Automation unlikely to dent IT services job
Experts feel only seven out of 100 tasks have been automated, and that’s not risking too many jobs.
Use of RPA across various ranks has often created new job roles, but companies see increased need to retrain employees to fill those positions.
RPA firm Automation Anywhere said major tech services and BPM companies are seeing 5-7% automation of their processes across finance, accounts and HR functions.
UiPath, another RPA major, said the percentage of automation would vary, and could be higher than single-digits in some cases.
The $177 billion IT-BPM services sector employs nearly 4.1 million people and has renewed hiring in large numbers with a stronger focus on emerging technology skills.
Wipro said work done by bots in fixed-price projects has gone up from 11% in the fourth quarter of the previous fiscal year to 15 % in the first quarter this year.
“In the fourth industrial revolution, automation is becoming existential. We strongly believe that humans and automation will co-exist. As automation moves from low-end repetitive tasks to higher-end decision-making, we are up-skilling our workforce to take on roles in emerging areas,” said Bhanumurthy B M, chief operating officer, Wipro. So far, automation of processes across services companies has created more roles, and loss of jobs primarily due to automation may be negligible, analysts said.
“When automation happens across L1 and L2 (junior roles), then the L3 (mid-to-senior) requirements are increasing. Once certain roles become redundant, people will be redeployed in the new roles,” said Vishwakumar Nandagopal, Head of India Operations and Regional Controller for APAC at ISG, an IT research firm. For example, teams will be required to work on massive amounts of data and intelligence generated out of the RPA systems, and also to manage and support them, Vishwakumar said.
“We may see some need for retraining, and those people unwilling or unable to be retrained may lose their jobs. However, as the new jobs carry higher wages, we see most employees eager to make the transition. When we combine this with a shortage of talent onshore offsetting the desire to relocate work offshore, we do not expect significant job loss in the near future,” said Peter Bendor-Samuel, chief executive officer, Everest Group, a Silicon-Valley based IT advisory firm.
IT services companies believe certain tasks will be inter-dependent even after automation, and people will have to engage in more intelligent work.
“To a large extent, this kind of automation may not result i n involuntary attrition in most organizations,” said Kumar Visvanathan, Head of People Shared Services at midtier IT services firm Mindtree.
If certain tasks are completely automated, that would result in people moving up the value chain with different job responsibilities, he said. “The challenge is not job losses, but effective utilization or redeployment (of employees).”
Tech Mahindra, however, has not ruled out job losses in certain roles and said it was focusing on re-skilling to help employees.
“The new-age technologies like Robotic Process Automation will also enable innovative outcome-based commercial
models, leading to improved margins. Loss of jobs has been a concern since the advent of new-age technologies. While this may affect certain roles, ultimately it will create more highskilled jobs that require enhancement and maintenance of these automation technologies,” said Ved Prakash Nirbhya, Chief Information Officer, Tech Mahindra.