Infosys plays innovation card to win more Airbus business
India’s Infosys has become an important provider of IT services to Airbus. The company – created in Pune in 1981, before moving to Banglore a few years later – is primarily involved in the design and maintenance of the European group’s enterprise resource planning system, which is currently being upgraded. Infosys has long been known as a specialist in software development and maintenance, but it is also active in other areas, having participated in a variety of calls for bids from Airbus: transition from 2D to 3D for older product modelling in order to boost productivity, cybersecurity, etc.
An Airbus official explains that Infosys has been able to expand its service offering by setting up offices in Europe, including France – part of a strategy to be as close as possible to the customer in order to understand customer requirements and offer the best response using a local presence to create a link between Bangalore and the customer. In June 2015, for example, Infosys opened a project development centre in Blagnac in order to move closer to its aerospace customers, including Airbus and its supply chain.
Infosys has been present in France for many years, initially opening an office in La Défense, near Paris, in 1999 and working with a variety of customers, including Toshiba, Schneider Electric, Schlumberger, BNP Paribas, Alstom, Air Liquide, etc. The company then established a presence in Toulouse and, in the early 2000s, took part in the A340 and A380 programmes. Infosys worked on the design and development of the top and bottom skin extensions within the inner fixed trailing edge for the A380, as well as playing a key role in developing tools and processes for product lifecycle management (PLM).
In 2014, there were reports in the Indian press concerning the possible acquisition by Infosys of Cimpa, a Toulouse-based subsidiary of Airbus specializing in PLM. For a period of several months, Infosys did nothing to quell the speculation, until Cimpa was finally acquired by Sopra Steria in 2015. Though in this case Infosys did not close the deal, the episode provides a good illustration of the company’s acquisition ambitions in Europe and elsewhere.
On 18th November 2016 the company acquired a stake in Danish artificial intelligence (AI) specialist Insilo. An Airbus official comments that the deal demonstrates Infosys’ awareness of the fact that AI is a topic of interest for the European group and so they are making the necessary investments to be able respond to future requirements. For the Airbus official, the primary quality of the Indian firm is their ability to become increasingly innovative, to move away from the IT programme business model, where Airbus specifies what they want and Infosys supplies the product. Infosys, the official explains, replies to calls for bids in areas adjacent to their core business, even if this means leaving their traditional comfort zone.
The Insilo investment (around €2m) is just one of many. In 2013 Infosys set up a fund of around €75m dedicated to innovation, a sum that has since been increased to around €430m. The objective is to invest in and support innovative start-ups in order to offer new services as the company seeks to achieve its sales target of €18bn by 2020. In the 2015/2016 fiscal year, Infosys reported sales of €8.3bn and a net profit of €1.8bn. The company has a workforce of 194,000 people worldwide.