BANGALORE The symbolism was impossible to miss. A year into his tenure as the chief executive of Infosys, Vishal Sikka leaned down and touched the feet of Narayana Murthy, one of the company's co-founders and a driving force behind India's emergence in the global technology industry. As everyone in the Bangalore auditorium that day immediately understood, Sikka, 49 at the time, was using a traditional Indian gesture to seek the blessing of his elder, the 69-year-old Murthy. "What a pleasure," Murthy said. "What a pleasure."
Ever since Sikka had been named the first outsider to run Infosys on June 12, 2014, it seemed clear that a changing of the guard was underway. Murthy had built Infosys into a multibillion-dollar business by deploying armies of Indian software engineers to do back-office work for global companies like Accenture, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank. But that model was running out of steam. Sikka, a Stanford graduate who earned a reputation as an innovator at German software company SAP, was going to push Infosys hard into big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.