Global information technology services provider Infosys has announced the selection of Dr. Vishal Sikka as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director (CEO & MD) of the company. According to the announcement, Dr. Sikka will be inducted as a whole-time director of the Board and CEO & MD (Designate) on June 14, 2014. He will take over as CEO & MD from Mr. S. D. Shibulal on August 1, 2014.

Sikka until recently served as a high visibility executive at SAP AG serving as a member of the Executive Board and Chief Technology Officer (CTO). He suddenly resigned that position in early May.  At SAP, he was responsible for all products, from traditional and cloud-based applications to technology and platform products including SAP HANA, analytics, mobile and middleware. Many rumors abounded from Sikka’s departure from SAP.

Sikka is the very first outsider and non-founder ever appointed to the CEO leadership position and his tenure will no doubt involve lots of scrutiny by business, technology and social media circles. Media outlets in India indicate that Sikka will continue to have his family reside in Northern California but will make frequent visits to Infosys facilities in India including the firm’s corporate headquarters campus.

In conjunction with this latest announcement, the Infosys Board made other important announcements that indicate a rather significant new operating leadership structure for the firm. Mr. U.B. Pravin Rao, President and whole-time director, was appointed Chief Operating Officer, effective June 14, 2014, no doubt to manage day-to-day activities. Twelve existing executives were appointed to Executive Vice President role’s with additional responsibilities.

Infosys co-founder Mr. N.R. Narayana Murthy who recently returned to lead the firm and has driven wholesale changes in senior leadership of the firm, will voluntarily step down as Executive Chairman on June 14, 2014. India based media further reports that Murthy’s son, Rohan, will also step down from leadership. Non-executive Vice Chairmen Mr. S. Gopalakrishnan will additionally step-down on June 14.  To insure a smooth transition, both Murthy and Gopalakrishnan will continue on the Infosys Board until October 10.

Infosys additionally announced Executive Chairman’s office will be dissolved. Dr. Rohan Murty, whose appointment was co-terminus with the Executive Chairman, will leave the company on June 14, 2014. The remaining members of the Chairman’s office will take up other responsibilities in the company.

Current CEO Mr. S. D. Shibulal will step down as CEO & MD and from the Board on July 31, 2014 after a very difficult tenure period including resignation of many high-level Infosys executives who might have been considered internal candidates for the CEO slot or were perceived as not meeting the firm’s operating objectives.  Early in this author’s career, I had the opportunity to work directly with “Shibul” while we were both part of Sun Microsystems’s internal IT team supporting after-market online customer fulfillment. I wish him well in his new chapter.

Supply Chain Matters has been very familiar with Infosys having the firm as a prior sponsor of this blog.  In addition, this author’s industry analyst presence has caused me to interact with many members of the Infosys executive team over prior past years. We came to notice a lack of cohesiveness across Infosys operating units, an indication of conflicting goals and objectives with a dilution of strong marketing and brand presence in areas of supply chain and customer fulfillment related technology services. Towards the end of our prior relationship, we found ourselves performing a lot of the heavy lifting related to services marketing messaging and supplementary thought leadership.  Our parting of ways was more of a mutual decision.

Much work remains particularly in areas of more cohesive strategy, building broader and deeper strategic partnerships with clients.  There is no doubt in our mind that Dr. Sikka’s technology strategy skills are impeccable, but his broader leadership skills will be challenged in providing vision and leadership for Infosys moving forward.  An important area to watch is whether a strong, capable, hands-on leader of global marketing will be brought on-board and supported.  By our lens, Infosys needs to represent its services in technology, vertical industry and business process enablement dimensions in more impactful dimensions.  Service areas related to online customer fulfillment, online commerce, manufacturing and value-chain enablement must have tighter linkages. Driving industry thought leadership needs to become more external, beyond certain academic arrangements.

In essence, this series of new leadership changes represents a new dawning for Infosys with opportunities for new vigor and market presence.  The opportunity remains to become a continued strategic partner among many industry settings including manufacturing, retail and online services.

We extend to all of the Infosys new executive leadership team and employees our best wishes for this new era of leadership.

Bob Ferrari