It’s been an unsettling year for India’s IT services industry, a sector that’s among the largest employers in the country. The malaise, as most experts will tell you, is obvious: the shelf life of head count-based IT services was over long ago. Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies are actually changing the way businesses work, and the $150-billion IT industry in India, which thrived on cost arbitrage and fast-paced growth rates for so long, is mostly locked into traditional sources of revenue that are fast drying up. Of course, emerging technology brings new opportunities but, for a sector that employs nearly 4 million people, it also presents an immediate concern. Job losses, by most accounts, will be inevitable.
Industry experts say that emerging AI technologies will change work profiles, and that more high value jobs will open up. But many current positions are fast disappearing. A year ago, HfS Research estimated that the IT industry in India is set to lose 6.4 lakh low-skilled positions by 2021 because of automation. Whatever the exact figure may be, the prospect of job losses has certainly been the dominant theme in recent months.