Union less wonders

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Perhaps none of the wealth generators in India’s growth story, are more important that the multitude of its IT companies, and the millions that they have enriched. Of all the success stories from Silicon Valley in the West to the Financial Industry in NYC, none stand out more with the great services, which these companies provide on a daily basis. In the highly competitive, dynamic, cutting edge, technically challenging work of running and delivering complex information technology solutions for its clients, these companies have stood out in their professionalism. They have grappled with some of the most challenging projects and delivered year after year and decade after decade, building on a flat world of communications and transparency.

Filling just the skill gap from retiring baby boomers, and the whole mainframe and Y2K deliverables, are now history, as these companies move into the new world of digitization, cloud computing, big data analytics and many other emerging new technologies. The reliance on their services is increasing and for the near term there are few alternatives even while the world and environment that they work in, is rapidly evolving and changing. It is a constant struggle to reskill their workforce, as new new things appear on the horizon like the Internet of things. If every device is going to be programmable, than there will also be the need for new software and analytics, to make it run smoother. The needs keep growing and the question is can these companies have the vision to move into this brave new world, or will they become dinosaurs like the mainframes and midrange and client server applications, which ruled the roost, and now are slipping into museums and history books.

A cloud literally and physically hangs over the future of these giants, and the future is hard to predict on who will evolve and survive, and who will fall by the wayside in this cruel new world. There are so many challenges and rewards available for the winners, that for them to imagine failure is impossible. Each one has to reinvent itself in a world of cheaper and ever more efficient service needs. The days of billion dollar multiyear deals are so yesterday, and we now live on quarterly and annual contracts which continue to squeeze more and more inefficiencies out of the systems. The competition for these new contracts is worldwide and more and more transparent, as multinationals and the biggest Banks, Insurance, Healthcare, Retail, Hospitality, Logistics companies have become much smarter, in how they plan and pay for resources. The business value of information technology lies in the automation of business processes, provision of information for decision making, connecting businesses with their customers, and the provision of productivity tools to increase efficiency.

There are no 9-5 routine jobs left, or if they are, they are rapidly shrinking. Corporations are downsizing and knowledge of their systems is leaving with them, as they retire or move out of the door. The outsourcing companies that are struggling to fill the void, are themselves challenged as key technical resources are in high demand, and continuously on the move. There is more data being created and stored and analyzed today, than at any time in human history, and it is growing exponentially. Machine learning, artificial intelligence and newer ways to replace humans is the new trend as anything that can be done systematically, reduces human error.  Robots work 24\7 without breaks and flawlessly ensuring quality and predictability.India’s leading IT companies are quite on the proposal by Tamil Nadu Labur and Employment Department Principal Secretary Kumar Jayant stating that the New Democratic Labor Front – IT Employees Wing (NDLF), that workforce is free to form unions, as reported by a leading daily on Thursday. The sad part is that these bureaucrats neither understand the industry or its needs. Instead of enjoying the growth and the employment being generated, they want to impose laws enacted in 1947 in a different generation and world. This industry grew because it went out and hired and trained its labor force, with no help from the government and even built its own infrastructure and human resource management systems, with no outside help from the state. Now that they are successful the politicians and bureaucrats want their pound of flesh. It will be the biggest mistake that can ever be made, as these are not public sector banks or the railways business, where routine processing by humans is key.

I can hear the giant vacuum that will suck the jobs from any State that tries to enforce this and even from countries, as this is a truly global world. These resources are increasingly more mobile, and need no office to work from. Without location constraints they are free to work anywhere, where a stable environment provided with power and connectivity. Free enterprise and ability to train and dynamically work, are the hallmarks of these companies as otherwise China’s State giants would have taken over a long time ago, just as they have done in manufacturing. India needs less labor laws, to meet tomorrow’s needs, and not enforcement of antiquated ones, from a non-industrial or non-service industry past. Hopefully saner heads will prevail and all such talk will be quickly put to rest and the union less wonders allowed to grow and succeed, in a modern world. It is a competitive world that can turn on a dime as they say, and survival is tough enough without any outside muddling. These deliveries are time critical and skilled where only the best and brightest succeed, and not a world of work stoppages or rigid laws, that bind and stagnate.

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