Cognizant Technology: The Home Team

By Joshua Weinberger Print this article Print

Before establishing the software-development division in 1994, he was chairman of Dun & Bradstreet India and China.

500 Glenpointe Centre West, Teaneck, NJ 07666
(201) 801-0233

EMPLOYEES: 6,500 worldwide

Kumar Mahadeva
Chairman, CEO
Before establishing the software-development division in 1994, he was chairman of Dun & Bradstreet India and China. Also worked at AT&T and at McKinsey & Co. Became CEO in 1998.

Francisco D'Souza
Senior Vice President
At 34 years old, he oversees operations and business development. Works with clients using offshore resources to execute software development and maintenance projects. Spent four years at Dun & Bradstreet in Germany, the U.S. and India.

Offers information technology design, development, integration and maintenance services performed at centers in India and Ireland. Formerly a subsidiary of IMS Health, the firm is recognized for its strengths in the healthcare, insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

The Home Team
As the Jets and Giants can attest, it takes more than a New Jersey address to make people admit that's where they're from. Cognizant Technology Solutions has been juggling the "domestic" and "overseas" labels for nearly a decade. Now that the "real" Indian firms are opening major branches in the States—or even acquiring American companies themselves—the distinction may not amount to much after all.

"Three years ago I was looking to [Cognizant] to fill holes of undesirable work that my staff loathed the idea of doing," Ace Hardware's Jay Heubner says. "That's still the case, but we're beginning to lean on them for more strategic guidance" on such projects as an e-commerce scalability performance test.

At Royal & SunAlliance, Betty Higby's experience was more immediate. "We gave them almost a 'Mission: Impossible,'" she says. After the 1998 acquisition of a non-Y2K-compliant firm, "we had less than 10 months to make all of those systems compliant and get them into production," Higby says. Cognizant was able "to get an 18-month project done in nine months. Now they're our preferred offshore vendor." Cognizant also played "a very significant role in the development and the design of our Web-based product," Higby says.

Heubner's equally pleased. "I've got rid of most of my other vendors—[Cognizant's] my preferred vendor of choice." Even so, on the next multi-year project, Heubner's plan includes "breaking it up into segments—they could go to Cognizant, but they may not," he says. "They'd do the lion's share of the work, but they're not guaranteed it by any shot."

It's not a factor of cost. "When Cognizant gives you a price, they don't come back and nickel-and-dime you. They don't charge for lodging, or expenses, or travel, or overtime." (Philadelphia Stock Exchange's Melva Demmer certainly agrees: on a $500,000 project, Cognizant came in about $75,000 under the wire.)

Code quality isn't the issue, either—Heubner says he hasn't had a failed project yet. But mentoring can be sticky: when transferring knowledge on "a project with .NET or Java technology, or if you were looking for a vendor partner to come in and sit in the middle of your team—my personal feeling is that that may not be [Cognizant's] sweet spot." New Jersey has its swamps, too.

This article was originally published on 2003-06-01
Assistant Editor
After being on staff at The New Yorker for five years, Josh later traveled the world, hitting all seven continents in a single year. At Yale University, he majored in American Studies, English, and Theatre Studies.

eWeek eWeek

Have the latest technology news and resources emailed to you everyday.