The key ability is to reorient
People have not become smarter because of SMAC but technologies are helping organizations to become smarter, agile, responsive and more accountable
The way the world is experiencing data both from the enterprise point of view and the user point of view has changed rapidly. The whole system is becoming democratized and decentralized and the sheer scope of work will completely transform the way in which we do business. From the mainframe era to the internet era and now to the SMAC era, we have entirely transformed ourselves. Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) currently contributes 10 per cent of the $100 million (These are 2013 figures) IT industry. This figure is expected to rise to 20 per cent, according to research by International Data Corporation (IDC), which predicts that the IT sector will grow to become a $5 trillion industry. The Indian IT industry is also projected to grow to about $200 billion, which is roughly 20 per cent of the global market size. As far as the industry is concerned, it is a huge transformation and SMAC will become mainstream in another six years.
But through this transformation, one thing has remained constant and that is the brick and mortar of the industry. Large development centers are still running businesses for their customers through mainframe and other applications. While the old and the new businesses co-exist, the proportion of new businesses (read SMAC) has gone up considerably. The new paradigm of doing business is mobile and social where we don’t know who the customer is, how they are going to interact with us, where the employees are etc. and this will change the basic way we are doing business.
SMAC and the talent market
Companies, which traditionally have a single-track focus, will find it difficult to do talent migration and mobility. The jobs that were there a few years back will no longer be in demand. For example, ERP implementation still exists and is very focused on few areas. But, that is no longer the ‘hot’ talent requirement in the industry. As you upskill or reskill, the ability of what you want to choose and do becomes much higher. Though I would still require people with basic skillsets, there will always be glamorous positions like data architects in analytics, which will become premium jobs. The organization needs to reorient and enable existing people to pick up these skills. I can’t keep on hiring people with new skills without figuring out what I would do with the existing set of people. From a talent perspective, it becomes imperative for both the organization and the employees to constantly reskill themselves so that there is a mix of both the old and the new. From the individual’s point of view, it becomes necessary for them to start gaining knowledge in these areas through certificates, internal training, centers of excellences, POCs etc. A one-focus approach will not help here. The paradigm has to shift to if “I want to succeed five years down the line, what do I have to do from now”?
Where will the talent come from?
It differs from company to company. For example, we are a SMAC company and we don’t really have any other business. More than 70 per cent of our business comes from this area. Since we are just three years old, we need to have people who have the ability to get onboard quickly and hence we look for people who bring in this capability either to win new business or execute new business. Majority of our hires currently happen through lateral hires, whereas if you look at some of the larger players, most of the new hiring (80-90 per cent) takes place through campus. The focus in the larger companies would be more on learnability as campus hires may not have the knowledge/skillsets that are required for the job because after a point you can’t really judge on the basis of their skills. The talent requirements of a particular company will depend on where the company is planning to source the talent and whether that skill can be learned.
The role of HR
The key requirement in the new paradigm is to help people understand that the world is changing and help them to continually equip themselves for the changing world. They should also help them to understand that after acquiring the skills, they need to grow better. The HR becomes the driver in terms of helping the individual to engage with the organization, to build more value in the new paradigm and add value to the organization while adding value to oneself. It is not just a question of policy administration, payroll or attrition management. It is engaging with the people to ensure that the future growth of the business becomes a common goal. We become very closely aligned to what the business requires. From a people point of view, if you don’t acquire new skills, your mobility will become a challenge. So, we have to keep the employees engaged, show roadmap for growth in personal and professional lives while growing with the organization. I don’t think technology alone makes an employee smarter. The reason why the IT industry is attractive is because you continuously have something to challenge you, something to learn. The industry itself has undergone some dramatic transformations in the past 50 years. People have always been smart. They have not become smarter just because of SMAC but technologies are surely helping the organization to become smarter, agile, responsive, customer-friendly, employee-friendly and more accountable. The key ability is to change yourself.
As told to Anu Babu Kurian