A DIG­I­TAL-READY WORK­FORCE

India Today - - UPFRONT - by Rajeev Dubey Rajeev Dubey is Pres­i­dent (HR, After-Mar­ket & Cor­po­rate Ser­vices) and Mem­ber, Group Man­age­ment Board, Mahin­dra & Mahin­dra

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

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