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Friday, February 5, 2010

IT: What's the future?

It was sort of spam - which triggered the idea!

Let me tell all of you in detail. I have recently switched to full-fledged comment moderation, as these spammers have really started becoming pain in my a**. Anyway, in one of these comment moderation phases, I saw this pseudo-spam. 'Pseudo' because although the comment was not at related to the post, it was not entirely rubbish. In fact it spoke about solar panels and how he had been able to manufacture one with little cost involved. I am not yet sure if there are scripts which could download malwares and spywares in my machine as soon as a single click was done, but the articles there made sense.

Anyway, he not given me any money to promote his site (and already I have been generous enough by publishing his pseudo-spam). So, lets leave the discussion right here.

However, just the other day, I was thinking about our huge IT industry. I am sure most of the bloggers come from that arena. Let me ask you an open question: How many of you think you would retire as an IT professional? Well, a frank confession from my end: I do not think so! The simple reason being, open your eyes, this industry is fast attaining saturation. Readers who think they are afraid, let me tell you, this will take another, say 10-15 years (minimum)... but this WILL happen.

Let me enumerate the reasons for you:

Short term effect:
The worldwide recession which hit the market in 2008-09. Although the markets are getting revived, yet the golden days are gone.

Long term effect:
The predominant factor why IT industries saw their boom in India and other south Asian countries was because of the scope of having the same work done through comparatively much lower wages. Various sectors saw IT as being an enabler to the competitive edge. Sadly, this no longer holds true. Today IT provides efficiency, but is no longer as effective in providing the competitive edge. I did read an article on similar lines from Harvard Business Reviews. Also check statistics of all IT majors and medium players and check how they had progressed in the 90s in terms of employee count, % year to year profit and how they are doing now!

There are counter-arguments to this. Innovation, thinking out-of-the-box can still help. As long as there is value addition, competition will thrive. From a technical perspective, suppose company A1 provides technical maintenance to a retail major B1 and company A2 provides the same support to another retail major B2. So, if the basics are same, work is mechanical, no value addition, there is no difference technically. However, if company A1 can provide an additional measure which provides capability of statistical forecasting, it could be something that even company B2 would be interested in. There comes the competition. So why do you say? IT is getting saturated - its merely an enabler, not an entity to drive crucial competitive edge?

Well.. true.. very true.. however, there are other factors to consider. In the initial years of globalization, India did not have too many companies investing here or ready to hire natives. However, the market was fresh and opportunities were galore, if one had the eyes to recognize. Big players cashed in. Even small and medium players saw their opportunities. But today, this is not so. With the rupee gaining steadily versus the dollar, the wages gave climbed up! Recession and unemployment have hit the Western world badly. There's large scale hue and cry as to why their own nationals are not being given jobs - why work is being outsourced.. Well, still, there's point in investing in our people... good skills for comparatively low wages! Great deal!

But the question is: How long? With China crawling in closer by the day and continents like Africa still unexplored by the biggies, there's more to come! India still has the advantage of housing the largest English speaking population of the world! But that advantage could fade away with our neighbor speeding up at remarkable pace.

So what next! Well, I would put my money on the industries for non-conventional energy sources - solar energy, wind energy, nuclear energy... all of these should take up and grow at a rapid rate. The conditions are favorable as well. With the fossil fuels degenerating and getting used up at an astronomical rate, this industry will experience an unprecedented boom in the coming years. It is a niche area as well and not many players are out there competing. The sector is more or less unorganized as well, specially in India.

So, friends: what are you thinking? Pour your hearts out and comment!

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