Infosys COO Pravin Rao has warned that BPO processes could be fully automated in the future, a stark prediction that could potentially impact millions of jobs in India.
Infosys, India’s second largest IT company, on average “released” about 2500 workers every quarter due to automation, Rao said.
Rao was speaking on the sidelines of Indian IT industry lobby group – NASSCOM’s (National Association of Software and Services Companies) annual event in Mumbai. His statements reflected the theme of this year’s event – Reimagine, not re-engineer.
In fact, the event largely downplayed geopolitical risks and instead focused on sweeping changes knocking on the doors of Indian IT due to automation, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.
Indian IT, including BPOs (Business Process Outsourcing) employs about 3.7 million people.
India is home to vast number of call centres that provide back office services to companies in the United States and Europe.
“The current way of doing BPO is one which you can do 100 percent automation over a period of time,” Pravin Rao, Chief Operating Officer, Infosys told BOOM’s Govindraj Ethiraj in an exclusive interview.
“BPO has to reimagine itself, you have to do something dramatically different in BPO because what you are doing today will automate, whether you like it or not, in the next 3,5,10 years kind of thing.”
Rao explained that lower-end software services could be eliminated by pre-empting problems such as an application not working because the database was full.
In such an instance, IT companies would create a solution where the software automatically detects when the database is nearly full and creates additional disk space thereby eliminating the need of raising a ticket or service request with an IT worker to do the same.
“Today technology has matured in such a way that wherever you have a problem and if there is a single solution, it is possible for you to automate,” Rao said. Infosys employs over 199,000 people globally according to its website.
Rao’s sentiment is echoed by others in the Indian IT space who believe over half of the IT workforce will have to be re-trained and re-skilled. Companies like TCS and Infosys are already speaking about training employees to create value-added services.
Srinivas Kandula, India head of Capgemini in a panel discussion at NASSCOM last week said Indian IT would witness the largest unemployment among mid to senior level employees.
Worryingly, Kandula also added that 60 to 65 percent of Indian IT workers were not trainable as companies hired sub-par engineers and training budgets were slim.
Indian IT is witnessing seismic changes with possible tougher immigration laws in the US, clients world over slashing spending and newer disruptive technologies threatening the business.