The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in India with cases mounting and healthcare infrastructure crumbling.
Amid these uncertain times, Sanjay Jalona, CEO of L&T Infotech, spoke to Moneycontrol about the company's plans to tackle challenges with respect to the second wave, the impact on hiring and deliverables, and growth.
The company reported its fourth quarter and FY21 results on May 4. The company's Q4 and FY21 net profit rose nearly 28 percent each to Rs 545.7 crore and Rs 1,938.2 crore, respectively.
With the second wave impact more employees are affected than the first, what are the second wave specific challenges you are seeing and how are tackling them?
For the challenges that we see typically in our business, we plan for location-specific Business Continuity Plans (BCP). So if Mumbai goes down, you go to Pune or Chennai. Now we are planning project-based BCP because there are a number of people who are impacted by COVID, and some number of people who have some family members impacted by COVID, which is making them go on leave.
Onsite and offshore issues are also important because you have to have the ability to support (clients). We have been driving offshoring in a very strong way (till recently). We are now going slow on that, simply because otherwise it will impact the ability to support our customer.
We also are going to invest in localisation (of workforces) in times to come because we need to increase that number. So that we don't put the country at risk.
(For) All our Service Level Agreements (SLA) commitments…I write to our customers every six weeks. So much of empathy and support that we have received, it's been phenomenal. Everyone's saying you, you first focus on your employees. Everything is fine.
You have already been investing in localisation. Can you elaborate more when you say that you will invest in times to come?
We need to strengthen localisation further because of the nature of the business, and demand. More local people need to be hired to support the business growth in the geographies we operate in. So we will do it in North America and Europe. Those are geographies that we operate bulk of our business. We are localizing in the Middle East as well.
Is the second wave impacting your hiring plans?
Not yet. We have not seen any delays. If people are healthy, there's no reason for them not to join. But I'm not aware of any significant drop out in numbers because of COVID.
What are your thoughts on work from home? Any specific future of the work model you are looking at?
I don't expect any employees to be brought back till December 2021 for sure. And we will evaluate it if we need to extend it further.
This is not the time for us to plan for people to come to work. Right now our entire focus is making sure that employees are safe. We are seeing great productivity when they are operating from home.
When it comes to the future of work, we have seen two or three different locations where a lot of employees go back to their hometowns – Coimbatore and Nagpur. We would look at even more. There is absolutely nothing that will not be evaluated in times to come.
A year after the pandemic, how has COVID-19 changed the business landscape for L&T Infotech?
Every industry is different. Retailers, restaurants and insurance companies are operating differently. You have to have the online ability. No one is walking into a bank. So fundamentally COVID led to a restructuring of it.
That is what has given the opportunity for LTI and all tech businesses. I think that's the big change. Top priorities for businesses are – one, to operate in a distributed environment, and distributed consumer and customers. Two, priority for them is to use digital channels to change their operating model.
To deal with the new operating model… tech has become very important. Whether it is a hundred billion dollar retailer or $10 million, both have to have the ability to order online. Otherwise, neither will exist. That's the nature of change that we are seeing in our businesses.
That's why you're seeing the growth. Pipeline and open positions are very strong. The conversations that we are doing with customers are robust. We also announced two large deals and opened two Fortune 500 customers in this quarter. That is what is giving us confidence in times to come.