Automation jitters in the IT sector –to be worried or neh?

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A recent study indicated that the careers of several mid-level IT engineers are at peril. Decisions taken by companies, comments by industry tycoons and statements by industry analysts seen recently also point towards the same.

US based research firm HfS predicted that India’s IT services industry will lose 6.4 lakh low-skilled jobs to automation by 2021. The firm predicts there will be 1.4 million IT jobs slashed globally, which is a decrease of 9 percent staff cut. In India, the industry grew from $ 100 million in 1992 to $146 billion in 2016, yet, the research points towards the much needed change, especially for today’s IT techies. Especially after spending a monotonous 10 or 15 years in the flourishing industry.

Automation has been more or less a bane in the manufacturing industry, amassing several jobs year by year. The same seems to be catching up in the IT industry as companies look for ways to increase efficiency and concentrate on the mid-level and high-level employees to garner the best results.

Infosys hired 5,719 people in the first nine months of this fiscal, down from 17,196 in the same period a year earlier. CEO Vishal Sikka stressed that the company will relentlessly focus on introducing automation across projects, which is bound to reflect in future hiring.

A thought- In a promising and growing industry, where could the average joe of this sector be going wrong? The need to stay updated, especially in a time where change is the only constant, becomes a necessity. The lack of which may pull the employee to the low-skill cadre.

At the Annual National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) Summit, McKinsey India’s Managing Director Noshir Kaka said if 30 percent of the engineers don’t reskill themselves they would be redundant.

Supporting his statement, number show that during its growth towards a $100-billion sector, added 3 million people, but will add less than a million people for the next $100 billion in revenues.

SandeepAggarwal, Chief Marketing Officer of Serco, a UK-headquartered BPO firm, also seconded his statement and said that it is the curve of growth and is inevitable. But the real question is, how to solve it.

When TCS announced a 1-2 percent job cut which majorly consisted of engineers with at least ten years of experience, industry watchers said that it could be because they focused too much on managing a team and too little on honing their skills.

According to HfS “low-skilled” jobs will fall by 30 percent, “medium-skilled” jobs will increase by 8 percent and high-skilled jobs will rise by 56percent.

By definition, low-skills are defined as those that follow a set process and are repetitive and do not require much in the way of educational qualifications. Medium skills are those that require some amount of human judgment in the process, dealing with more challenging problems. High-skilled jobs require creative problem solving, analytics and critical thinking.

The BPO sector is likely to take a hit according to industry analysts. Employing 3.7 million, the impact of automation will mainly fall on those working in the BPO and infrastructure management space, both of which are adopting automation.”The BPO industry is going to be facing the problem of robotic process automation in the next two years. This is a challenge the industry and the country will face,” Asheesh Mehra, CEO of BPO firm Antworks, said to Gadgets Now.

The ones settled on the mid-level cadre may still have a way to adapt to the expected changes. MOOC programs, additional short-term courses that can enhance their skills, upgrade their knowledge and specialize in a field are some ways. With their prior experience, guidance and already existing skills, the jump to a high-level job is not impossible.

In an interview with Economic Times, Rituparna Chakraborty, Senior Vice President, TeamLease Services said,”Short-term courses in integration and management services, advanced excel, web research and content management can increase their employability quotient.” This is evinced by the rapidly increasing growth rate of online certificate course providers.

In short, process-oriented jobs will be replaced by automation, which accommodates a rapid growth for high-skill jobs. With the evolution of the ubiquitous Internet of Things in all sectors, the industry will demand polished and skilled employees for various areas. Analysts predict big data, analytics, machine learning, mobility, design, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence to be some of the areas to fetch lucrative packages.

However, the positive side of this change points towards higher demand for skilled engineers and analysts to focus on newer technologies imply fresh jobs. In turn, the industry will see more innovations, creativity and maximum efficiency.”Nobody’s really seen what automation and robotics will really lead to. There will be some impact of automation but overall we believe that technology adoption will actually lead to more job creation across sectors,” Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president at Nasscom, told ET.

However, automation as it is still is a baffling concept. As Gupta states, automation is still in beta, but research points to the positive. Initially, it might be a challenge, similar to what was faced in the manufacturing sector in the early 90s. The results may be modest and the delivery may fluctuate, a risk companies are ready to take.

Similar to the outcome of automation in other sectors, the company is likely to see a rise in revenue, utilize human resources efficiently, lower costs and control production for best results.  In a recent post earnings call, PierreNanterme, Chairman and CEO of Accenture said “The total headcount, which we all expect will continue to grow less, than our revenues moving forward, due to the factors of automation and productivity in our operations”.

Tata Consultancy Services, which has over 350,000 employees, said headcount addition had peaked at around 90,000 in FY16 and that it would hire fewer people going forward.

While these numbers bring bad news for some, it also indicates opening doors for creative and efficient engineer who can think outside the box, interact and develop better. Internal placements and new opportunities will increase, provided the employee pushes himself and ups his skills periodically.

In the first industrial revolution, automation helped various sectors become stronger. In the second, it made us faster. With intelligent machines, analytics, technology and the flourishing concept of Internet of Things, the possibilities are endless.

About Author

Dibya Prakash is a technology consultant, mentor & strategist. With a deep experience of working across the ladder in the services and consulting sector, with roles ranging from enterprise consultant to technology head. Dibya consults several CMM5 & Fortune 100/500 companies across different continents, for their different technology, engineering & process requirements.

 LinkedIn : http://in.linkedin.com/in/dibyaprakash

Twitter : @being_dp

Blog : http://www.dibyaprakash.com/

 

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About

Dibya Prakash is a technology consultant, mentor & strategist. With a deep experience of working across the ladder in the services and consulting sector, with roles ranging from enterprise consultant to technology head. Dibya consults several CMM5 & Fortune 100/500 companies across different continents, for their different technology, engineering & process requirements. LinkedIn : http://in.linkedin.com/in/dibyaprakash Twitter : @being_dp Blog : http://www.dibyaprakash.com/

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