Vishal Sikka working on new strategy for Infosys

There is still one month to go before Vishal Sikka takes over as chief executive of Infosys, but the former SAP board member has been preparing to hit the ground running in his new assignment. In the weeks since he was named the CEO-designate, Sikka has been turning to friends and strategy experts to help him formulate a winning plan for India’s second largest software company.

Sikka has started talks with a California-based advisory firm, Gardner & Associates Consulting, as Infosys looks to strengthen its partnerships with customers and retain senior managers, many of whom have become jumpy after a string of senior-level departures.

“While Sikka and I are discussing how I can be of assistance to him and Infosys, he will be looking to understand what Infosys must do to strengthen relationships with its customers and the Infosys team,” said Dave Gardner, founder of Gardner & Associates Consulting.

To reach out to Alan Kay
The firm is based in San Jose and counts IBM, Dell and Cisco Systems as its clients. Sikka will be meeting Gardner during the middle of July. It is unclear yet how the advisory firm will assist Sikka as it has not been formally roped in by Infosys but Gardner said that he would know of the “next steps” at Infosys once he meets the CEO-designate.

“Churn at the top of the organisation is an obvious concern that must be understood and addressed,” said Gardner. Sikka, regarded as a technology visionary, was appointed as the first non-founder CEO of Infosys earlier this month. Analysts are interpreting the decision as a bold bet by a company that has been underperforming the industry after being a growth leader and industry benchmark for several years.

Another person that Sikka, 47, will reach out to is Alan Kay, a computer researcher known for groundbreaking inventions at Xerox, and professor at Stanford University, according to people familiar with his plan.

Since Sikka would also be a consulting professor (at Stanford), he would also possibly reach out to some of his peers and mentors for understanding the trends in computing, said Vijay Vijayasankar, Arizona-based vice-president of global channels and business development at database software provider MongoDB.

Kay declined to comment, citing conflict of interest as he is also consulting for SAP and helping the German software firm set up a new research lab, an engagement which started last year while Sikka was still at the company. The 74-year-old Kay is considered as a visionary for his work on personal computing and is best known for Dynabook — a portable suite of hardware, software, programming tools and services — that many believe was the inspiration for the laptop and the iPad.

At the time of his appointment on June 12, Sikka had said that over the coming weeks he will learn from employees, senior management and clients as he takes over from the incumbent, SD Shibulal.

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