Lest Co-founders Confound Infosys
Good communication should flow both ways
Infosys is going through growing-up pangs of the kind peculiar to Indian mama’s boys, whose fond parents just cannot believe that their precious offsprings continue to get tender, loving care under their new management just as they used to in their parental home, and try to interfere. Reportedly, some co-founders have sought to correct some deviations at the top of the company from its founding values and practices. They should desist. The new management deserves a chance to prove that it is up to the task of transforming the way Indian information technology (IT) companies have been doing business ever since they started riding the outsourcing wave.
Infosys’ driving force, public face and guardian angel Narayana Murthy now wants Indian IT to stop its dependence on visas. This is a perfectly legitimate goal and something that the present management would have little quarrel with. However, Murthy himself had wanted Infosys to not neglect its bread-and-butter work model, when he had seen the company lose steam. Transition is not easy. It calls for doing new things even as doing old things continues to bring in the revenue till the new business model stabilises. Managing the transition calls for new people, new incentives and, at times, new values to make the new incentives work. New values, per se, should not be a problem. Whether an effective transformation of the company is afoot is the nub of the matter. Revenue per employee is a good yardstick to measure the extent of change in the company’s business model. This has not been dramatic, as, say, HCL’s has been. Entry into new, cutting-edge areas of business is another measure. TCS’s big-data analytics for GE does not quite have its counterpart at Infosys. The goal of creating serious consulting capability within the company remains a work in progress.
Yet, it is too early to call the transformation set off under CEO Sikka a flop. Indian IT faces tough challenges in the Trumpian world. It could do without internal mutiny, as it rallies forces against external threats, and steady communication among stakeholders will help.