HCL: How the Indian outsourcer is giving itself a business makeover

Summary:New Directions in Delhi...

...key, Nayar tells journalists after the Directions event. "When you're running a company with 70,000 people, you have to make them aware of where you're going," adding that over the coming months staff will find out more about the direction the company is taking, and "find opportunities within the customer base where they can experiment with that".

Where experiments work, the lessons will be shared with the rest of HCL, encouraging a cycle that the company hopes will help it shed that IT image.

At Directions, staff are encouraged to share experiences of all stripes - and share they do. One worker takes the mic to tell his CEO that the company works too much in silos and that more consolidation is needed. Nayar agrees, complementing him: "You were inspired to stand up. The more people do this, the more company will change."

Not all workers receive such a response. When another stands up to complain about not working in the area of business he wants to, saying he wants to be moved to another unit, Nayar tells him bluntly he has to prove himself worthy - impress with the projects he's working on - before the company will think about moving him.

Yet another stands up to ask the boss to define the top problems facing HCL. Nayar's response is that the company finds winning contracts "too easy". Rather than landing deals through the promise of innovation, they're hooking new clients simply because "our competitors are not delivering huge amounts of value".

This idea of innovation and its redemptive power is Nayar's touchstone for the future of the company. Under his stewardship, HCL now spends six per cent of its revenue on R&D - and he leaves his workers with Apple as their aspirational model.

Having built something of a reputation for innovation, Apple is now known for its legions of devoted followers who will gladly queue for the next piece of kit.

"First you have to be loved for innovation. Once you've done that, nobody can catch you," he tells them.

Topics: Tech Industry


Jo Best has been covering IT for the best part of a decade for publications including silicon.com, Guardian Government Computing and ZDNet in both London and Sydney.

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