Automation, H1-B, ebbing growth: Culprits of layoffs in Indian IT

The IT industry is poised to replace a huge chunk of its human capital with machines

The Dollar Business Bureau

As growth slows for India’s $150 billion IT industry, many IT majors have begun to lay-off mid and senior level employees to account for tapering revenue growth. The probable tightening of H1-B visas under Trump’s reign is also a strong motivator for companies to hire locally for projects based outside India. The global and domestic factors have together concocted a nightmare for IT professionals in India.

As a result of automation and increasing use of bots, fruits of cutting edge research in machine learning and artificial intelligence, the IT industry is well poised to replace a huge chunk of its human capital with machines. The threat, which commentators have been worrying about for more than a decade, is now manifesting in flesh, making scores of IT workers redundant.

Approach to appraisals seems to have shifted from experience and work-based evaluation to one that actively looks for willingness to adapt/change/catch up and learn. The future of most employees depends on their ability to make themselves useful in the rapidly changing work environment. HR professionals have also been in the spotlight for easing transition into automation and reskilling employees for new jobs that will be created from such a change.

Recently, the former Infosys Chief, Narayan Murthy had said, at BioAsia Conference, that the tech giant, for the first time in its history of existence, had recorded a negative growth in employment generation during 2016-17. The trend seems to apply to other behemoths like Cognizant and Wipro as well.

Infosys plans to show out as many as 1,000 employees in the upper management. In response to Cognizant’s decision of laying off 6,000 employees, a group of employees from Chennai have stepped up to challenge the company’s decision legally, seeking help from the state’s labour commission. Cognizant had allegedly forced employees to voluntarily resign after giving them poor ratings on their appraisals. Meanwhile, the spokesperson questioned these accusations, stating that Cognizant hasn’t announced any additional job cuts other than the routine annual lay-offs which are part of the performance review cycle.

A century ago, industrial revolution had clamped on manual labour – machines substituted for the work a man’s hands would do. At the turn of yet another revolution, we now see machines (which can think) climb up the ladder and takeover the work of human mind.

The Dollar Business Bureau - May 09, 2017 12:00 IST