Narayana Murthy: Father of Indian Information Technology

Progress is often equal to the difference between the mind and mindset.Narayana Murthy, the father of Indian information technology, founder of Infosys, one of the biggest IT companies in India, or as he fondly calls “his middle child”. It wasn’t an easy road for Murthy, who hails from a poor Kannada family.

However his poverty did not disable Murthy from setting up an $8.2 billion IT empire, which boasts of around 160,000 employers and is present in 30 countries.

Reserving the traditions and practises of the company is one of the prime traits of Infosys. Once, in 1995, it so happened that a customer brought together all of their Indian software vendors, held up in different rooms. The customer had a reputation of holding tough, aggressive negotiations by getting the best terms out of each vendor and then pitting one vendor against another. Despite the Infosys team arguing on why a fair price was in the customer’s interest (offering arguments like investment in good people, R&D, infrastructure, technology & training), the customer refused to budge.

Trade-off between the company ideals and customer expectations

The customer, on the last day offered them two choices – to accept their terms without question or to end the contract. Two constraints lay ahead of Infosys – the customer contributed towards 25% of their revenues; and their revenues were just $5 million at the time.

Yet, Murthy took a decision to end the contract.

He put forward that the interests of Infosys were always at priority when they made any decisions, and he was not willing to compromise on that. However, he would help them get a vendor who would gladly accept their terms. Murthy and his team realised that relying on one big customer for their revenues was too much of a risk, and decided to de-risk, by creating a Risk Mitigation Council.

Action Summary:

  • Never compromise on your ideals, especially under pressure.

  • One must never, in Murthy’s words, “depend too much on any one client, technology, country, application area or key employee”. One must spread their risk in multiple sources, to achieve best results, not just in business, but in life as well.

~ Atrija Gaur