Knowledge Institute Podcasts
The Infosys Innovation Network: Adding Startup Innovation to Our DNA with Rajeev Nayar
Rajeev Nayar, Vice President, CTO Data Analytics at Infosys discusses startup partnerships and explains how Infosys evaluates startups and which value they provide to the business and its customers.
Hosted by Jeff Kavanaugh, VP and Head of the Infosys Knowledge Institute.
“We need companies that are working at the cutting edge. That are bringing new ideas to the table and are trying to look at the world differently.”
“So we bring this perspective of being able to take the startup and fit them into an overall solution, which becomes much more valuable for our customers.”
“Startups can look at working with Infosys, not just as working with the service provider, but working with a partner that is trying to help them succeed.”
- Rajeev Nayar
- Infosys Data Analytics practice is almost a billion dollar practice right now.
- The practice largely operates in the areas of the data engineering and analytics space where it's about scale of operations.
- Infosys works across multiple customers and is able to see the trends. When these trends are implemented this leads into customers’ innovation cycles.
- At any point in time Infosys works with about 15 and 20 startups on a very active basis.
- Startups that Infosys works with fall into three different categories. First category is about scaling the operations. Second category is about doing proofs of concepts with customers. Third category is about exploring new ideas.
- Infosys looks at startups that can help in the areas of AI and that can actually bring the data cognitive and AI capabilities together to make a difference in terms of delivering business value.
- Infosys allows startups to participate, become part of its solution so that startups become a natural part of Infosys’ sales process. This increases the number of customers that startups go to. Startups can look at working with Infosys, not just as working with the service provider, but working with a partner that is trying to help them succeed.
- Startups bring this unique view on the world and unique solution to the table. When Infosys sees the value they do invest in these startups to help them grow and create a joint success criteria.
- Partnership is key. What we need to understand is that being a very capable and an absolutely fantastic startup is one part of the puzzle. Maybe it is the last part of the puzzle, but it is just one part of the puzzle. And then we actually are on a day-to-day basis putting these puzzles together.
- There are three key points. One is what does the industry is talking about. The second is the business direction that you are taking and where are some of the players that can help you with your direction? And third is what are the problems that you're facing today?
Jeff introduces himself and Rajeev
Rajeev talks about his role and his practice at Infosys
Can you describe why startup collaboration? Why is it important to pull startups into the mix?
You mentioned a lot of startups. How many do you work with now? And what's the value that they provide?
How do you evaluate a startup? Let's say, you've got this idea, or you have this need without going into the proprietary details. What are the criteria you use to evaluate a startup?
How do you align your and your client, your client's part time horizon with the needs of a startup?
For that startup founder out there. What are some specifics that they can think about to partner with an orchestrator, like an Infosys or a large entity? What can they do?
How do you differentiate this, this offering or this service you've just described from that Y Combinator traditional incubator of Silicon valley?
Great, as we wrap what do you recommend for people to learn more?
How can people find you?
Jeff Kavanaugh: Welcome to the knowledge Institute podcast, where we discuss the global startup ecosystem with experts, deconstruct their ideas and share their insights. I'm Jeff Kavanaugh, head of the Infosys Knowledge Institute. And today we're here with Rajeev Nayar, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Infosys, data and analytics also known as DNA. Rajeev, thanks for joining us.
Rajeev Nayar: Thank you, Jeff. Thank you for having me.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Rajeev you've been vital to the strategy and the development of the data and analytics practice and unit with Infosys in its work with startups. Tell us more about your role in leading this vital practice.
Rajeev Nayar: So data analytics practice at Infosys is almost a billion dollar practice right now. And as Infosys we do, we do a lot more than that. But that the focus has been to look at where this data space is going. And as we all know, the data space has been evolving quite rapidly and changing dramatically and moving towards AI and cognitive and using that intelligence to drive business.
Jeff Kavanaugh: I like to take a particular angle on this, given this topic is about startups and the ecosystem. Can you describe why startup collaboration and you're working with large companies? Why is it important to pull startups into the mix?
Rajeev Nayar: As we work with our customers, we work with them at different stages. There are more mature sort of areas that we operate in, which is largely in the data engineering and analytics space where it's about scale of operations. There are others where we are involved with the innovations of the customer. So we bring ideas that we are able to see because we work across multiple customers and we are able to see the trends. We bring some of these ideas to our customers and the customers want to then work with us not just in terms of an implementation in many cases, actually this leads into their innovation cycles.
Rajeev Nayar: We need companies that are working at the cutting edge that are bringing new ideas to the table at trying to look at the world differently for us to be able to formulate solutions. And that's where, that's where a lot of this innovation ecosystem comes into the picture, whether it is from the universities, whether we work with much smaller groups of people. In fact, some of them forming startups, some of them established startups and the other cases startups that are getting ready to scale.
Jeff Kavanaugh: You mentioned a lot of startups. How many do you work with now? And what's the value that they provide?
Rajeev Nayar: At any point in time, we about I would say between 15 and 20 startups, what we work with on a very active basis. They fall into three different categories. There's the first category, which is you know, where companies like snowflake fall into. That is about scaling the operations. Being able to figure out what we need to do with them. We are constantly working with them. And then we are, we are scaling our operations. There are others where we are actuallyleveraging them to do a proof of concepts with customers, or you know creating these minimum viable products with customers that are on the way towards becoming a complete solution for the customer. Then there's a third category where we are at the very edge where we are exploring ideas.
Jeff Kavanaugh: How do you evaluate a startup? Let's say, you've got this idea, or you have this need without going into the proprietary details. What are the criteria you use to evaluate a startup?
