Bangalore: Software Engineering and Technology Labs (SET Labs), the research arm of Infosys Technologies Ltd, India’s second-largest computer services firm by revenue, says it has helped the firm improve productivity by as much as 10% in some areas through software tools. The labs, set up eight years ago, sees opportunity in building solutions “in the intersection of IT’ in areas such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, Subu Goparaju, vice president and head of SET Labs, says in an interview. Edited excerpts:
How has SET Labs helped Infosys improve to serve its customers?
The initial focus was on using the right framework, methodology, and internal software engineering and ensure in improving quality and productivity and doing everything right. As part of the non-linear growth of Infosys, how do we create significant IP and commercialise and monetise that? We actually have several initiatives in areas such as convergence, knowledge engineering and grid computing that create intellectual property. The next thing is being a partner in co-creation and innovation for clients. Today, given the company’s size and kind of services and solutions we offer, we have clearly become a trusted advisor and the expectations from clients are how do we help them in innovation.
So, you run ideas with clients, build systems jointly and find solutions?
What we are innovating may be different in different industries and in different client situations. Sometimes the focus of the client may be in operational efficiencies; sometimes it would be new products and solutions.
In the current crisis, do you see an increase in customers wanting to find solutions for more urgent problems?
It is not restricted to the current crisis. While the projects are going on, looking at emerging technologies, using the technologies and benefiting the clients. For example when you are in a growth phase, the focus is on how do we exploit emerging technologies for new products that are focused on clients. In situations as these, the focus is on how do I exploit these technologies for improving our efficiencies.
By how much can productivity and efficiency be improved?
We are an applied research group and majority of what we do goes into internal efficiencies – software engineering efficiency. We created IP assets -- lot of those things are used in projects and we are able to do clearly right things at the first time. We measure that by different products – Mantra, it is maintainence platform, where productivity improvement is 8-10%, some times even more. Similarly with Radiant and Influx. We have clearly seen productivity improvements mainly in the way we do things
The biggest advantage for clients is that doing projects within budgets and in schedule and clients value that a lot. (Mantra, Radiant and Influx are software tools that help simplify processes and boost productivity and quality).
How do you do that?
First of all, the needs of the system are captured completely. If you don’t do that well, everything goes off the tangent. How do we estimate the time and budget and set the expectations clearly?. The benchmark data clearly shows that projects beyond a certain size -- almost 75-80% of them -- are not completed within budgets and time. That is anything beyond about 50-60-person-years kind of effort... Basically (it is due to) not capturing business needs accurately and completely and not (being) able to create a system architecture that translates those things into the system.
What are the medium and long-term projects you are working on?
For us, to benefit from a project in a medium term it is 12-18 months and beyond that is long term. Some of the projects are convergence research group, knowledge learning and grid computing, there are mix of projects that go beyond 18 months. Grid computing lab we started more than three years ago, not that anybody was asking for things around that. We believed that in terms of improving internal efficiencies as well as new opportunities, it would be an important to look at. Today, virtualisation has become a big thing, we are looking at it. We are seeing good amount of traction in our clients wanting to use IP that we have.