Vendor change has driven our growth

Written by Surabhi Agarwal | Updated: Oct 29 2009, 06:18am hrs
Despite IT bigwigs like Infosys and Wipro signalling at a possible recovery in IT spends, Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies, refuses to throw caution to the wind. Nayar, who has led the company to report a 19% year-on-year growth even during the slowdown, is still cautiously optimistic. In a conversation with FEs Surabhi Agarwal, Nayar explains his fears, talks about past mistakes and the road to recovery. Excerpts:

The mood at HCL is pretty sombre as compared to your peers. Are you not as optimistic about recovery

HCL has always believed that we should show you the market the way it is rather than talk it up. My commentary on the market scenario is vis--vis reality. The mood is not sombre at HCL otherwise you wouldnt have seen us announce salary increases, or reporting such stellar performance.

Dont you think it is slightly late in the day to arrive at a four-quarter-only hedging policy after suffering huge forex losses for many quarters in a row

Yes. When we took this decision in late 2007- early 2008, it was based on the assumption that dollar would go one way, but it went the other way. Was that decision wrong Absolutely yes! We should have not covered 13-14 quarters. We had thought about it earlier but now that we have only four quarters left, we are announcing it. HCL is good at learning from past mistakes.

Dont you agree with your peers that the demand situation is stabilising

I dont know about their views. My view is that the deal pipelines have softened a bit. Since vendor positions have stabilised, consolidation exercises are fewer now. According to estimates, 80% of the S&P 500 companies will start reporting positive growth after three quarters. The moment that visibility is there, the discretionary spend will come up. So, the next growth cycle will be more transformational and discretionary. It is possible that growth may come back early or even later. What I am saying is that I see nothing to spark a celebration. We should be cautiously optimistic.

Are you expecting a faster recovery in any of the verticals

Financial services will always remain ahead of the curve. Consumer facing verticals and financial services will see the fastest recovery.

Many companies are reporting an uptick in demand on back of M&A integration work

So, I have not said it and I dont believe in it.

Are you not seeing that kind of business

I am seeing that kind of work but its not driving growth. How much work is there in M&A integration I am not a believer in that theory.

So, what is driving your growth

Vendor change. People are unhappy with the exiting vendors and they are doing vendor consolidation. What has happened is with the recession, all the equations are changing and there is a considerable amount of churn in the market place. So there are opportunities floating around

But how sustainable it is

It is not. Thats the reason why am I cautious about future. We need external stimuli, which could be recession getting over and discretionary spend, to drive growth.