Rajeev Nayar: Can we digitize it in such a way that it becomes much easier for us to be able to access those resources and use those resources? The second is, can we digitize this whole AI led approaches and then going up to can we digitize entire business processes and business areas. So, so largely we look at startups that can help us in any of these areas that can actually bring the data cognitive and AI capabilities together to make a difference in terms of delivering business value.
Rajeev Nayar: So we work with startups in these areas the difference that we bring to the table is instead of many times, what happens is a startup is focused on solving specific problems. We are focused on solving the customer problems in a broader sense in how to make it work with their ecosystem. So we bring this perspective of being able to take the startup and fit them into an overall solution, which has becomes much more valuable for our customers. And that's really where we focus on how how do we draw up this lifecycle? How do we draw this landscape? And how does this startup make a difference in that landscape?
Jeff Kavanaugh: You know, as I look at startups and I've worked with a number of them in different capacities, one of the challenges to do what you say that you're doing with your practice is to align the horizons. You might think about this long relationship over time. They're thinking about the next quarter, the next round of funding. And can they get that marquee customer, not are they building this thing of yours? How do you align your and your client's part time horizon with the needs of a startup?
Rajeev Nayar: On one side it is about putting things together, along with the startup and taking them to our customers so that the startup sees value and they see that we are actually working with them in the context of a customer. And it is, they are motivated to actually work with us to participate in that effort.
Rajeev Nayar: We allow the startup to expand out and look at where they want to play. What I mean by that is, given the way we describe what something does, you may actually paint a much narrower picture of how they can participate as opposed to what they can actually do. We don't just give startups way to get to our customer base which will actually directly help them in their quarter to quarter sort of view that they need to have. We allowed them to participate, become part of our solution so that they become a natural part of our sales process, so that the number of customers that they go to actually significantly increases. And there is a possibility that we can together define markets, which are much larger for them. The third is as this relationship grows there is the investment side of this. Startups can look at with Infosys, not just as working with the service provider, but working with a partner that is trying to help them succeed. Obviously, we want to succeed in the process as well.
Jeff Kavanaugh: For that startup founder out there. What are some specifics that they can think about to partner with an orchestrator, like an Infosys or a large entity? What can they do?
Rajeev Nayar: Startups should actually look at this more as a journey than as a transactional construct of you know, what we can do over the quarter. That’s where success really lies because some of these startups have helped our thinking. And we have helped their thinking in terms of what can be done.
Rajeev Nayar: And that startups bring this unique view on the world and unique solution to the table. But that is not the whole story for a customer. It is just part of a story. So one is working with us, looking at us. One as a partner, looking at us in terms of how we can help them look at positioning their business, look at other places that we can take them to and how they can fit into the ecosystem, makes them much more scalable and allows them to grow effectively within Infosys. The other thing is when you look at it as a partnership, then we start helping each other. And one part of that is that is where we see the value we do invest in these startups to help them grow and create a joint success criteria.
Rajeev Nayar: So people need to think about it from that perspective. The other thing that the, where I'm trying to take this from a data analytics perspective is to create an on-ramp for startups.
Jeff Kavanaugh: How do you differentiate this offering, or this service you've just described from that Y Combinator traditional incubator of Silicon Valley?
Rajeev Nayar: Yeah. So think about what Y Combinator does. I mean, it asks you to come up with ideas, it funds the ideas, and then puts you in front of a whole bunch of their clients, right. Providing you an ecosystem in that sense, look at what we do. We actually solve customer problems. We know what the actual thing is. We can actually fit things into ecosystems. We are the people who can actually put the Lego puzzle together. Right. And what we need to understand is, you may be a very capable and an absolutely fantastic startup. But it is one part of the puzzle. Maybe the last part of the puzzle, but one part of the puzzle. And then we actually are on a day-to-day basis putting these puzzles together.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Great, as we wrap what do you recommend for people to learn more?
Rajeev Nayar: So think about it as three key points. One is what does the industry is talking about, which is through your VC funding and other things. The second is what does the business direction that you're taking in where are some of the players that can help you with those directions? And third is what are the problems that you're facing today? You know, things like the finances around cloud and other things that there are startups that can help you with. So these are the three things that I would use for the industry. There are a number of things. Internally, it's more of keeping track of what you do to try to make sure that you're addressing your business needs.
Jeff Kavanaugh: And of course they can always reach out to you or follow what you're doing at Infosys. How can people find you?
Rajeev Nayar: It's quite easy. I'm on LinkedIn Rajeev Nayar. I'm on Twitter as well, but there, because of the number of people over there, it's Nayar Rajeev. So I know you can reach out to me on my Infosys email, Rajeev_nayar@infosys.com.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Everyone, you can find details for what Rajeev just mentioned and everything else we discussed on our show notes and transcripts at infosys.com/iki in our podcast section. Rajeev, thank you very much for your time. And a very interesting thought provoking conversation.
Rajeev Nayar: Thank you, Jeff. Thanks for having me.
Jeff Kavanaugh: Everyone, you've been listening to the Knowledge Institute where we talk with experts from the global startup ecosystem, deconstruct main ideas and share their insights. Thanks to our producers Catherine Burdette, Christine Calhoun, and Dylan Cosper until next time, keep learning and keep sharing.
About Rajeev Nayar
CTO of Data & Analytics practice at Infosys
Rajeev has 20+ years of experience in the IT industry and is the CTO of Data & Analytics practice at Infosys. His focus is on developing autonomous systems, customer intelligence solutions, cognition, AI, smart and scalable data solutions. Rajeev, with his team, holds a few patents for cognitive engine – Digital Brain, Big Data processing engine – Big Data Edge and APPARE for automated pavement profile analysis.