In­fosys is bor­ing again, and that’s a good thing: Chair­man Nilekani

The Northlines - - BUSINESS -

In­fosys Ltd. has re­turned to sta­bil­ity, al­most a year af­ter the ap­point­ment of a new chief ex­ec­u­tive ended a tu­mul­tuous pe­riod at the In­dian soft­ware and ser­vices com­pany. Chair­man Nan­dan Nilekani, speak­ing on the side­lines of Bloomberg’s New Econ­omy Fo­rum in Sin­ga­pore, said that the turn­around is com­plete. “This is all very much from the past,” he said of the board tur­moil that en­gulfed the com­pany last year. “I’ve been chair­man now over a year. We have an ex­cel­lent CEO in Salil Parekh. In­fosys is re­ally on a very sta­ble and for­ward-look­ing path.” In­vestors seem to agree. The Ban­ga­lore- based com­pany’s shares are up al­most 30 per­cent this year, com­pared with a 3.1 per­cent gain in 2017. In the lat­est quar­ter, In­fosys booked more than $2 bil­lion in deals and net in­come topped pro­jec­tions. Parekh, who for­mally took over in Jan­uary, has fo­cused on sta­bi­liz­ing the com­pany af­ter pub­lic wran­gles be­tween its board and co­founders cul­mi­nated in the dra­matic exit of the well- re­garded Vishal Sikka.

“The fu­ture of In­dia’s IT ser­vices is bright be­cause all over the world, the busi­nesses and even gov­ern­ments are go­ing through a huge dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion,” Nilekani said. “Be it au­to­mo­bile, re­tail, fi­nan­cial ser­vices, in every in­dus­try there is mas­sive rein­ven­tion go­ing on.”

The same is true for Tata Con­sul­tancy Ser­vices Ltd., In­fosys’s big­ger ri­val, which in April be­came In­dia’s first com­pany to top $ 100 bil­lion in mar­ket value in more than a decade. Both are ad­just­ing to the adop­tion of au­to­ma­tion in key ar­eas such as fi­nan­cial ser­vices, while im­mi­gra­tion curbs ham­per its abil­ity to move work­ers into its largest mar­ket of the U.S. In­dia’s $ 167 bil­lion- IT ser­vices in­dus­try is now in­vest­ing in cloud com­put­ing and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence to jump-start growth. Nilekani also pointed to Aad­haar, In­dia’s bio­met­ric na­tional ID sys­tem, as an op­por­tu­nity for com­pa­nies like In­fosys as well as a tool of em­pow­er­ment for in­di­vid­u­als. Us­ing iris-scan­ning tech­nol­ogy, the database lets peo­ple iden­tify them­selves, while pri­vate com­pa­nies have em­braced it as a way to au­then­ti­cate job seek­ers, blood donors and loan ap­pli­cants.

“His­tor­i­cally, data has ben­e­fited com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ments,” the In­fosys chair­man said. “In­dia’s unique in­fra­struc­ture, thanks to Aad­haar, thanks to its reg­u­la­tions, has the abil­ity for every in­di­vid­ual to ac­cess his own data and put it to good use. We call that data em­pow­er­ment, which means a per­son can use his own data to get a loan, bet­ter health care, bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion.”

The New Econ­omy Fo­rum is be­ing or­ga­nized by Bloomberg Me­dia Group, a di­vi­sion of Bloomberg LP, the par­ent com­pany of Bloomberg News.

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