Mumbai-based Hexaware Technologies was acquired by private equity company Carlyle Group for $3 billion in October last year. Earlier this month, the company announced a new board and with that comes new growth strategies. In an interview, R. Srikrishna, the chief executive officer of the firm, discussed some of the company’s growth plans and the role emerging technologies like the metaverse, blockchain and more play in digital transformation. Edited excerpts:
Where is the company headed with the board reshuffle and how is being part of the Carlyle group working out in its favor?
The big focus is on enabling growth. We are expecting to grow revenue by more than 20% and add 10,000 employees worldwide in 2022. Our current headcount is 25,000. The fact that Carlyle is close to the market (US) where our clients are is also very helpful. Carlyle also has a portfolio of companies and can help us open new doors and close new deals. We are seeing incredibly high demand.
How is digital transformation in India different from that in other countries? What are the expansion plans in India?
Though we don't operate much in India, based on what we have seen, Indian enterprises have leapfrogged their global counterparts in terms of usage of technology. A lot of companies don't have legacy (technologies) to worry about. Many have started later and can build differently. Some of the private banks in India have some of the most advanced tech systems in the world. We will be selective in India expansion.
What is the role of the metaverse in the work that companies like yours do?
All the technologies that constitute a metaverse have been there for many years. We too have been experimenting with the metaverse. Last week we hosted a metaverse meetup for India. The world of metaverse for enterprises is all about experimentation. No one has hit upon the right business model. I think there will be two sets of use cases that will come early.
One is around fashion and entertainment. The workplace is at the opposite end. We have technology that can allow people to have avatars represent themselves in video calls. It can also allow teams to get together in physical surroundings virtually. These two sets of use cases will be the first adoption of a metaverse in the corporate sector. Companies that lead the workplace solutions market will be in a stronger position to gain from it.
Going forward, enterprises will want to engage with employees in a metaverse since not everyone is going to come back to the office and many employees will be located in countries where a company may not even have a physical office.
What’s the role of blockchain in all this? Has it lived up to the hype?
There was a hype cycle around blockchain that didn't live up to its promise. There hasn't been a solid business use case, except for cryptos. Now metaverse, crypto, and blockchain are inseparable. There is no metaverse without non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The way to monetize in the metaverse is through NFTs. Blockchain technology, especially NFTs are going through a significant rebirth.
Companies have bet big on AI, how has that fared?
There are two broad sets of use cases. One is to improve process and efficiency and the other is to improve engagement and experience. AI is not a magic wand that can fix everything. To an extent, you can say that AI thus far has not lived up to its promise (either). However, in both directions, there has been material progress.
On the experience side, if you think of image and speech recognition, they have become completely mainstream without us even realizing it. The other aspect of AI that is becoming popular is analytics and personalization. On the back-end side of the process, the first phase of automation is based on repetitive tasks, now there are use cases where a machine is now being allowed to make decisions.