HCL CEO: Define a Unique Path

From the Road

Conventional wisdom says customers come first. But Vineet Nayar, CEO of Indian outsourcing giant HCL, wrote a book about his philosophy of putting the “employee first, customer second” as the key to growth. Nayar shared with me his unconventional ideas, taking shots at the fear created by services firms who hype their offerings and dismissing public cloud computing as not ready for prime time. We also talked about HCL’s aggressive plans for hiring locally in the U.S. and Europe.

Be Accountable To Customers

Nayar’s “employees first” philosophy aims to make management accountable for delivering value to customers, rather than focusing on profits. “The customer sees the unique set of employees, who are highly energized, highly enabled, highly intuitive, and have access to all knowledge within the company, and therefore can create a higher value,” Nayar said. “We believe that by aligning more with the customer, the company will automatically gain. If you look at our growth trajectory, we are growing at a much faster rate than the industry average.”

Don’t Engage In Hype

Hype scares customers into buying new technologies because they’re afraid of getting left behind, not because they see the value. Consider cloud computing, Nayar said. There’s not much to gain in the public cloud for Global 500 companies. “You can virtualize your own data center,” he said. “IBM tried on-demand for many, many years, so the concept is nothing new….there is nothing innovative in the technology so far.” Instead, HCL works with customers to convert their data centers to private clouds.

Make A Statement

HCL’s IT services aren’t the only way the company can distinguish itself. It’s also making an effort to hire more workers in the United States and Europe. Customers want their vendors to be socially responsible. If “you’re not in the business of creating jobs in the community, the customer base is not going to do business with you,” he said. HCL is investing in automation and in ITIL management processes to reduce costs, so hiring locally won’t cost a lot more than doing the work in India. It’s also working with local colleges to help engineers train and developing a new business model. “That will be a competitive differentiator for HCL,” Nayar said.

Insiders, read the complete interview with Vineet Nayar. Not an Insider? Register here.

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