N.R. Narayana Murthy is a revered figure in India. So, not surprising he is hearing murmurs to return, Steve Jobs style, to Infosys, the firm he co-founded. Reading this interview with him though it struck me how little of a difference it would likely make. He primarily emphasizes financial performance - “Predictability of revenue, sustainability of revenue, profitability of revenue and de-risking of revenue”. No mention of customer focus, no innovation talk.
Unfortunately, to me that has defined Infosys for a while now. After Tom Friedman’s World is Flat celebrated their Bangalore campus, I saw on several visits with clients and prospects how that was emphasized in the Infosys value proposition. During one visit I had to pull the sales person out and ask him “Have you been to this customer’s own impressive HQ campus? Trust me your brick and mortar will not impress them enough to do business with you. Please focus on their specific needs”
In the last few years, Infosys has paid for a pole position at Oracle Open World – the keynote just before Larry Ellison’s. But that has been more of an executive showcase exercise, when Infosys should be putting its most innovative customers and projects on stage. The crowds who leave in droves don’t seem to bother Infosys.
A bit unfair, but the same reporter interviewed Francisco D’Souza, CEO of Cognizant a few weeks ago. The contrast in the two interviews is striking. Francisco comes across global, focused on new technology markets, customer focused. Murthy comes across India centric (even though Infosys has a similar global customer base) and primarily focused on financial performance. Restoring the polish at Infosys will need to start by changing that tone.