Zero Distance: Nurturing audacious innovation in the enterprise

Why are so many of us in the technology field fascinated by startups?

We admire their agility and audacity. Unburdened by corporate boundaries of “the way we’ve always done it,” they push, challenge and disrupt. They understand and solve an important problem well —or perish.

But Infosys is no longer a startup, nor are most of our clients. How can we maintain that startup audacity and entrepreneurial drive across a very large enterprise?

Our answer is Zero Distance: a ground-up, grassroots approach to ensure that every developer, project manager, analyst and architect is at “Zero Distance” – to the end user, to the underlying technology and therefore to the value. Whether working side by side with the customer’s customer or thousands of miles away, each of us must close the psychological distance and become personally invested and empowered to find the right problems and even better solutions.

That’s not an easy brief, but Zero Distance provides the framework to create this mindset, and the leadership support to enable that ownership.

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It starts with design thinking

Infosys’ embrace of design thinking (nearly 100,000 Infoscions trained so far and counting) has proven a strong foundation for Zero Distance. It helps us use empathy to channel the user – the client, the client’s customer or even that customer’s customer – as the point of inspiration for innovation.

Design thinking is also helping build “creative confidence,” empowering our people to look beyond the stated challenge to uncover hidden or unarticulated problems. That is a great leap for engineers who were traditionally trained to solve a given problem.

Thus, a client workshop began with the challenge of the demonization of chocolate (true story!). Although Infosys has yet to produce a “demonization of chocolate” app, the discussion progressed to getting better, faster revenue-generating insights. Within weeks, it had become a big data solution that is helping Hershey’s keep its retailers fully stocked with the right chocolate at the right time. Essentially, the distance - between Infosys, our client manufacturer, its retail and distribution network, and a convenience store shopper with the munchies - has Zeroed.

Services companies have always focused on delivering on client expectations – giving them the comfort that their projects would be delivered predictably: on time, on budget, on spec and so on. Predictability is still table stakes in our industry, but it’s not enough. Through Zero Distance, our people are now looking for thoughtful improvements that deliver additional value to the client, and to Infosys, without waiting to be asked. They are bringing these ideas to clients directly, trusting that their Proofs of Concept will show that they mean business, and innovation.

There are more specifics about how we practice Zero Distance across some 8,000 client engagements, but the most powerful explanations come from our clients who describe the impact on their organizations.


Arizona Public Services

An electric utility serving the state of Arizona

Client impact

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Through our partnership with Infosys and with this Zero Distance Initiative, we were able to solve this complex problem that the utility’s been facing for some time... Beyond the millions of dollars that we're going to be saving here at APS, the benefit is truly with our end customers in having a system that's going to be flexible and nimble and meet all of their needs.Close Quote



Infosys and APS jointly developed a parallel sustainability program to independently and automatically test a new product release without impacting the current product. This enabled the customer to save millions and accelerate to market.

Zero Distance in the Media

Infosys Innovation Is A Grassroots Movement

– Forbes

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We started hoping to mine our 8,000+ current client projects for innovation,” said Ravi Kumar S., EVP & Chief Delivery Officer for Infosys, a leading tech consulting and IT services firm. “After looking at 4 or 5, we got excited because we’d found numerous ways to improve client outcomes,” he continued. “Also, we realized it would take a decade to review the rest of them.Close Quote

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Zero Distance Perspectives

Our Potential

One of my extraordinary early findings was the lack of initiative, lack of proactivity in the services industry. Not only at Infosys, but everywhere… So I, along with a few key colleagues, worked with a handful of projects for a few weeks.... And the result was a simple five point pattern that could bring immediate as well as fundamental improvement to any of our projects. Then we rolled this template out to a 1000 projects and their leadership, and a few weeks later, to all our projects…. This ZD initiative has become something of a movement.

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