At a time when most Indian information technology (IT) services companies are pegging hopes on an improvement in spending by clients in 2015 to set their businesses on a growth trajectory, Infosys’ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Vishal Sikka (pictured) believes the biggest challenge for the company will be to bring about a cultural shift and innovation in the company.
In an interaction with Phil Fersht, CEO of global advisory analyst firm HfS Research, Sikka said, the biggest challenge for Infosys in 2015 would be “transforming ourselves culturally and operationally into a company driven by innovation, driven by delivering much more value add, more innovative services”. To achieve this, he said the company will need a “serious change” in mindset, in its offerings and in operational processes.
“It will be difficult, but we have to do it. And, the good news is that we are already starting to see signs of success in using that approach,” Sikka said.
Sikka, who joined Infosys as its CEO in June 2014 from German software product major SAP, comes from a very different mindset, as there is a wide difference between how a software business works vis-à-vis the functioning of traditional services companies such as Infosys. Since his joining, Sikka has voiced several questions about the norms of the Indian IT services sector.
During an address earlier this year, Sikka had said he finds the current state of the IT services industry “disappointed” and had said that the industry appears to be on a “downward spiral” and it needs to take a better direction. He had said the sector was running on a treadmill of lowering costs, hiring people faster, training them less, and putting them into jobs faster. He also termed the sector's focus on cost arbitrage and lowering costs a "depressing reality". While experts have remained cautious over the direction Sikka would take Infosys in, considering his earlier experience, he told HfS Research that the Bengaluru-based company will continue to be a services company but it will be one that uses software in a big way.
"We will be a services company that uses more and more software," Sikka said. "Most other services-type industries have evolved into that... I think that the context we put around our people can be great amplifiers, can be great enablers for them to deliver tremendous non-linear value. Yet the mechanism of value is the service and the person who provides the service. So, it is not that we have become a product company, but more and more a high value delivering services company."
On a question to what changes he would bring to the IT services business if he was made the emperor of the sector for one week, Sikka said, he would get the industry to focus more on innovation. He said most businesses today are interested in solving the problems of tomorrow and that so IT services companies need to become "problem finders" and not just problem solvers.
"My strong desire is to get the IT services industry out of this downward spiral of progressively lowering cost, jamming people into the supply chain faster and faster from worse and worse colleges, and shoving them into projects faster and faster," Sikka said. "This is the wrong direction. Instead, doing more with less for more is a much better idea. That's what I would love to do."