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Meet Brian Humphries, Cognizant’s new CEO-in-waiting

Meet Brian Humphries, Cognizant’s new CEO-in-waiting
Brian Humphries

When Brian Humphries takes charge as CEO at Cognizant on April 1, the Vodafone top gun will have to hit the ground running with the mandate to scale the $1.6 billion revenues that the software services and consulting firm racked up under outgoing CEO Francisco D’Souza over the past decade.

D’Souza was appointed CEO in 2007. Cognizant was clocking revenues at $1.42 billion at the time and employed about 40,000 people. Its current headcount stands at 282,000. D’Souza, also a co-founder of the Teaneck, New Jersey-based firm, will serve as full-time executive vice chairman till the end of June, and thereafter, remain on the board as vice chairman, a statement said.

Humphries will be Cognizant’s first non-founder CEO, a significant departure for the nearly 30-year old firm. 

In his upcoming assignment, Humphries will have to find new revenue streams, especially in emerging technology segments such as analytics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing. Most of Cognizant’s rivals, including Wipro, TCS, Accenture and Infosys, are currently engaged in fierce competition to capture more market share in many of these segments.

Humphries’ experience at Vodafone should hold him in good stead as he gets down to charting the next phase of growth at Cognizant. As the current CEO of Vodafone Business, he’s led its global enterprise vertical, which consists of all business-to-business fixed and mobile customers, as well as Vodafone’s IoT, cloud hosting, carrier services and security solutions.

During his tenure, the division accounted for nearly a third of the Vodafone Group's service revenues with approximately €12 billion in sales globally.

Humphries’s most important contribution came via the $550-million Vodafone-IBM deal. As per the terms of the transaction, Vodafone would pay the agreed sum to IBM under an eight-year managed services agreement which will offer tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to networked businesses.

The deal was a joint venture between the two companies, where the two will provide a combination of cloud computing and connectivity to customers. An example of this would be facilitating communication between robots on a factory floor without the need for a big ‘pipe’ connecting back to a data centre.

Also, since most firms use more than 10 cloud systems, the combination would also make it easy to link them making it easier for firms to adapt and innovate without having to redesign their networks.

Humphries joined Vodafone from Dell where he was the president and chief operating officer of its infrastructure solutions group based in Boston and Geneva. Earlier, he was the president of global enterprise solutions at Dell, a group with approximately $15 billion in revenue, and before that, he was vice president and general manager at EMEA Enterprise Solutions.

Before joining Dell, Humphries was with Hewlett-Packard, which included a stint as the chief financial officer of HP Services. The early part of his career was spent with Compaq and Digital Equipment Corporation.

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