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October - 2013 - issue > IDC of the Month
McAfee-India-Centre-Securing-enterprises-with-visionary-innovation
Sudhakar Singh
Thursday, October 3, 2013
New product design and development is more often than not a crucial factor in the survival of a company. In an industry that is changing fast, firms must continually revise their design and range of products. This is necessary due to continuous technology change and development as well as other competitors and the changing preferences of customers. Without an R&D program, a firm must rely on strategic alliances, acquisitions, and networks to tap into the innovations of others. Research has shown that firms with a consistent R&D strategy outperform those with an irregular or no R&D investment program.California based McAfee Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and the world's largest dedicated security technology company, foresaw the importance of research. This far-sightedness is the reason why today, one of the front-runners in the field of innovation is McAfee's Research and Development Center in Bangalore, where professionals deliver high-quality software security products to customers across the globe.McAfee's India Centre (MIC) is the largest development center for McAfee around the world. The center focuses on research and development in terms of security solutions and product innovation.

India, which houses the largest R&D center of McAfee, is at the center stage of innovation. MIC started in 2002 as a small team which worked as an extension to other teams in the U.S. Just like all other companies, the intention behind opening a center in India was to benefit from cost arbitrage and no one imagined the number of people at the center to touch even hundred. But today, after a decade, MIC has a headcount of over 1500 and almost every product which comes under the McAfee brand umbrella is being worked on here.Several products are fully conceived, developed and brought to completion here.

In its journey of ten years, MIC has developed a ton of senior talent. Today, MIC has seasoned VP level leaders based in India managing global McAfee teams in several business units. They use their unique blend of technical expertise and people management skills to take the organization forward. The center is headed by Anand Prahlad, Managing Director, who joined McAfee from CommVault where he spent sixteen years running product development and was a key member of the executive team that led CommVault through a successful IPO. Under his leadership, McAfee’s India center is taking ownership of key McAfee products and functions, rightfully earning itscolors as a key site for McAfee product lines.With its strong Consumer Engineering team, Data Center team, Network Security team, and McAfee Labs to name just a few, MIC has become the center of gravity for development of new products. "We are trying to draw focus on MIC as a center of technology excellence and we have been quite successful in doing that," says Prahlad.

Inspiring for Innovation

MIC is devoted to the onus of creating a favorable ambience for innovation. One of the key initiatives that MIC pioneered is a program called Tech Track. The program intends to incentivize young engineers to follow a technical path.Through Tech Track, MIC identifies and recognizes senior technical professionals who can be role models and mentor other engineers in the site. There are several platforms such as Principal Architects Forum for senior technical people to contribute to research and advanced development. The Principal Architects Forum consists of a group of McAfee architects from all over the globe, who are considered the company's best minds. They are usually the ones thinking about the future and coming up with forward looking ideas. MIC has several architects based in India who are part of McAfee's global PAF group. In fact the most recent PAF summit was hosted by the architects in MIC. "There is also a PAF incubation team in India which works on different ideas, prototypes them, and manifests them in a form for the PAF and the business units to take a look at and decide on next steps," says Prahlad. There are several platforms for engineers to share their ideas, discuss, and even collaborate in development all through the year. For instance, cross functional teams take on the roles of entrepreneurs-in-residence by developing ideas into complete VC pitches over three week events. And coding competitions (called GeekAThon) to get McAfee Engineers' creative juices flowing. Prahlad's initiatives are enabling India teams to take center stage in future McAfee product plans and incubations across consumer, enterprise and network security products. "The Indian market, which consists of a myriad of small and medium enterprises, is quite demanding and if your solution is a success here, it is very likely that it will succeed in the global market too," adds Prahlad.

To keep innovation going, recruiting and developing the best talent around has always been of vital importance. Prahlad believes that eagerness to learn is a key trait and it is better to hire talent with the right mind-set and train them rather than going out and always looking for pre-developed skills. MIC also collaborates with educational institutions to be a part of their curriculum by bringing out the security aspects and emphasizing on security as a field.
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