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Infosys Innovation Centers: Localizing Innovation & Talent

Infosys is undergoing an internal transformation to become what it calls a Live Enterprise with the objective of accelerating its service delivery and adaptability to changing client needs. The core of Live Enterprise entails the expanded use of data and automation to support an evolving workforce. Infosys has introduced a number of tools and accelerators to orchestrate its services and facilitate these changes both internally and for clients, while in parallel, it has placed equal focus on transforming its workforce and workspaces.

In May 2017, Infosys announced plans to hire 10k American workers by the end of 2020 through the establishment of U.S. development centers/innovation hubs. And since then, Infosys has moved fast, opening five centers and announcing a sixth in Phoenix, Arizona. The centers (in Indianapolis, IN; Raleigh, NC; Hartford, CT; Providence, RI and Richardson, TX) are located outside the largest U.S. tech hubs (e.g. New York, Silicon Valley) in moderate cost states with strong educational institutions. And last month, Infosys says it achieved its 10k hiring target well ahead of schedule.

These facilities reflect growing demand for IT service vendors to have showcase facilities within their client’s geographies. For Infosys, these centers serve a dual function: providing a rural shore delivery option and acting as innovation hubs where Infosys can conduct collaborative sessions with clients. This does not change the offshore/onshore delivery mix of 70%/30% (publicly reported onshore-offshore effort mix has remained flat over the last year) but it changes the onshore delivery model from being totally on-site to 50% onsite/50% in local hubs (resulting in a 15%/15%/70% mix).

NelsonHall visited two of these locations, in Indianapolis and Raleigh, to gain a better understanding of how these centers fit into Infosys’ strategy, specifically:

  • Providing U.S. hubs to grow local service delivery talent while maintaining cost competitiveness and offsetting any visa restrictions
  • Bringing innovation thinking and delivery to client-proximate locations to extend the ability to collaborate directly with clients on shaping digital transformation initiatives.

Localized Talent

Having achieved its milestone of 10k hires, Infosys is continuing to hire locally. It is taking three paths to do so: lateral hires, new graduates, and rebadging of client employees.

To build a talent pipeline of new grads, Infosys is partnering with academia to develop curricula for relevant skillsets. For example, the Indianapolis innovation center is partnering with Purdue University to develop 8 to 12 week cybersecurity courses with the goal of producing 400 cybersecurity skilled resources by the end of the 2020 fiscal year. Infosys has similar programs with Trinity College, to develop business analysis skills for Liberal Arts majors; with North Carolina State, for building data science skills; and with Cornell for building IoT skills.

Once hired, Infosys is also localizing the initial training. Rather than initially sending all employees to its training center in Mysore, India, Infosys is partnering with Udacity to develop online courses that can augment centralized training for new hires. It is also looking to replicate its centralized training facility in the U.S., building a campus outside Indianapolis, to be opened by the end of 2020.

In addition to working with universities, Infosys is partnering with local community colleges, which it views as a relatively untapped resource, recognizing that a four-year degree isn’t necessarily required for every role. It is also an area in need of investment, as just 1% of total endowment dollars in the U.S. are for community colleges, despite ~45% of college students attending those colleges. The roles Infosys envisages being filled by community college graduates include CX and creative; BI and data support; BPM and helpdesk; network administration; and application support. Rather than a specific capability, the overall objective is to develop ‘Z-shaped skills’, where employees have the ability to learn one skill and then pivot to another skill area.

These initiatives are bearing fruit, attracting local clients as well as talent: for example, Infosys claims that the Indianapolis center is serving 50 local clients.

Localized Plus Globalized Innovation

These centers are acting as hubs in Infosys’ global innovation network and a sub-set of the innovation center houses Living Labs, facilities for direct client interactions, including collaborative brainstorming sessions, prototyping and showcases for innovations already built. These modular spaces can be adjusted to pod structures or open spaces for design thinking. They have 3-D printers and can house mock-ups of a client environment (e.g. a retail space or bank). The Living Lab teams focus solely on prototypes and non-production products rather than managing a product all the way through production. By leveraging this core group, Infosys is able to better industrialize the innovation process from idea to prototype.

For client collaboration, Infosys provides structured innovation models, including governance and templatized assets to help clients drive innovation through idea generation sessions. Infosys offers innovation sessions with clients as a value-add to broader engagements. It can also mirror its living lab set-ups at client sites. It has engaged in innovation programs with clients including a large aerospace manufacturer where the companies have jointly developed 40 PoCs with twelve of these going into production.

Infosys takes a dual approach to identify potential innovations to pursue: using Living Labs to jointly develop innovations with its client base and the Infosys Center for Emerging Technology Solutions (iCETS), an internal R&D function based in India focused on identifying applications of broader, longer-term technical advancements.  

iCETS identifies Horizon Three innovations where it should be investing. As an example, blockchain was identified as a key area for innovation exploration in 2017. Since then, Infosys has developed around 50 PoCs and use cases and conducted around 65 client workshops to explore how blockchain could be applied to their business problems. Infosys estimates its innovation function has to date produced around 25 IPs that it offers commercially.

The innovation practice across both internal R&D and client-facing Living Labs has around 500 employees globally, of whom around 400 are based in India and 50 in the U.S. This group can work with other internal groups as necessary for specific skill needs it may not possess. For example, the Living Labs team in the Providence Innovation Center worked with WongDoody, a design agency acquired by Infosys in 2018, to innovate with a Rhode Island bank on a Bank of the Future concept.

Infosys also has a $500m ventures fund for working with start-ups, and to date has invested in nearly 15 start-ups. Beyond financial support for start-ups, Infosys can provide scale to more quickly produce PoCs and can provide access to clients looking for specific emerging technologies.

Infosys has made a significant investment in its innovation center network, and the initiative is expanding from the U.S. hubs to other key markets, including Bucharest, Berlin, London and Romania.

Innovation centers have been a key focus area of investment for Infosys. Over the last two years, it has been able to achieve its local hiring targets while building broad relationships across government, education and industry in their chosen locations. These hubs are key to Infosys’ ongoing evolution, helping in local resourcing and client proximity, and in demonstrating capabilities as a technology and innovation thought leader, both critical attributes in positioning Infosys as a partner across the spectrum of digital transformation initiatives being pursued by its clients.

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