Vishal Sikka is the unchallenged winner of the Express IT Award for Newsmaker of the Year, 2015.
As an IT services firm, we are not supposed to innovate; we just do what others tell us to. That thinking makes me angry and disturbed and I’m determined to change that.” That’s Vishal Sikka for you, the man with a mission to revive the somewhat jaded Infosys. Sikka, who was brought in to lead the Bengaluru-headquartered firm in mid-2014, has a clear goal: Renew and New. But he’s not merely an ideas man — he knows the nuts and bolts are equally important and with his mantra in mind has put in place the systems and processes needed to deliver his goals. So, even as he unabashedly displays his love for innovation — the company’s start-up fund has been upped fivefold to $500 million — he’s not taking his eye off the bread-and-butter business. For giving Infosys back its mojo and infusing its people with a new sense of purpose Sikka is the unchallenged winner of the Express IT Award for Newsmaker of the Year, 2015.
Following the CEO’s several steps to reorient the firm, Infosys’ market capitalisation rose a smart 45% from R1.86 lakh crore in June 2014 to hit R2.71 lakh crore in early October. Among Sikka’s key introductions has been the revamped compensation structure and performance evaluation criteria for the sales team — the process, for instance, has been simplified to make it more objective. The sales team is now assessed on the basis of two or three key relevant and objective metrics: Revenues, large deal wins and opportunities brought to the table. Earlier, as many as 8-10 metrics were used. The Street is happy with the way Sikka’s running the show — among the clear positives over the past year, it counts the check on attrition, a stable management team, a better defence of business share of the larger accounts and some large deal wins.
Analysts are convinced the initiatives on other fronts are on the right track.
The confidence stems from the relatively stronger numbers the IT firm has posted in the last six months. “Hunting and farming fired in tandem and a lot earlier than expected,” was how one analyst put it after the company beat estimates in Q1FY16 with dollar revenues growing 4.5%. The following three months to September were “near perfect” if the guidance was somewhat subdued. But as industry experts point out, growth is becoming broad-based beyond the accounts under the direct supervision of the CEO’s office, which means the sales team is working more efficiently. Some say these are the early signs of success of a plan that allocated two accounts to each of the top 100 consultants — one from within the top 100 relationships and a second large client from outside the top list.
Sikka had elaborated on this strategy earlier this year, pointing out that Infosys was working closely with the Zurich-based consultancy firm Lodestone that it acquired in 2012. “That team has 100 very distinguished senior people, and each has been allocated two of our top 200 customers. They will co-lead with the sales team, and the combination will bring the company to the client in a more holistic way,” Sikka had said then. That plan seems to be working.