WELCOME 2017

This is how Vishal Sikka and Azim Premji wished their teams a happy new year

Quartz india
Quartz india

The end of a year is a time for introspection and resolutions. And India’s IT outsourcing industry, looking to stay relevant amid a changing business environment, is in need of some reflection and renewal.

So, marking the end of 2016, two top leaders of the over $150-billion sector—Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka and Wipro chairman Azim Premji—reached out to their teams with their visions for the year ahead.

Sikka, the first non-founding CEO of India’s second-largest IT services company, wrote to around 200,000 Infosys employees (pdf), asking them to focus on innovation and not “just mechanically execute the jobs we are handed.”

“We must remember that operational excellence is an imperative for each one of us. We must focus on delivering the best solutions in the smartest, fastest way possible, and not give up or give in to weaker instincts. Often, teams deliver only what is told, without going beyond the given scope, and with a lackadaisical attitude towards greater value creation. This can no longer be the case.

…There is a long way to go. The road ahead is not easy. The mountains ahead are tall ones. But there is no other way but to get there. If we don’t, we will be made obsolete by the tidal wave of automation and technology-fuelled transformation that is almost upon us.”

In the email, which he wrote while waiting for his flight at Singapore’s Changi Airport, Sikka called 2016 a “strange year.” After all, it included events like Brexit, the US presidential election, demonetisation, the refugee crisis, and growing concerns over cyber security and terrorism.

The future, Sikka wrote, will be even more disruptive. To cope, Infosys will have to stop being just a reactive problem-solver and focus on innovation.

We will not survive if we remain in the constricted space of doing as we are told, depending solely on cost-arbitrage, and working as reactive problem-solvers. By “standing still” instead of moving forward decisively, we will face the brunt of these disruptive forces, as our industry has already started to see… We need to harness the dual forces of automation and innovation.

Meanwhile, 71-year-old Premji, who now focuses on philanthropy, outlined the questions and obstacles raised during 2016. His advice included:

Finding common ground: We must find common ground, rather than focusing on conflicts. The reality of the world is that there will always be disagreement and differences between people, but finding common ground is the only way of moving forward. This is as true in business as in politics and social issues, and as true in personal as in public life.

Connectedness: We must recognise that societies, economies, and the environment are all deeply connected. Individual human beings and peoples find meaning in this connectedness, not in separation and isolation. Our problems and solutions are deeply connected. So every effort of ours to find solutions and to find meaning must strengthen this connectedness.

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