The Produnova moment for India’s IT

Chest-thumping is not exactly a national activity any more. But at a time when obituaries are written on India’s IT sector, sending shivers down the spines of techies and computer students, a reality check is essential, even if it may sound a bit ostentatious.

Of course, the industry is passing through “difficult and structurally challenging time”, as candidly acknowledged by Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka, on Friday. A day before, on Thursday, TCS, India’s largest IT company, delivered a subdued growth performance in its second quarter. It suffered a loss of sequential business momentum and posted revenues of Rs 29,284 crore ($4.37 billion), much below the Street expectations. Infosys, though reported better results, downgraded guidance for the rest of the year, citing an “uncertain external environment”. Infy’s slow growth projection may make the earlier stated revenue target of $20 billion by 2020 look like a tough peak to conquer.

Since the near-fictitious but money-spning Y2K bug was fixed, which made the then Indian IT minnows guffaw their way to banks, long 16 years were spent without much of innovation that could have been handy in its inevitable metamorphosis now. Digital is not about the zeros and ones any more, it is the creative grey that lies mysteriously buried between the black and white. As your mobile phone turned your buddy or bank relationship manager became your business travel advisor and your refrigerator began advising you on what to stock immediately as per your eating pattern and history, we are talking about creating a code that can cross-talk among industries, picking up cues from user data and using artificial intelligence. Those days when techies were called in every time a change needed to be installed have gone by. The new-age software takes care of the future needs and it has begun evolving as per the user’s demands and requirements, eliminating human interface completely. Welcome to the big world of data intelligence that aids all our apps and software solutions. The end product is amazingly self-sustainable.

In order to accommodate this inexorable revolution, IT sector is on a Mission Innovation, changing its resources, learning new technologies, challenging the conventional business models with groundbreaking ways. Industry insiders aver it is a massive shift in the thought process. Both TCS and Infy, along with several other Indian IT service providers, have recognised this shift and are investing heavily in digital learning. Every employee is mandatorily undergoes this perpetual training.

In a town-hall message to TCS employees, CEO N Chandrasekaran said any competitive advantage is ephemeral in today’s business landscape. His words may sound like an uninspiring sermon by old economy CEOs, but cannot be more truthful in today’s world. “To sustain growth and success, we must adapt and learn at a rapid pace… Changing customer preferences and business scenarios make it important that we are always ‘upskilling’ in order to stay relevant,” he said, adding that the TCS Digital Learning Platform is a key resource and already 180,992 TCSers have used it to gain new capabilities. True, not just for TCS. Every other Indian IT company worth its salt has been trying to up skills and technology in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, robotics and automation.

It is a Produnova moment for India’s IT sector. Just between TCS and Infy, they have over 5.6 lakh techies on their rolls. Thousands of smaller companies and IT start-ups have employed millions of Indian brains. According to Nasscom, India annually churns out nearly 16 lakh engineering graduates, nearly 2 lakh of which are absorbed by country’s IT industry. In 2015-16, it recruited two lakh engineers from campuses across India. So it’s vital even for India’s economy to ensure the vault ends triumphant, without any bruise.

Well, if Indian IT giants can’t do it, who else can?