Cognizant began as Dun & Bradstreet Satyam Software (DBSS), established as Dun & Bradstreet's in-house technology unit focused on implementing large-scale IT projects for Dun & Bradstreet businesses. In 1996, the company started pursuing customers beyond Dun & Bradstreet.
In 1996, Dun & Bradstreet spun off several of its subsidiaries including Erisco, IMS International, Nielsen Media Research, Pilot Software, Strategic Technologies and DBSS, to form a new company called Cognizant Corporation. Three months later, in 1997, DBSS renamed itself to Cognizant Technology Solutions. In July 1997, Dun & Bradstreet bought Satyam's 24% stake in DBSS for $3.4 million. Headquarters were moved to the United States, and in March 1998, Kumar Mahadeva was named CEO. Operating as a division of the Cognizant Corporation, the company mainly focused on Y2K-related projects and web development.