages’—creative spaces where teams can innovate across various domains, including cloud and data. The company is set to supersize its existing facility in Bengaluru in a month.

“This year you know maybe a month after that (Bengaluru hub’s inauguration) we will do it in Chennai and a couple of months after that in Pune as well and Hyderabad and Gurgaon,” said Srinivas Reddy, managing director at EPAM.

AI boost to efficiency

EPAM is harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline operations and enhance efficiency. The application of AI spans across corporate processes and engineering, aiming to transform the standard operational and development practices fundamentally. “The first one is how we run the company. Our goal is to simplify the company in a way that is permanent… and every process in the company is being reviewed and adapted with the use of AI tools,” Shekhter said.

In the realm of engineering, EPAM has initiated a broad global program that redefines the engineering lifecycle through the integration of generative AI. “We’re using gen AI to change the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) itself,” Shekhter said. This initiative is part of EPAM’s extensive effort to revamp its engineering practices, with numerous labs exploring generative AI use cases both internally and for clients.

Beyond operational efficiencies and engineering, EPAM is also focusing on domain-specific solutions using gen AI. “We are using gen AI to build accelerators for various domains, such as supply chain transformation and insurance underwriting,” Shekhter said. These efforts are supported by visible placements on major Cloud Service Provider (CSP) marketplaces like AWS and GCP and involve significant moves towards open-source deployments.

AI deals generating revenue?

As AI technologies continue to evolve, EPAM is strategically positioning itself to harness these advancements, not just for operational enhancements but also as a significant driver of revenue growth. This approach, however, comes with nuanced challenges and considerations, particularly in the context of modernization and client expectations as there is still a lot of “technical debt,” Shekhter said.

“AI and generative AI require a solid data foundation to truly leverage these new technologies,” Shekhter said. The company has observed that many of its modernization programs, necessary for preparing the data landscape, are ongoing. While these programs show promise, they often do not immediately translate into large revenue streams as they are part of a gradual progression from proof of concept (POC) to pilot, and then to full production deployment.

Nonetheless, while these AI-centric projects promise more significant revenue potential due to their ability to deliver outsized gains, it’s still a little soon. Shekhter said: “It’s a little too soon to declare that AI is going to change the number picture.”

This uncertainty is partly due to the procurement processes of large organizations which have not fully adapted to the unique demands of buying AI services. Additionally, sophisticated clients prefer to retain the lion’s share of the benefits derived from AI enhancements rather than passing them on to vendors like EPAM. “They want to capitalize on their AI investments themselves,” she said.

Original article published here.

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