Cognizant Rationalising Costs To Re-invest In Talent, Expand Digital Business
Employees work at their computer screen. (Photographer: Kerem Uzel/Bloomberg) 

Cognizant Rationalising Costs To Re-invest In Talent, Expand Digital Business

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Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. is exercising "tighter control" over expenses through a slew of measures, including slower pace of hiring and reduced travel overheads, as it looks to re-invest in talent and digital solutions to drive growth.

The Nasdaq-listed IT company, which has a significant presence in India, said it took "targeted actions" at senior-level executives in the second quarter—a move that is expected to result in $65 million of annualised savings.

"...in the second quarter, we took targeted actions at the senior levels of our pyramid to simplify our organisation structure. These actions are expected to result in $65 million of annualised savings with half of that to be realised in the remainder of 2019," Cognizant Chief Financial Officer Karen McLoughlin said at a recent earnings call.

Cognizant, over the next two quarters, expects to further reduce overall costs through a number of actions, she added.

"...including aligning headcount growth with revenue growth by further slowing the pace of hiring and being thoughtful on where we backfill attrition. Headcount growth on a full-year basis will align to our full-year constant currency revenue guidance."

According to McLoughlin, Cognizant continues to focus on its workforce strategy and management, and expects to incur an additional $48 million of compensation-related costs in rest of 2019 for its programme to recognise and retain best talent.

"...there are several areas that we can and will address in the second half of the year to allow us to reduce costs to reinvest in areas to drive growth, including attracting and retaining the best talent and expanding our portfolio of digital solutions," she said.

Cognizant is also focussing on higher-value services, such as those in the digital space, for a higher margin realisation.

The CFO pointed out that the company is looking at "greater discipline" on capturing improved pricing levers, further aligning promotions and wage increases with bill rate adjustments, and enhanced oversight on use of subcontractors.

"We will also have significantly tighter control of areas within SG&A such as disciplined hiring of non-billable resources, further rationalisation of our real estate portfolio, tighter control over T&E including significantly reduced travel for internal and other non client-facing meetings, limiting business-class travels, relocations etc..." she said.

The company intends to hire over 500 revenue-generating associates over the coming quarters, a combination of customer-facing and sales support professionals.

During the April-June 2019 quarter, the company added a net 2,400 people to take its total headcount to 288,200 people.

Cognizant, which competes with Indian IT majors like Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. and Infosys Ltd., had posted 11.6 percent increase in net profit to $509 million for June 2019 quarter, while its revenue grew 3.4 per cent to $4.14 billion over the year-ago period. It expects its annual revenue to grow by 3.9-4.9 percent this year.

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