Home / Companies / People /  Cognizant's refined strategic focus on digital imperatives is paying dividends: CEO Brian Humphries

BENGALURU : Since taking charge on 1 April, 2019, Brian Humphries, CEO, Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp., has just completed nine months in the hot seat and will now be expected to deliver results on some of his initiatives especially the ones relating to organisational restructuring. In an email interview, Humphries talks about the strategies, demand environment and the India market. Edited excerpts:

What were the key drivers for the revenue growth in the December quarter?

Our revenue outperformance versus guidance was broad-based across industries. North America momentum continues to improve. Our refined strategic focus on digital imperatives is paying dividends, with digital growth above 20%. We are squarely focused on helping our clients be successful.

As this also marks the full fiscal for you, what were some of the strategies that went well for you and what could you have done better?

I am so energised in the knowledge that we are making great progress. I inherited a challenging Q1 2019, but we went back to basics and are now seeing higher levels of engagement from our leaders, and optimism throughout the organisation as we rally behind a return to client-centricity and revenue growth. We enter 2020 with a two-pronged strategy: protect and optimise our core business, including scaling our international business, and win in key digital battlegrounds ― data, digital engineering, cloud, and IoT (Internet of Things). We are executing against this strategy, both with organic investments as well as targeted M&As. In fact, we just announced two deals this week aligned to our cloud business. Our strategy resonates with clients, attrition rates have fallen by three points sequentially, and we we’re getting our swagger back.

How has your digital business grown and what’s your strategy?

Digital revenue continues to grow above 20% year-over-year and represented approximately 38% of total revenue for the quarter. Our clients continue to invest in digital to become modern, data-enabled, customer-centric and differentiated businesses. Our strategy is focused on winning in select digital battlegrounds, further strengthening our relationships with key digital partners and buttressing our capabilities in digital via targeted M&As.

Last quarter, you announced plans to redeploy about 5,000 out of the 10,000-12,000 employees who were being laid off. What’s the update?

It is underway. To ensure we have the right digital skills in a supply-constrained environment, we have doubled our investment in Cognizant Academy in 2020. This will enable us to reskill and redeploy our people towards our digital imperatives. To accelerate our digital momentum, we believe we need to hire or reskill approximately 25,000 resources in 2020, and we have started to operationalise this.

How do you see the spending from the BFSI and retail sectors in your key markets?

We have seen continued strength in retail and improvements in banking in North America. In general, our strategy resonates well with our clients, who have always valued our strength in run-and-operations, but want us to further strengthen our digital portfolio to assist them in their innovation agenda. We are also investing in our business, by adding 500 revenue generating resources.

Are you sharpening your focus on the India market this year?

India is a high-growth, attractive market for Cognizant. Not only do we have over 200,000 associates in India, but we also see a commercial opportunity for Cognizant. Here we can leverage our tremendous local talent and capabilities. There is a palpable initiative among Indian enterprises to attain and in some cases even define global benchmarks in digital adoption. They are increasingly focusing on the imperative to ‘think fast’ and ‘think forward’ in order to strengthen their relevance for the future. We have built a very strong position in India as a market with our digital solutions, as well as end-to-end transformational engagements in industry sectors such as financial services, insurance, retail, life sciences, manufacturing and education. We currently have approximately 80 clients in India across these industries.

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