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Vadodara boy warms up to the task ahead

Vishal Sikka in Bangalore on Thursday. (Bangalore News Photos)

Mumbai, June 12: In about 49 days from now, the Indian IT services industry will have to contend with a new name — Vishal Sikka, who will take over as the managing director & chief executive officer of Infosys on August 1.

Coming from a humble background, Sikka went on to become the member of the executive board of Germany’s SAP AG and was instrumental in developing SAP’s bestselling product — HANA.

The son of an Indian Railways officer, Sikka completed his early education from Rosary High School at Vadodara and later studied computer engineering.

He initially joined Xerox as a researcher and later floated two start-ups — iBrain and Bodha.com. The latter was acquired by Peregrine Systems.

He joined SAP AG in 2002 to head its advanced technology group and was subsequently appointed its chief technology officer.

Observers are wondering whether Sikka, who is a “product and R&D guy”, will be successful in a software services company. Also, it remains to be seen whether he will able to pull Infosys back from the reverses such as the exits of senior employees and lower margins vis--vis some of its peers.

Experts aver that Infosys may have done the right thing in appointing Sikka though he will have to face several challenges.

Sudip Bandyopadhyay, president, Destimoney Securities, said, “Infosys needed fresh blood and Vishal Sikka taking charge should be good for the company.”

Bandyopadhyay, however, feels Infosys may have to pass through a “brief period of turbulence”, like many companies go through when such key appointments are made.

A senior official from an IT firm, who did not wish to be identified, pointed out that Sikka’s first major challenge would be to fill up some of the posts left vacant following the senior-level exits over the past few months.

During the quarter ended March 31, 2014, attrition at Infosys was as high as 18.7 per cent, and Sikka’s first major task will be to bring this down.

“This (high attrition) is not an industry problem, it is a company (Infosys) problem and Sikka will have to come up with a solution that is company specific,” the official said.

Another challenge for Sikka will be to transform Infosys to a more value-added player.

Milan Sheth, partner and national leader-technology, at EY India, told The Telegraph that mobile, analytics and cloud computing had emerged as the major sectors and the domestic industry would have to reinvent itself from a mere offshore services model.

 
 
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