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Infosys Chairman seeks to reclaim past glory with digital push

8 December 2017
Infosys’s plans to focus on newer digital technologies will begin showing results in the coming financial year, according to billionaire Co-founder and Chairman Nandan Nilekani (pictured)

Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder and Chairman of Indian software outsourcing giant Infosys, has said that client offerings positioned around cutting edge technologies like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things will help make the company much stronger.

While the rest of the world may see Infosys as a troubled outsourcer that is past its prime, in his first interview since taking on the Chairman role in August, Nilekani explained that he sees an opportunity for the IT services company to reclaim glory.

“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.

Following a turbulent year, which saw management clash with Nilekani’s fellow founders and the abrupt exit of Silicon Valley-based Chief Executive Officer Vishal Sikka, Infosys has named Salil Parekh as its new CEO, who will take up the position in January 2018.

Much of the strategy and execution plans have already been discussed with Parekh, who is joining the company from Capgemini. The new CEO will have a quarter to settle in, but Nilekani says he expects everyone to be “fully aligned” by the time the new fiscal year kicks off in April. And despite the company slashing its sales growth forecast range to 6.5% to 7.5% in US dollar terms, compared with a previous target of as much as 9.1 percent, Nilekani explains that “Infosys is on the path to a really good performance in the coming financial year. We now have a strategy that everybody buys in to, a new CEO and the focus is back on business".

Nilekani insists that outsourcing is not a spent business model, but wants to ensure that every one of the 200,000 employees at Infosys has the opportunity to learn and re-invent themselves. With a future of “extreme automation” facing clients from financial services to retail, training workers on technologies such as AI and machine learning with anytime-anywhere access to tutorials will be crucial, he explained.

Nilekani has chalked out a plan to continue as chairman for another year or more, helping the new CEO integrate as he looks to add board members with a deeper understanding of business and technology. Once all that is in place, he will make himself redundant, he says.

“Infosys should be managed by professionals, founders can’t keep coming back,” he said. “That can’t be the Infosys model.”


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