Infosys, the most respected technology company in India for several years has started signs of cracking. The myth and aura which was meticulously build around them has started crumbling. Although painful for many, this is just the beginning of the process. My experiences and inputs from various IT and business leaders globally, it was coming out clear that Infosys was doing far too many things which has to have an impact very soon on their sheen. Few years back, I was in the process of getting quotes from various established vendors for partnership in our IT organization as an end user. While every major IT company in India responded and looked serious about the potential opportunity, there was no response from Infosys. It was finally told to us by one of their senior managers that as a policy, Infosys do not do any business in Indian market nor there is any mandate from their management about the same. Therefore Infosys as a company cannot participate in the given business opportunity. It left many of us thinking as to how a company with no national participation can be the most respected Indian company in India. This prompted me to make candid remarks against them in the NASSCOM Leadership forum in early 2009 where I was one of the speakers representing a large Indian business house. It is again a matter of thinking that IBM, being a North American company has bagged largest deals in India amounting in several billion USD. The most notable among them are Bharati Telecom, Vodafone India and Idea Mobile multiyear deals. I am sure, Infosys leadership were not awake from their dreams till then. HCL was quick to realize their mistakes and Vineet did an excellent job turning them around. Wipro is following the suit although very late. Infosys however has been complacent all along and they are going to pay a heavy price for their attitude. My friend in US who had an experience of dealing with Infosys in one of their negotiations commented that there is a vast difference he found in the attitude of Infosys staff and Cognizant teams. While Infosys teams were busy showing the campus and their assets they have build and finally being highly inflexible in negotiations, Cognizant technology teams spend all their time in understanding the requirements and preferred to visit the customers instead of spending time in showing their campus. They were highly flexible on commercials and the deal was done. The arrogant Infosys staffers did not even follow up or attempted to understand what went wrong. The only thing their teams did was to push harder for more work and how they can add more headcount at onsite locations. The good thing about Infosys teams however he commented was that level of customer relationship by account teams which resulted in them being paid premium for their services, but bad economic situation is simply eroding that advantage very fast. Another senior IT colleague of mine in US puts this very simply. Nothing justifies the premium charged by companies like Infosys, mainly when US companies struggles with less than 5% margin and Infosys keeps posting 30% profits year on year. Many companies are looking at options for putting Indian captive companies instead and manage them well to get far better cost and quality advantage. In my opinion, Infosys leadership has been glorified by media and Indian government far more than what they actually deserve. This is high time when they wake up and save their shareholders from the loss which seems almost certain in years to come.
Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by IndiasGreatest.com ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.