Infosys, India’s second-largest IT services exporter, has narrowed the gulf with its rival Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in certain growth parameters like organic growth and operating profit margins in the just concluded September quarter, setting the stage for an interesting battle between the two Indian IT majors.
TCS has been consistently maintaining a definite lead over Infosys in all the key metrics like revenue, profit, OPM, attrition rates and there were no signs of any closure of the gap between the two in the past many quarters. However, at the end of second quarter of FY15 the revenue growth reported by Infosys was 3.1% while it stood at 3.6% for TCS, without taking into account the inorganic revenue from the buyout of its stake in its venture with Mitsubishi. In the same vein, the gap between the two in terms of operating profit margins (OPMs) closed down to just 0.7% when compared to 1.2% in the preceding sequential quarter.
The surprising aspect in this quarter was the differing performance by Infosys and TCS with regard to market expectations. Infosys, which positively surprised the markets with its second-quarter performance, also received the boost with the presence of new CEO, Vishal Sikka, who is also the first non-founder to head the company providing an indication of the way forward for the company. As BNP Paribas, a brokerage house in its note following the results, said, “The new CEO’s strategy is aimed at transforming Infosys into a ‘next-generation’ services company, more details of which are due by April 2015. Infosys believes a successful shift could mean revenue growth of 15-18% and an EBIT margin of 25-28% in the long term, which are significantly higher than current levels. “
Sikka during investors calls post the results spoke about the increasing use of automation, artificial intelligence by Infosys while bringing new paradigm in terms of design thinking and reskilling of their employees. There are enough strong indications that Infosys would be able to achieve its revenue growth guidance of 7-9% for FY15.
However, it would be a long haul for Infosys to match up with TCS, as the latter over the last two years has consistently maintained a very steady growth rate outperforming the industry benchmark. Today, the revenue gap between Infosys and TCS for the second quarter of FY15 stood at $1.7 billion while the net profit difference being $361 million. At one point of time though Infosys had lower revenue than TCS, its OPMs and profit were much higher.
Industry observers say that TCS has set the pace for others in the Indian IT industry. Pradeep Mukherji, president, Avasant, an IT outsourcing advisory firm, said, “TCS is one of the most robust companies in terms of their depth in leadership, range of offerings and the extent of geographic reach. Their DNA is completely different.”