IT’s past, present and future: Industry and people will always be important

Layoffs have nothing to do with Trump’s visa stance; its impact will show after rules are framed

There has recently been a lot of angst about the Indian IT industry (IT LAYOFFS). The anxiety has mainly centered around two themes. First: Is the $150-billion industry, which is about 7 per cent of Indian GDP, now heading for a period of stagnation? And second: The impact of the above and other global developments such as visa restrictions on the job market for IT professionals, considering that the industry employs 4 million professionals and indirectly generates many more jobs.

The anxiety tends to breed cynicism, as witnessed by the response to a question in the Economic Times of May 15 “Are laid-off techies paying the price for IT cos’ inability to foresee the future?” A resounding 78 per cent replied “Yes”.

Even more surprising is a mast head quote in the Business Standard of May 19 from Rajat Gupta, the former head of McKinsey: “The Indian infotech industry ‘rightly’ should be in ‘panic’ mode, as it has not kept pace with rapid innovation. Code writing-testing is the most inefficient industry that existed.”

I consider both the question and response to the ET question cynical because the persons who have been let go constitute mostly between 0.5 and 1 per cent of the workforce of the larger companies, and only in the case of Cognizant it is 2-4 per cent. All these numbers are within the range of annual “weeding out” to continuously improve the quality of talent.

Rajat Gupta, for whom I otherwise have the highest regard, in my view should have known that the IT industry moved beyond cost arbitrage at the turn of the century and has progressively embraced solutions around the latest technologies. This is reflected in the fact that Indian IT industry has continued to gain market share. Here we have decline in growth, whereas some of the global leaders have had decline in revenue for multiple quarters. |READMORE…

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