Infy’s Kris: IT & beyond, change is round the corner

By : and |January 31, 2013 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: Change is something that is continuous, believes Infosys co-founder and executive co-chairman, Kris S. Gopalakrishnan.

Prod him on who he can think of instantaneously as an ‘agent of change’, and pat comes the reply: “Currently, Steve Jobs. In mobile revolution, Jobs and his company, Apple, played a very important role.”

As for the possible change of fortune for the Indian IT industry, which has been bearing the brunt of the sluggish global economic outlook, especially in the U.S. and Europe, over the last few quarters, Gopalakrishnan says that the mood is positive now.

“When I went to Davos for the World Economic Forum (Forum), most CEOs felt that big uncertainties in Europe, U.S. elections, and growth slowdown in China and India are well behind us, in a sense. Now that Obama is re-elected and no uncertainty about Europe staying together, besides India and China expecting to pick up growth, sense of optimism is higher,” he articulates, in an exclusive conversation with CIOL, upon his arrival from the summit.

As a result, Gopalakrishnan foresees a revival of sorts in the Indian IT sector’s fortunes. “Once the growth is back, the current trend of companies going slow on recruitments and on-boarding of employees will reverse. We just have to wait till April for the forecast of fiscal 2014 growth; it will be a good indicator of what lies ahead.”

He asserts this at a juncture, when there are talks on how robots might replace humans at work across verticals. “Automation is a big factor in increasing productivity and bringing down workforce, but jobs will evolve and new sectors will come in. If growth comes back to the industry, more jobs will be created. About 50 years ago, there was no IT jobs, but now in India alone, it is generating about 2.5 million jobs,” explains Gopalakrishnan.

Green economy and related sectors, for instance, will generate a lot of opportunities, in spite of creative destruction continuing to happen, he says. But for that to happen, he iterates that we have to continuously invest in making our educational system better, as pure tech is expected to drive the country’s growth irrespective of the global economic outlook in future.

Commenting on the social media wave that is sweeping through the nation, following the arrests of individuals over their tweets or Facebook comments, Gopalakrishnan views it as an indicator of change, something along the lines of what happened during the Arab Spring in Egypt. “We will have to come to a new equilibrium in case of (protecting) individual freedom. Unprecedented access and the ability to get message across simply is in the hands of individuals and unlike traditional media, there is no editorial review here.”

So, he suggests that there should be corporate governance, which, he hopes, would evolve in future. “The government has always controlled. It is expected to maintain law & order and prevent crimes. These days, national boundaries don’t matter.”

But the pertinent question is about where one draws the line, stresses Gopalakrishnan. “We are witnessing what is happening in (actor) Kamal Haasan’s case. We have to come up with a new set of regulations, rules and policies to safeguard individual freedom of expression and it is important for discussions to happen in this regard,” he concludes.

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