How redundant IT professionals can fuel Industry 4.0? (Can India leapfrog into Industry 4.0?- Part 5)

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others windmills !!!! -Chinese proverb

Our last blog generated enough debate and we found an increased interest from the IT industry professionals. We are glad that they are focusing on Industry 4.0.

The critical success factor for implementation of Industry 4.0 will be PEOPLE…. People well versed in both IT and OT. In our view, such a combination of skills is not readily available.

Industry 4.0 brings with it a new profile of shop-floor jobs and the employees of Smart factories of the future will have to be skilled in a combination of IT and OT.

There are two developments worth noting:

The 5 million strong Indian IT industry has hit a plateau and the growth is slowing down.

There is an increasing thrust on automation in IT which is making a lot of employees redundant and in many cases not only the lower levels are affected but even middle level managers.

The result- 50% of traditional IT Jobs will be wiped out in India by 2025 as per “The National Association of Software and Services Companies” (NASSCOM).

Industry 4.0 can be an excellent opportunity to IT industry not only to address the slow growth but also to redeploy the employees.

We are reminded of the time when the reengineering movement dawned and the era of ERP began in the early 90s. To a large extent the manpower which heralded the transition was from the redundant and knowledgeable users who brought in the process knowhow and the existing set of IT manpower which was primarily working on legacy Application Development. In fact there was a major “brain drain” of bright engineers of all disciplines from all other Industries to IT Industry, due to large differential in compensations and working conditions. Manufacturing industries being the first ones to implement ERP struggled hard to recruit and retain the best of engineers.

The time is ripe for “reverse brain drain”.

To remain relevant in this new scenario, CIOs will have to figure out, for their businesses, how to connect IoT to enterprise systems. In a recent Microsoft study, only 4 percent of IoT initiatives were led by IT personnel. Most CIOs steer clear of the “Operational Technology” and it is left for operations to fend for themselves with an external service provider or a very lean, leaderless ‘technician’ team. The key change for CIOs may be that their role changes from leading the IT delivery organization to leading the exploitation of the business assets of processes, information and relationships across all technologies in the enterprise — IT or IoT, whether delivered, supported, or managed by the formal IT organization or elsewhere.

From different languages to very different expectations of availability and support models, there is a significant and potentially damaging gap between IoT and IT that needs to be bridged fast.

New breed of IT resources are required to understand and know the requirements of both disciplines. If the resources are trained in one of the domains, it is relatively easier to train them on the other.

The specific languages and tools used day-to-day as a programmer change quickly, but the fundamental principles do not. Most IT professionals have moved from one language/technology to another. In fact IT professionals are unique in this as the pace of changes in the IT world far exceeds those in any other discipline. Good fundamentals and curiosity to absorb the domain knowledge can set up IT professional for a decades-long career.

Government and the Companies can support by providing suitable Training Institutes with relevant training content and more importantly opportunities for online “apprenticeship” through short projects, well-mentored by experts.

It is time for the IT professionals to don the new Avatar and pro-actively get trained on their own without waiting either to get displaced or to be side-lined for legacy maintenance. Fortunately, with plethora of MOOCs and other on-line training resources it is much easier for a person to acquire additional skills.

As Socrates said, the secret of CHANGE is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new!

Are you ready??

Are there any other measures to tackle this major “skill gap” and opportunity ? We would love to hear from you.

We had to change our topic for this blog considering the interest generated and we will focus on experience of countries in our next blog. We will continue our exploration of other challenges for Industry 4.0, in our forthcoming blogs.