A DIGITAL-READY WORKFORCE
Layoffs in the IT sector are not as much of a concern at the moment as getting access to the right technical skillsets. The fact is that the growth of the IT industry is coming down, and if one were to go by the projection of industry body Nasscom, the growth rate in the current year is also expected to be lower, primarily due to geopolitical and other factors.
In addition to this, there is a lot of focus on automation across the industry, as global corporations, from plane-makers to consumer goods firms, bet on the use of machines to further reduce costs and improve overall efficiency.
So the way I look at it, automation may threaten lower-end jobs that are repetitive in nature and can be done with minimal human interference. What we are seeing in the industry now is that the resources being released are being retrained, reskilled and redeployed in other value-added jobs. There is no dearth of opportunities for folks who have been trained on latest/ customer-driven technologies. The IT sector is still hungry for such talent. Layoffs have been very much a part of the industry since the beginning and will continue to be there, but will be limited.
The way to look at the present situation is not as job cuts but as changing the nature of work and repurposing resources. The industry is at the cusp of a major transformation due to the proliferation of advanced digital technologies such as business analytics, cloud, mobility, internet of things (IoT), security, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotic process automation (RPA). So, while traditional IT spends have been declining, the spending on digital technologies has almost doubled, with a major focus on these technologies.
The triggers for most of these are consumers. As service providers, we work for businesses that eventually sell or cater to consumers. Eventually, business is about providing the right experience to consumers. We call this ‘Connected World. Connected Experiences’.
So, the paradigm shift across the world has resulted in two options—disrupt or die. The disruption that is perhaps more visible to the outside world is machines replacing men, but the bigger disruption is about the underlying technologies that are at play and the resultant impact that has started becoming visible. As service providers, the IT services companies have no option but to transform themselves to deal with the new realities and newer kinds of demands.
We live in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world. The kind of geopolitical uncertainties we are witnessing now are unprecedented, giving rise to a new wave of protectionism. But let’s not forget that behind every challenge lies an opportunity, and that is what this industry has successfully leveraged time and again. So, the ball is in our court and the answer lies in how fast we can reinvent ourselves—in terms of building newer business models, newer delivery mechanisms and embracing newer technologies.
The changes in these norms may eventually lead to higher offshoring and perhaps better opportunities. Having said that, spotting trends and doing advance planning to be ready for any eventuality has been the strength of this industry. We are seeing an increasing trend towards local hiring. Companies need to create a digital-ready workforce, which is ready to contribute to new sets of demands.
Automation threatens lower-end jobs that are repetitive and need minimal human interference