Infy to cut bench strength, increase automation

Employees walk along a corridor in the Infosys campus in the southern Indian city of Bangalore
Infosys was aggressively pushing automation that would see a reduction in its strength of reserved employees, its chief executive & managing director Vishal Sikka said on Monday.

As a part of Sikka's strategy to keep employees motivated, Infosys last year launched the 'Zero Bench' initiative, an internal marketplace to provide people on the bench (people without assignments) short-term engagements in clients' and internal projects.

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"Despite being here (at Infosys) for 18 months, I can't still find an answer around the idea of a bench," said Sikka, a former technology head at German software maker SAP.

Infosys has a target of $20 billion revenue by the year 2020 with an operating profit margin of 30 per cent and per employee revenue contribution of $80,000.

Addressing a conference organised by Kotak Institutional Equities in Mumbai, Sikka said the company would continue to drive the initiative. At the end of the December quarter, Infosys' staff utilisation was 80.6 per cent.

"At 81 per cent utilisation it means 9,000 people are sitting on the bench. This is more than the number of application developers I had at SAP. That's also more than the number of engineers at Facebook. So I said unless you guys are building a Facebook, this is a colossal waste of human potential," said Sikka.

Since launching the Zero Bench initiative in July last year, the number of employees who have taken up jobs posted on the internal marketplace has now crossed 10,300. At least 70 per cent of the people who were on the bench had now done at least one job through the portal, Sikka said.

The company is planning to give its clients access to this marketplace so that they can see the people who are on the bench and take advantage of that.

"This is one attempt to address the disintermediation that is going on," said Sikka. "And there is a deep human dimension to it as well as people on the bench actually hate being on it. Many of them are youngsters who come out of (our training institute in) Mysuru and they are raring to go when they go to the bench. Nobody wants them because they don't have experience," he added.

In order to achieve its vision 2020, Infosys has been aggressively embracing automation tools, technologies and platforms, apart from initiatives like 'Zero Distance'. Sikka said the initiative had helped release 1,100 people who had now been redeployed. The initiative covers all the 8,790 clients' projects that are under way.

"The shift to automation is inevitable. There is no doubt that it is going to happen. There is no doubt that it is already happening. It is not to make the horses run faster and faster, it is to turn the horse-cart into an automobile," he added.

  • As a part of Vision 2020, Infy is betting heavily on technologies like automation, artificial intelligence and innovation

  • In July 2015, company had launched 'Zero Bench' marketplace to use bench employees on productive assignments

  • Since then, 70% of the bench staff has worked on at least one project

  • Company now plans to give clients access to the marketplace

  • Company's 'Zero Distance' initiative to bring in innovation in delivery is active across all clients' projects

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