Amid growing challenges from the changing technology landscape and increasingly restrictive visa regimes, Indian information technology companies such as Infosys are increasing their local presence in the US, in order to adopt new business models faster and beat the concerns over immigration curbs.
Infosys, the Indian IT bellwether, said on Tuesday that its will hire about 10,000 employees in the US over the next two years in addition to opening four technology and innovation hubs there, in an effort to tide over the H-1B visa restriction issues. Infosys’ first hub will open in Indiana in August this year and will create 2,000 jobs for US locals by the year 2021. The location of the other three hubs will be decided over the next few months.
These proposed hubs will help Infosys to work in close coordination with its clients in financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, retail and energy. Also these new hires and local centres will help Infosys expand its role in the upcoming areas of technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, cloud and big data.
“As work becomes more next-gen, you need a more healthier mix of global and local talent and so, you need to re-think the traditional, what has historically been called ‘global delivery model’ and bring in a lot more talent locally,” Infosys Chief Executive Officer Vishal Sikka said.
Infosys’ first hub will open in Indiana in August this year and will create 2,000 jobs for US locals by the year 2021, Sikka said. The location of the other three hubs will be decided over the next few months.
However, Sikka said Infosys is not taking these steps just to mitigate the impact of stricter visa norms in the US, but also to build a pedigree of developing futuristic technology-led tools and products, which ease the clients’ work by automating routine tasks. Over the last three years, there has been an increase in the use of new technologies like AI and virtual reality and even the traditional projects are becoming highly automated, Sikka said.
Brothers in arms
Infosys is not alone in ramping up its US local presence to counter the challenges. TCS, India’s largest IT company, has already started cutting the number of H-1B visas it applies for. N Chandrasekaran, the company’s then CEO had said at an event earlier this year that in 2016, TCS applied for only 4,000 new US visas, as against 14,000 in 2015.
“There is a lot of commentary (recently) about the increase in the visa fee… (and) the number of visas one will get. We are addressing both very proactively. In terms of the number of visas that we will get, we decided more than a year ago that we have to operate in a visa-constraint regime,” Chandrasekaran had said. “We are able to successfully execute (our orders) by making changes to our business model. So we believe that we are preparing ourselves well to handle the headwind should it arise,” he added.
Tech Mahindra, another leading Indian IT company, too is increasingly investing in hiring more and more local people in the US as a part of its efforts to maintain competitiveness (read more). “Tech Mahindra is very conscious that not only the US, but the world is about localisation now,” CP Gurnani, CEO Tech Mahindra had said earlier this year. “Local skills have to be upgraded so that the products continue to be getting delivered,” he had added.