Note: The following posting was scheduled for posting on November 5, but due to a technical glitch, is now published.

This author has had a business and research coverage relationship with Infosys Limited for over 8 years, and thus I look forward to the invitation to attend the annual Infosys Industry Analyst Summit meeting.

Our Supply Chain Matters impressions of the prior 2013 event can be read at this web link.

I was especially looking forward to this year’s event because the firm has undergone yet another year of considerable change including a host of new senior executive changes. That includes the naming of former SAP CTO Visual Sikka in the role of CEO and Managing Director that occurred in August.

The CEO address was the first and probably most anticipated item of today’s industry analyst briefing agenda.  It was clear that Visual has already placed a different mark on the firm, one that will emphasize even higher levels of technology innovation for clients, but more importantly, a more empowered, critical thinking and skilled based complement of employees. Within his remarks to analysts, Sikka made no mention of SAP or the SAP HANA technology platform which he previously propelled, which is statement of itself toward a new mission and identity.

Make no mistake, CEO Sikka is driving a broader vision as well as a more focused business model for Infosys that includes wide-scale change management implications.  In his remarks, he specifically addressed the feedback he has heard thus far from industry clients, namely the ongoing agenda of more rapid business change, both in core business processes and new business innovation.  He further shared feedback from Infosys employees who desire deeper engagements with clients and broadened opportunities for learning and career growth.  It was very clear to this author that Visual has already begun to make his mark in his first 90 days of leadership.

A series of follow-on keynote sessions focused on renewing core infrastructure and cloud technology services, broader capabilities leveraging Infosys’s EdgeVerve digital platform capabilities for clients, and the leveraging of an innovation services framework that focuses on delivery of client value in faster 3-6 month cycles.

Within Infosys itself, there are capabilities that can train 16,000 employees simultaneously, and those resources are now destined towards empowering employees with added critical thinking and client engagement skills. One example shared is that over a span of 10 days, 5200 employees were recently trained in design-thinking skills.  Plans call for over 30,000 employees to be trained in these skills by the end of the year. New academic partnerships are being focused toward other skill areas that provide the firm’s consultants, developers and contributors with critical thinking and collaborative team skills. This area is highly important because Infosys has undergone a higher level of employee attrition since founder N.R. Narayana Murthy returned from retirement to oversee what he felt were required business and management model changes. That led to a host of executive level departures.

For this analyst, the new Infosys from the persona or its new CEO appears at first blush to be more approachable, more willing to partner, more inclined to leverage open system platforms and be more sensitized to client requirements for quicker bursts of time-to-value in technology innovation.  This is refreshing.

During today’s event, I had the opportunity to view demonstrations of some rather interesting technology efforts already underway.  One was directed in joint work with a certain global car manufacturer in enabling a smarter, safer car driving experience.  We hope to share more visibility to this effort in an upcoming Supply Chain Matters commentary.

Our disappointment today is that specific direction and efforts addressing manufacturing and retail industries were not included within the main keynote agenda. Last year’s briefings have specific emphasis in these areas which leads us concerned that these industries may take a back seat to other strategic industry sector initiatives. One-on-one interviews validated that retail industry efforts continue to drive client innovation efforts and that retail business and IT teams indeed demand shorter time-to-value benefits for their technology investment efforts. Clearly stated was that the era of two-year consulting and system integration windows are over.  Retail clients can and will no longer tolerate such timelines.

Our impressions of the 2013 industry analyst event noted that a clear shortfall for Infosys was its ability to effectively market its broader array of capabilities among line-of-business and broad functional based manufacturing and retail audiences.  That impression remains even more poignant in 2014. Today’s customer panels included names we are not allowed to disclose under Safe-Harbor declaration, However, these customer executives provided comments regarding unexpected but positive discoveries of Infosys team capabilities and responsiveness to time-critical milestones. That, by our lens, is yet another indicator that  the Infosys leadership team clearly has to pay added attention to the firm’s overall marketing strategies specifically related to industry and functional support capabilities for both line of business as well as IT audiences.  World class technology delivery requires world-class presence and identity.

The takeaway for our readers is that while Infosys transcends into yet another period of renewal, this one appears at the surface to be more positive with deeper change management tenets.  Time will tell.

Bob Ferrari