Technology is being consumed in a very different way than it was done in the past and this is already changing business models
The size of the SMAC industry is just about 8-10 per cent of a $1 trillion technology industry globally. However, it will be about 30-40 per cent more in the next three to five years to $300-400 billion globally. In fact, my budget for SMAC has already gone up by 35 per cent. What is driving the trend? Survival. If companies don’t bring in new technologies, new business processes and change the way they are doing business, then they will not survive.
The way technology is consumed over the years has changed dramatically. This has led to a tectonic shift in the way business processes function. Earlier, business processes were segmented in a particular sector like retail or banking, which were mature and had clear-cut boundaries. Now, those boundaries are blurring thanks to the increased availability of mobile devices, Cloud and data apps.
Technology is being consumed in a very different way than it was done in the past and this is already changing business models as we speak. A banking major could become a retailer and vice versa as boundaries and businesses collapse. For example, Airtel Money is a bank while Airbnb is a hotel; in fact it is the largest hotel chain in the world. When iPhone arrived, it disrupted the business model of Nokia and we all know how that story ended. The consumption of the processes itself is changing and it is not just limited to the device.
These huge disruptions are creating a big impact on the talent pool. Now, you need more generalists than specialists. The new boundaries are blurring so rapidly that you need to understand the boundaries very well. You are getting back to an era, where people need to rethink and reposition the boundaries of their business or the business process itself. This has huge implications on the technology front. The computing power of a device is huge and it is bigger at the back-end, where I can put the business process and data together. Not only can I ask for different types of data, but also use the analysis of the data to help hasten the decision-making process.
Building skillsets for new jobs, talent mobility
If we look at India as a talent pool, in the 90s, the talent was focused on learnability. Most of the companies hired people, who had better learning skills and not necessarily the skills that were required to do the job as the industry itself was going through a learning curve. Post 2001, it was a question of creating specializations as processes were just being figured out and we just needed people to deliver in those positions. It all changed in 2008-09. In the last 10 years, there has been a focus on learnability as well as specialization as it is not just about learning but also doing the job well. From an Indian talent perspective, we are back in the 90s.
The SMAC industry will create new jobs and new skills. We will first need to scale it to the level of industrialization before looking at efficiency and that will happen over the next three to five years. In the job market, people need to re-skill themselves significantly. People who have been doing a certain type of work may have to completely change themselves to a technology professional like a data scientist, data analyst or information specialist. Reskilling will be entirely driven by the private sector. It would be great if the new government actually takes up re-skilling of the working population through education, but I don’t think it will happen in the near future.
Another major shift at the workplace besides the skillset would be increased talent mobility. Today people are able to work from anywhere. Through the various tools that are available, you can be as productive as you would be in office. That is going to be a big disruption in the way people have been functioning, especially in the technology industry. A lot many people are even being distributed, which also has an implication on the cost structures for the industry in a positive way. For example, if I were to work from a small town like Satara or Jabalpur and am as productive, then my cost structure would be different.
Is HR prepared for SMAC?
I can’t speak for others. But, we are very agile in our operations. We do a feedback cycle every three months, track sentiments and mood of the employees on a daily basis, gamified our HR processes etc. The way you run HR has to dramatically change and we believe that is the future. I’m sure other HR teams would also have to do things radically different from the past. 2008-09 was the year of transformation for business and information. There are pioneers who are doing it, some people who have caught on and some others who haven’t boarded the bus and will collapse.
SMAC will lead to the development of a smarter employee and a smarter company. People now are much more technologically savvy. A smarter organization means that you can deliver more with less cost and you have the skills to do that. It will also improve people’s lives better because as an employee you will manage your time in a much better fashion and companies will become much smarter and proactive in how we do business.
As told to Anu Babu Kurian