Infosys turns a new leaf, sheds risk aversion

Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka may end the IT giants' famously risk-aversive trait with his bold gambit. Even if it is a gamble, it is a worthy one, writes N Madhavan.

columns Updated: Jan 11, 2015 19:37 IST
N Madhavan
N Madhavan
Hindustan Times

It was nice to get away from the cold air of Delhi to visit the Infosys campus in Bangalore - where a new, more agreeable breeze seems to be blowing. Oops, the city is now called Bengaluru but its Garden City image - of a leafy, laid-back pensioner town has taken a beating. I walked from the imposing JW Marriott past an outlet that advertised "Lamborghini Bengaluru" and an Audi showroom that displayed its nameplate in Kannada.

Turns out that Infosys is also trying to be the Lamborghini of IT services under its five-month-old CEO, Vishal Sikka. The former SAP board member finds it difficult to live down his Silicon Valley flamboyance - and why should he? With a company venture fund now raised five-fold to $500 million, Sikka seems to be enjoying a double career as a venture capitalist and the CEO of a company that has more than 150,000 employees.

At the post-results news conference, Sikka mentioned artificial intelligence and neural networks more often than "capacity utilisation" or "billing rate" - the old catch phrases.

Sikka is the first non-founder to run Infosys, but in a spiritual sense, a worthy successor for main founder NR Narayana Murthy. While Infosys listed on the Nasdaq in 1999, it was still doing humble Year 2000 bug fixing (Y2K) but talking of joining the Big Five consultants. A tumultous decade that followed made it appear more like a code shop that it always was - despite brave efforts at the Infosys 3.0 programme that aimed for innovation.

Sikka may end Infosys' famously risk-aversive trait with his bold gambit. Even if it is a gamble, it is a worthy one.

First Published: Jan 11, 2015 19:32 IST