Murthy's next innings: will Midas smile?

Murthy's next innings: will Midas smile?

After his reappointment to the Infosys board, Narayana Murthy made a curious reference to Sachin Tendulkar, saying that he is interested to learn how the cricketing legend continues to be “successful” between the ages of 35 and 40.

The reference, however, has led to an unwitting comparison of the two legends in their own spheres. For starters, Sachin is not exactly in roaring form as Murthy would like to have it, but has indeed been hanging precariously between an average performance and a swansong.

Like Sachin, Murthy brings to the Infosys table an enviable reputation built on an uncanny ability to strategise against all odds and a huge promise of performance. But, as the cricketing star has started to realise rather painfully, it is harder to match the reputation with meaningful change, which Mr Murthy would probably discover in the next few months.

The board brought him back to replace K V Kamath after hopes that the departing chairman would bring more business from the BFSI sector did not exactly materialise.

Also, the board lacked the kind of inspiration and infectious energy which Murthy manages to maintain for long periods of time.  With Murthy’s return, there is no missing all that hope permeating the air and the broad smiles all around not to talk of words like emotional connect, passion and value addition getting full flow.

Despite the positive noise, there is very little detail in terms of the strategic changes the company would go through in order to return to the growth path.  “I will collect data, see what has worked and not worked and then participate in discussions,” Murthy had said, giving very little indication about the substance of the growth strategy going ahead.
It was, however, clear that Murthy would focus on bagging the larger projects, which would mean that the co-founder will probably use his stature and business acumen in the industry to woo larger clients who are vital for the company’s performance both in the short and long run.

“He just happens to be a member of the team (from Catamaran venture capital firm) which I am bringing to Infosys,” Murthy said about his son Rohan Murthy’s new role in the company as his executive assistant. But it is more than obvious that Rohan has the necessary goods to play a major role in the company’s fortunes.

For now, Rohan and Infosys have the same job cut out for them -- stand on the shoulders of a giant as they prepare for the next phase of their growth. The question is whether Murthy, who, like Sachin has his age to consider, can perform a miracle much the same way as he did by transforming a $250 venture into a global leader in the tougher economic and business conditions of the eighties.