The news about WIPRO retrenching some employees has caused a slight stir in the minds of many aspiring Engineering graduates about the future of their employment prospects. Though the number of retrenchments in WIPRO is by itself not a large number compared to the strength of its work force, it does give an indication of the direction in which the IT job market seems to be moving.
It is possible that this trickle may gather momentum and other companies also start shuffling their work force creating a crisis in the IT workforce and large scale unemployment of computer savvy workforce.
There is a need for Cyber Space watchers to recognize that when techies start losing jobs, the possibilities of at least some of them getting into deviant habits are very much real since they have the necessary skill sets to create “Cyber trouble”. Some who run short of cash for their genuine needs may turn to providing online support to the cyber underworld in the form of writing malware codes or spamming or acting as virus droppers. Some may use the time to reignite their previous jealousies and personal vengeance on others which may manifest in more of crimes like hacking of face book profiles, defamation and even “Glassdoor Attacks”.
In general, the Cyber Crime incidence in India may increase if the job losses occur in IT industry. This is more so since some of the job losses will be in the mid level workers with experience and financial commitments as they are replaced with the low cost freshers.
Some of these job losses are also triggered by the “Protectionist” attitude that is growing in the US and other markets. Consequent to the Visa restrictions imposed by USA and possibly more to follow if the trend spreads to Europe. Mr Trump has been clear in his approach that he wants Indian IT companies to create more jobs in USA rather than exporting manpower from India and this certainly means that the growth prospects for Indians working in USA will dwindle.
In this context we can recognize that just as frustration of youth in the Kashmir Valley can be the reason for them turning into “Stone Pelters”, the frustration if it grows in the Cyber Workforce in India could create a situation where Indian techies may start turning into “Cyber Stone Pelters”. Hence keeping such skilled workforce from not falling prey to negative thoughts and keeping up a positive motivation is the challenge before us.
Both from the point of view of maintaining the IT prosperity in India and not creating a fertile ground for Cyber Criminal workforce to increase, we have a need to find solutions to reduce the impact of IT job losses that may hit the Indian IT companies in the next few months.
The one obvious thought is that the situation indicates that India’s IT development will be more dependent on the outsourced business than it has ever been in the past. If Indian IT companies have to reduce their work force in USA or cannot expand its present workforce working onsite, to meet the future growth, the only solution left for them is to replace the current work force or the future potential with a “Virtual Workforce”.
But Mr Trump may be pushing the US IT companies to increase jobs in the IT industry which may force them to bring pressure on Indian IT companies to recruit more locals in US to replace the Indian workforce presently working onsite. Additionally, jobs in the IT industry is also being affected adversely by the increasing levels of “Automation” which also may eat up some jobs and we need to address this issue as well. Hence there is a challenge for replacing the current workforce of Indians working in US with a virtual workforce without losing the business.
We therefore need to find innovative solutions to ensure that there is no job loss despite the new developments in US, Europe or elsewhere.
The problem that Indian IT companies are facing now have been partially created by the policies of the IT companies in the past giving more emphasis to “Body Shopping” rather than “Skills Marketing”. The industry has today built its business model on “Number of Billable Heads” rather than “Measurable Outputs”. It is now time for Indian companies to start changing the narrative of their business offerings from “We offer so many heads at xx dollars per hour” to “We offer the solution at a cost of xxx dollars per month”.
I therefore call upon the IT industry to start a new generation of BPOs where the concept of “head count based billing” is given a go by and only “measurable service units based billing” is adopted.
This apart, there is a need for Government to provide some additional incentives for the BPO industries to be more competitive on the basis of “Solution Offerings”. The proposed new Data Protection Act of India will be one policy decision where the Government action will affect the industry either positively or negatively and hence it has to tread carefully when the new law is introduced.