How Cognizant sees the future of offshoring

"We are living through an age of the great decoupling..."


Cognizant's growth is reflected in the scale of its hiring activities: it recently recruited 1,820 engineers with bachelors and masters degrees from a single school, the Vellore Institute of Technology, near ChennaiPhoto: Saritha Rai/

...Dubai, Singapore, Manila and in the US. Each year, we go out and hire a few hundred MBAs from Indian business schools. We find the rigour of business schools in India unmatched, as are the energy levels, passion and knowledge of graduates.

Chandra Sekaran, Cognizant's president and managing director, global delivery, on the future

Q: What does innovation mean at Cognizant?
A: Innovation is in the thinking and mindset of all employees. Being innovative with customers is one thing, but being innovative in our personal management is quite another.

Cognizant's Chandra Sekaran: We want 10 per cent of our headcount to be outside India by 2020

Cognizant's Chandra Sekaran: We want 10 per cent of our staff to be outside India by 2020Photo: Saritha Rai/

We have a corporate innovation group that measures our per-capita innovation and attributes a dollar value to it every quarter. We have an annual competition in workshop format and choose the best innovation cases within the organisation.

In keeping with Cognizant's entrepreneurial bent, employee teams are encouraged to come up with new business ideas. For one of our BPO customers for whom we do claims processing, we found that manual digitising the PDF data into Excel worksheets was time-consuming since it involved millions of documents.

We worked with Chennai's best technology school, the Indian Institute of Technology, and created a technology that automated the process. That improved productivity several hundred fold.

Can you give an example of innovation at Cognizant?
Cognizant 2.0 has revolutionised the way we think about our business. It started as a knowledge management platform but has become a distributed knowledge management and networking system. It has paved the way for a social way of working within an organisation where people collaborate and exchange information both formally and informally.

It has created a community within an organisation. C2 [knowledge and project management platform] has turned into a project execution platform. It is being used by training, support functions. Our employees are addicted to C2, there is a sense of belonging.

The challenges for Cognizant are many. First, we want to be a truly global company that delivers globally. We want 10 per cent of our headcount to be outside India by 2020. We want to be a lot more global in our mindset and thinking. We can and should improve.

What are the challenges?
For every $1bn increase in revenue, we have added about 60,000 people. We want to delink the task from the numbers.