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BENGALURU : Indian IT companies are expected to continue to benefit from a multi-year technology adoption cycle. However, the sudden acceleration in demand has led to a war for digital talent, taking the need for skilling to an all-time high. In an interview, Debjani Ghosh, president of industry body Nasscom, talks about the future of IT firms, supply-side pressures and tech trends for 2022. Edited excerpts:

 

How long can IT companies ride on the pandemic-accelerated digital transformation wave?

While the covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis of the 21st century, one fundamental change that it was able to drive was the rapid adoption of digital as a norm, and this shift is irreversible. The pandemic acted as a catalyst for digital transformation, where digital was no more good-to-do but a must-do. Adopting newer technologies such as virtual collaboration tools, cloud, blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things and robotics, companies were able to ensure business continuity. The advantage of digital transformation is that you can completely reimagine your business with the help of technology. Top IT companies witnessed a solid deal pipeline of $15 billion in Q1FY22 and 2x growth in digital spending in tech services, BPM (business process management), ER&D (engineering research and development) and global capability centres.

The increased demand for digital will drive growth in the coming years. The industry will continue to invest more in building talent, innovation, technology and customer capabilities to meet this demand. Trends indicate that we are in a multi-year technology adoption cycle, though the specific opportunities will continue to evolve and grow. As we shift from response to recovery, IT companies have a huge opportunity to prioritize a digital transformation underpinned by sustainability to future-proof the global economy.

Given the changing dynamics, how can Indian IT services cos continue to differentiate and be relevant?

The industry is designing a new playbook with a foundational shift from cost advantage to customer experience, accelerated digital capability development, shifting to hybrid working models and increased focus on less penetrated sectors such as healthcare. The opportunity for accelerated growth looks stronger than ever. The changes we have made to our business or operation model will set us up for success. To sustain this growth, the industry will need to continue working towards strengthening partnerships, skilling digital-ready talent, building innovative solutions, continuing to be agile and resilient and adding the importance of sustainability, inclusion and diversity as a key differentiator.

How can we address supply-side pressure, given that both startups and large tech firms are scouting for the same talent?

The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of enterprises, creating enormous opportunities for all organizations. This sudden acceleration in demand has led to this war for digital talent. India’s demand for digital talent jobs is approximately eight times larger than its fresh talent pool. By 2024, this demand is expected to become 20 times the available fresh talent pool. Startups hire around 11-13%of the total digital talent pool. While there is pressure on the supply side, companies are investing in fresher hiring, upskilling existing talent and looking at alternative talent sources. FutureSkills Prime is a testimony of the efforts of the government and Nasscom to accelerate the digital skilling journey in India and become the world’s digital talent hub.

What are some of the top technology trends for 2022?

At Nasscom, we coined the term ‘Techade’, which means the decade of the 20s will be largely shaped by technology that will become the fabric of society, business and economies. Technologies will continue to evolve. Today it is AI, data, cloud, IoT, blockchain, and cybersecurity…There will be an increasing focus on quantum, 5G, metaverse and others in 2022. However, the key trends to watch out will be a convergence of these technologies, the direct to stakeholder business model using these technologies, building ecosystems to leverage adjacencies and common data architectures, leveraging tech for solving deep problems and accelerating access, affordability and ESG (environmental, social and governance) as the key differentiator.

What’s your take on employees returning to offices versus hybrid or remote working?

The industry has been operating under a remote working model since March 2020 that helped create best practices that reimagine the hybrid workplace by adopting online collaboration tools and embracing proactive planning in collaboration with clients to accelerate the transition to an innovative operating model. We believe a hybrid working model will provide flexibility for employees and drive innovation and collaboration in the IT ecosystem, helping us build a new normal and a conducive post-pandemic work environment. As per a recent report, both employers and workers are interested in returning to offices in a hybrid setting and determining the best hybrid model based on their company require-ments and workforce dynamics.

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