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in Work Life Balance by Expert (35,210 points)
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For all practical purposes, you could say @WalmartLabs is basically all of Walmart engineering. Technically, there is no real differentiated '@Labs' per se any more. All of engineering practically operates under one umbrella brand, namely, WalmartLabs. There are diverse team establishments such as GEC, ISD, etc... all of which go by this name.

In Walmart, different cultures and team setups co-exist. From stores to Walmart engineering, the cultural gap is enormous, which is understandable. Across Walmart engineering by itself, there are again a huge mix of cultures. Almost service-company-style schools of thought all the way till the new age product-company-style work cultures exist together under one roof. One could say that there is no 'defined' culture as such. This is also because, the company has not yet taken a hard stand to define and implement what its engineering culture is. In my opinion, it is a big challenge and drawback that it hasn't. This plays a big role in their internal and external brand perception challenges. Quite a few people seem to have questions around which team are they going to join and logically so. It is indeed true that the way things operate, management goodness, etc... depend on the sorta teams/projects you end up in. This is typically true of many companies, but the cultural and talent pool disparities make this more complex in the case of Walmart.

Inevitably as with any big organization, there are broad attempts in WalmartLabs to bridge the setups as hard and slow processes get established gradually. A lot of the decisions and processes seem to be more finance-driven, than culture-driven though. While such processes are put in place, there are challenges of dilution that the organization deals with, perhaps even willingly so. There is a lot of top-down decision making and an apparent tendency to look-away from challenges. Communication is not as transparent as it should be. But, one thing the company continues to do well is to hire talent with very competitive salaries and great facilities - free cabs, lunch, biz class US travels are hardly common in Indian companies. I would have loved to say 'great' talent, but the hiring processes are also fragmented, so a mix of talent pools co-exist. As of the time of writing, WalmartLabs still continues to possess some really amazing rare talent, but for an external person who can only see the whole umbrella under one brand, it is conceivably hard to identify this pool. There is no continuing drive to 'raise the bar' of the organization as a whole, so the overall bar has dropped compared to what existed 2-3 years ago.

With respect to technologies, the organization seems forward thinking in spirit. Teams do try to look at new-age technologies - big data clusters and NoSQL setups are commonplace. The @Platform, @Services classification exists breadth-wise, but there is no @Labs as I mentioned. The major classification is based on business verticals - Customer Promise, Customer Experience, Customer Acquisition and Management, Catalog Management. They do try to innovate on customer experience and price competitiveness a lot, and some projects that exist on these fronts are definitely fairly advanced. The space I used to work on while I was there - digital marketing, was definitely state of the art. Can hardly imagine such projects being so advanced in any other company. Such projects do exist at Walmart today. I hope they continue to foster an environment where one can still 'create' such projects and great talent pools. In terms of technical excellence, it is probably still early to conclude. Only time will tell how far WalmartLabs will go.
by Expert (35,210 points)