Recent comments by Mohandas Pai , ex-CFO of Infosys have added to overall pessimism in IT industry around automation.

He was quoted as saying,

“I think in the IT sector, may be 10 per cent minimum of incremental jobs that are created will disappear. That means every year if they do (create) 2 to 2.5 lakh jobs, 25,000-50,000 jobs will disappear.”.

“There are today lots of people (middle-level managers) earning between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 70 lakh (per annum). Half of them will lose their jobs in the next ten years,”.

Well, there is some truth in his comments though.

  1. Automation has been typically applied into two major areas into IT – Testing and Project Management. It includes tasks which can be easily automated – for example, test script authoring and execution or PM reporting. So, if you are just working in pure-play delivery managing lots of people and merely acting as bridge between leadership and technology team, then your tasks are already automated or next in line. Most of the middle management reporting (including status reporting in excels and power-points) can now be easily automated. If not, will be delegated to lower skilled resources.
  2. Clients are also warming up to possibilities of automation and using it as negotiation lever in contract renewals. So, if your organisation is slow to respond on automation, market will force them to choose it anyways. After-all, how can you reduce contract price say by 30-40% without slashing resources and involving automation ?
  3. Clients are reluctant to pay for pure-play governance roles. While it has been steady argument against levels of governance, now it’s reached its peak. It means that client will force companies to slash middle/senior management roles , often staffed under guise of Project/Program governance.
  4. IT Outsourcing model (call it 1.0) has reached its maturity, so are delivery tools associated with it. So, it is expected that standard IT outsourcing contract should run in its ‘Auto-pilot’ mode with minimal management bandwidth to oversee it. You can take a cue from BPO scenario in terms of commoditization. So, if you are running big IT Application Outsourcing project, it is expected that very few people are needed to manage it. You can only do it when you have better delivery tools and automation thrown into the mix.

Where does that lead to all those middle and senior management folks who are now well entrenched into traditional delivery models and faces a significant threat to their jobs ?

  1. Consider automation as important productivity tool to your work. It is expected to free you up from drudgery of routine tasks, so that you can focus more on other important tasks.
  2. If you are so consumed by day-to-day grind of delivery, its time to consider focusing on related aspects of project. Polish your selling skills and even consider working on proposals. Connect with your pricing team and learn how they price an opportunity. Learn how do they project the margins and how it impacts to overall organization’s topline. Connect with Legal team and learn how to word the contract. If you are feeling adventurous, then even push for outcome based contract. It would be great learning experience.
  3. Understand and learn digital concepts and figure out how they are impacting client’s business landscape. Since everybody (including clients/IT Outsourcers) is still learning on ways to apply digital skills, feel free to propose options to the clients. If it gets shot down, keep the learning and move on.
  4. Learn to code if you have already forgotten. Connect with developers/configurators and understand the nitty gritties of technology once again. Collaborate with professionals within and across companies and develop yourself. Attend out-of-work conferences even if your organization is not paying for it.
  5. Organization have a lot of learning/knowledge management tools now a days. Utilize them to an extent and learn about digital. Master digital lingo and use it in front of the clients often.

Finally, its time to invest in yourself. It is going to be huge learning curve and often its scary. It is also fun to learn again, like feeling the joy you had in early stages of your IT careers.

Some might even say that am too old for this or ship has already sailed away. Considering you are still showing up for work every day, you are still in the game.

Then, go for it, old man !!!