Bangalore: International Business Machines Corp. ( IBM ), the world’s biggest computer services company, named Vanitha Narayanan as the new managing director of its Indian operations on Thursday, making it the second large multinational technology firm to name a woman leader in the country in recent times. Chip maker Intel Corp. appointed Kumud Srinivasan as president of its operations in India in October. Hewlett-Packard Co.’s ( HP ’s) Indian operations are headed by Neelam Dhawan , who joined the firm in 2008.
Narayanan takes over from Shanker Annaswamy, IBM’s longest serving head of the Indian operations, who took over in 2004 and led it to more than $2 billion (nearly Rs. 11,000 crore) in local revenue with a 165,000-strong workforce in the country that helps it compete with rivals Accenture Plc and HP.
In January 2012, IBM announced Ginni Rometty as the first woman to head the firm.
Narayanan, IBM’s first woman head of its Indian operations, takes over at a time when the biggest challenge is to ensure that the company starts winning large outsourcing contracts again and also fends off rivals such as Accenture and Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS).
India’s biggest software exporter TCS has already started winning fresh outsourcing business from Tata group companies earlier with IBM. In October, TCS won a contract worth $385 million from Tata Motors Ltd and Jaguar Land Rover—an indication that it’s beginning to win back contracts from Tata group companies that it had lost to IBM.
Annaswamy will continue to remain in IBM as senior adviser on India enterprise, the company said in a statement on Thursday evening. Both of them will report to Jim Bramante, senior vice-president of IBM growth markets unit.
As reported by Mint in November, IBM India now employs more people than in the US, where it has less than 100,000 staff on the payroll.
From less than 10,000 people in 2002, IBM’s India operations now account for nearly $3 billion in revenue (including exports). This includes revenue from serving local customers such as Bharti Airtel Ltd and Tata Steel Ltd. IBM’s 2011 revenue was $106.91 billion with a global staff strength of 433,362.
Experts tracking IBM’s India operations said it faces increased rivalry from Accenture and Capgemini, apart from Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd, as Narayanan takes over.
“Over the past one year, there has been no major, big deal won by IBM. The competition from Accenture, which now has clients such as UB Group, is more intense than ever,” said an expert who advises Indian enterprises on their outsourcing strategy, who didn’t want to be identified.
Government organizations and enterprises in India are expected to spend $66.4 billion on information technology (IT) for year ended March 2013, according to research firm Gartner Inc. Of this, $9.2 billion will be spent on IT services alone, setting up a battleground for new outsourcing contracts.
Narayanan, who worked as managing partner for the company’s global business services unit until her promotion, will be responsible for all of IBM’s sales, marketing, services and global delivery operations in the India/South Asia region, including Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka, the company said in a statement.