Amid Trump administration’s crackdown on firms abusing US’ visa system to hire foreign workers, Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka has refuted the general impression that the Indian IT industry is overly dependent on H-1B visas for its business.
Sikka also believes that the Indian IT companies need to grab the opportunities provided by new technologies like artificial intelligence in a big way to retain its global leadership edge in this fast changing infotech environment.
“It is wrong to say and to think that we are dependent on H-1Bs. For example, if you look over the last 10 years, there are about 65,000, something like that, H-1B visas granted every year. That means over 10 years it is 650,000. And we collectively employ millions of people. Infosys alone has 200,000 employees. TCS close to double that number and so on,” 50-year-old Sikka told PTI in an interview.
So, the assumption that Indian IT firms are dependent on H-1B visas is not correct, he said in response to a question on the charges that the business model of Indian IT companies is based on H-1B visas and major Indian IT firms like Infosys, Wipro and TCS are expected to be hit by the Trump administration’s crackdown on firms abusing the visa system.
In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to raise this issue with US President Donald Trump during his White House meeting next week.
During his wide ranging phone conversation from Palo Alto in California, Sikka acknowledged that in the last decade and a half, there was a lot of usage of the H-1B visas. “But, ultimately it has always been about delivering value,” he asserted.
“The Indian IT industry has delivered a tremendous amount of value, especially in the US. But the nature of that value delivery is changing dramatically,” he said.
Responding to another question, Sikka said since more and more of the work is now becoming automated, the Indian IT companies need to focus much more on the innovative areas, on the new areas, on the areas that are the frontier areas.
“Like artificial intelligence (AI), like machine learning, like internet of things (IoT) and you know, voice interfaces and chat interfaces, virtual reality, cyber security and these kinds of things,” he said.
“So, we have to bring in a deep focus on embracing automation and AI for that part of our world which is becoming automatised and becoming much more innovative in the new parts of our work. I think that is what the future is going to be all about,” Sikka said.
Indian IT companies, including his own Infosys, have embarked on this new path, he said. “I think that in general we are, the industry is still in the early stages and I’m very happy with what we are doing at Infosys,” he said.
With PTI inputs