Infosys to focus on innovation, new solutions: Sikka

Sikka, whose appointment as CEO and MD of Infosys was approved by shareholders, also said he would continue and grow the culture and the processes at the company, which was set up in 1981.

PTI| Updated: Jul 30, 2014, 21:56 PM IST

Bangalore: New Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka on Wednesday said his strategy to turnaround the country's second largest IT exporter would revolve around bringing in innovation and building new solutions to meet customer needs, while broadly sticking to the plan put in place by founders.

Sikka, whose appointment as CEO and MD of Infosys was approved by shareholders, also said he would continue and grow the culture and the processes at the company, which was set up in 1981. He will be the first non-founder CEO of Infosys and will take over from S D Shibulal on Aug 1, 2014.

"...The company is built on very deep rooted culture and deep rooted set of values, so my first order of business is to continue and grow that- the culture, the processes and the plan that has been put into place by the founders," Sikka told reporters.

"First of all- the feeling is of being very grateful and humbled; earlier today we celebrated the careers of Shibu (Shibula, outgoing CEO&MD) and Srinath (Srinath Batni, outgoing Board member)," Sikka, a former SAP executive, said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Infosys Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) that approved his appointment with requisite majority, Sikka said: "There comes a time in the life of a company when the instinct and the knowledge of the founders is replaced by processes and structures and principles and the innovation that we put together."

"Pravin (U B Pravin Rao, COO of Infosys)and my endeavour will be to do that," he added.

Stating that he deeply believes that the world around was becoming fundamentally reshaped with software, Sikka said "everything we see around us is becoming software defined, and that gives Infosys a tremendous opportunity to help with that, to help reshape that in every industry whether it is banks and financial services, manufacturing, oil and gas, retail- in every industry."

"So I'm looking forward to augmenting to the work we have done traditionally with new kinds of initiatives, new kinds of innovations that can be brought to clients," he added.

Pointing out that understanding of what customer demand is a challenge that every company in the world has right now, Sikka said: "New kinds of solutions need to be built in, some solution exist already that we integrate for example - in marketing, in retail. Others need to be built and we will build them together with clients; so that is one area that is very exciting."

To a question on any changes in strategy he has planned for the company, Sikka said "it is too early, but I will say that the initiatives taken by Murthy (Narayana Murthy), Kris (S Gopalakrishnan), and Shibu (Shibulal) over the last year or so have started to show results and we are confident that the team that we have in place and the regional momentum is in our favor, and therefore we see no reason to change it."

Infosys had announced the selection of Sikka as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director (CEO & MD) of the company on June 12. He was inducted as a whole-time director of the Board and CEO & MD (Designate) on June 14, 2014.

The company will pay its new chief executive officer upto USD 5.08 million in annual salary, besides a stock option of USD 2 million.
Sikka said: "If you look at manufacturing,software is making its way into machines, software is making its way into management of machines; .....Manufacturing is becoming completely transformed."

"In the energy industry, the exploration of oil and gas is becoming completely digitised. So there are all kinds of new areas, new application areas, new innovation areas where software is coming for first time, and I'm looking forward to building innovation of that."

Welcoming the opportunity to continue the extraordinary culture of learning that Infosys provides, Sikka said: "I'm looking forward to go to Mysore on this trip and hanging out with the trainees there. We have a great university out there, I'm really looking forward to seeing that and continuing that culture of education, learning."

"Once we have a company that can learn anything, then we can do anything," he stated.

To a shareholder's question on managing affairs at Bangalore as he would be based out of California, Sikka said: "Pravin will be here, Pravin and I will work closely together. Pravin will be responsible for all the matters in Bangalore. Whenever I'm not here, he will be responsible for all the operational aspects of the company."

Infosys board had appointed Pravin Rao, President and whole-time director, as Chief Operating Officer, with effect from June 14, 2014.

Sikka said: "...We do look forward to bringing some great innovation into our company going forward. The world around us is becoming fundamentally reshaped by softwares, and as a distinguished provider of software- we have a great opportunity to help this transformation of the world that is happening around."

"It is happening in every industry that we already operate in, so actually it is a great opportunity in bringing new innovative software to our clients through the existing framework that we have."

"I feel confident in the future, I feel that we have a great journey ahead of us," he added.
Questions were also raised by a shareholder on the absence of Narayana Murthy at the EGM, to which
Gopalakrishnan said: "Mr Murthy had a sort of emergency eye surgery which requires him to take rest for almost a month and that is the reason why he is not able to participate."

Narayana Murthy and Kris Gopalakrishnan had voluntarily stepped down as Executive Chairman and Executive Vice Chairman on June 14, 2014. In order to facilitate a smooth transition of responsibilities, the company had said they would continue on the Board till October 10, 2014 as Non-executive Chairman and Non-executive Vice Chairman.