Huge revenue growth if Indian IT grows
India’s largest technology firms have had a surprisingly good pandemic. Infosys posted a sequential growth in revenue in rupee terms, buoyed by new large deals, and outperformed its peers for the second successive quarter. TCS, HCL Technologies and Wipro saw a sequential decline due to pandemic-related disruption, but all four reported operating profits ahead of the street’s expectations. In an interview to this newspaper, Infosys CEO Salil Parekh expressed confidence in going digital and cloud computing. When one company in any sector goes digital, others have to follow, just to stay in the reckoning. That means plenty of work for the IT industry as a whole. Overall, the prospects of India’s IT firms look bright, provided these companies move up the technology ladder swiftly because artificial intelligence will automate many kinds of work they perform.
These companies have been preparing, to varying degrees, for their own digital transformation and greater automation. More skilling, inorganic growth through acquisitions, an increase in the R&D spend to be better prepared for the pace of technology change, investing in startups and working closely with marquee clients on large projects in sectors that range from BFSI to manufacturing were considered blue-prints to stay afloat. This could be a challenge in the long run. Before artificial intelligence eats their lunch, Indian IT companies must themselves deploy artificial intelligence in their offerings. They have to alter their hiring, nurture and reskill talent internally and motivate people to develop and acquire new skills.
Digital transformation, the cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things offer huge opportunities. The industry needs new skills and new ways of doing things so that companies can shift gears to higher productivity. Machine learning involves a lot of human labour, to begin with. Once that stage is over, machines and their algorithms can displace a whole lot of middling human skills. So, software engineers might need to learn new skills and unlearn old ones, to grab new opportunities.