Company badly needs a knight in shining armor.
By Rajiv Theodore
NEW DELHI: One of India’s iconic IT firms Infosys had been mired in a crisis of leadership over the past one year. The company, one of the best IT services firm, was not doing very well when compared to its peers and competitors like WIPRO, TCS and HCL. Among the big four, Infosys posted the lowest earnings over the last nine months of FY14.
When Narayana Murthy retired last year and passed on the baton to KV Kamath and S D Shibulal (to help find and groom future leaders) everything seemed perfect and it seemed that the strategy would bear fruits and restore Infosys’ lost glory.
But revenue growth was on the decline even then and the slide continued. It became worse during CEO Shibulal’s tenure. Company members demanded a change in executive leadership. The board sought Murthy’s approval for a change to which he simply said — to build “a desirable Infosys” in 3-5 years. But CEO Shibulal was still there.
It was then that employee attrition levels touched new highs. It is estimated that 500-mid-level managers exited the company during the past 12-months. And among the top levels, 12 senior executives, including global sales head Basab Pradhan, Sudhir Chaturvedi, head of finance in North America, board member V Balakrishnan, former consulting head Stephen Pratt, senior vice presidents Chandrashekhar Kakal and Subrahmanyam Goparaju among others jumped the boat. All members of the executive council — BG Srinivas, Subhash Dhar, Ashok Vemuri and Kakal who were trying to groom a potential CEO amongst the firm’s insiders, also quit. More exits since then — including that of president BG Srinivas, who was seen as a strong contender to succeed CEO Shibulal, increased the exasperation amongst its employees.
However, this loss of its legions of leaders in such a short period had spelled doom for the IT firm. It was then that a ray of hope struck this Bangalore-based firm. Enter Vishal Sikka. The former CTO of SAP, Sikka is seen as the knight in shining armor to the rescue who has been formally announced Thursday morning as the new CEO of the company, the only rank outsider to do so , taking over the reins from the current CEO Shibulal.
Analysts are bullish at the developments. Greyhound Research (an independent IT and telecom research and advisory firm that helps clients with fact-based insights, relevant perspectives and realistic opinions) have welcomed the development and termed it as an interesting transition of the company where Sikka is expected to add significantly his SAP HANA (an in memory data platform) practice at Infosys. Sikka had been the driving force behind the platform.
Also, one of the most significant changes that Infosys could see is that Sikka may opt to operate from the United States as the North American country is its biggest market. The action could in all probabilities shift to the US once Sikka take-over and eventually changing the style of functioning of Infosys forever.