Infosys Ltd’s plan to turn disruption to its advantage by focusing on newer digital technologies will begin showing results in the coming financial year, according to billionaire co-founder and Chairman Nandan Nilekani.
Client offerings positioned around cutting edge technologies like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things will help make Infosys much stronger, Nilekani said in his first interview since taking on the chairman’s role in August.
While the rest of the world may see Infosys as a troubled outsourcer that is past its prime, Nilekani sees an opportunity for Asia’s second-largest IT services company to reclaim glory. But it’s not going to be easy after a calamitous year that saw management clash with his fellow founders and the abrupt exit of Silicon Valley-based chief executive officer Vishal Sikka. Days ago the company named Salil Parekh, a top executive from a European rival, as its new CEO.
“The world and its businesses are in the midst of the biggest re-imagining and transformation I’ve seen in the last 40 years, offering us a huge opportunity,” Nilekani said. “Our goal is to make sure we are positioned to deliver, so that we’ll again be in the right place at the right time,” he said, “We just have to do it.”
The billionaire, who returned after an eight-year gap, is a man on a mission as Infosys tackles the challenge of reinvention in an outsourcing industry facing slower growth and narrower margins. It must also contend with the Trump administration’s tightening controls over the worker visa programme that the industry relies on.
Bangalore-based Infosys was founded by a cohort of middle-class engineers in 1981 with $200 of their savings. They built the company into a global brand by employing thousands of bright, relatively low-salaried engineers to cater to global corporations like Citigroup Inc, Microsoft Corp and Deutsche Bank AG. Revenue, profits and headcount all grew in the double digits.
But as technological change sweeps through industries from retail to financial services, clients are demanding that outsourcers automate mundane tasks while helping them transform into digital businesses.
“There’s a large opportunity out there helping global clients re-imagine their business, it’s opportunity of a new kind,” said Nilekani. One such client request was to use natural language processing and AI to make mortgage processing more efficient in mitigating risk.
“A lot of things we do are subject to commoditisation and automation,” he said at his sprawling house in Bengaluru’s Koramangala neighbourhood, an area dubbed billionaire’s Row and where fellow Infosys founder Kris Gopalakrishnan has a home. “We need to make our new businesses grow quickly with bigger margins – we need to manage both these things well.”
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