The nearly 1.4 million mid-rung employees, who typically have 8-12 years of experience and earn Rs 12-18 lakh, are now at the centre of reskill and restructuring conversations happening across the sector.
That is because career progression in the IT sector has been for years measured in terms of the number of people an employee managed and not in terms of the new technologies learned, industry insiders and experts said.
"Every company pays millions of dollars to consultants to innovate because they think they are too big to innovate. Then these McKinsey and all come in and say, your middle management is broken. It's always the poor middle management that is broken,"
Also read: A techie and above 30? You are most likely to be fired
This disconnect is the crux of the problem, experts said.
"The middle management are the weakest link in the chain," said Milan Sheth, partner — advisory services & technology sector leader at EY. "The leaders are meeting clients, so they know about the change in (their) thinking. The bottom most guys adopt easier and learn. It is therefore, this middle management that is most difficult to change," he added.
As automation and digital technologies upend the normal way of doing business, the traditional structure is under strain. The changes are already being seen.
Roles that were typically assigned to employees with over 10 years of experience are now going to machines. For example, Capgemini is using IBM's cognitive consulting tool Watson to assign people to projects, while Infosys is building a machine-learning platform that will help project managers take decisions to make better trade-offs between the number of people needed for a project and the timeline for completion.
As a result, even as IT companies fight to retain their top talent, they are not very forthcoming in handing out pay hikes to mid-level employees.
A technology head of a European financial services captive in India told ET, "I have found that employees in India focus a lot on the designation, having-an-office and the trappings of the job, and were hands off about the technology as they grew. But it can't just be about managing people. In an agile environment, in a team everyone has to deliver."
He said he has started sending employees with less than a year's experience to the bank's home office rather than employees with five years of experience because the newer employees are coming up with better technology solutions.
This is something Indian IT firms, too, have started realising.
"People who are passing out as engineers today are all digital natives. They all are massive users of technology. Therefore, both of those put together — digital natives, more closer understanding of our client's business since they are also a consumer — is helping them ramp up very quickly," said Rostow Ravanan, CEO at Mindtree. "We also see that their ability to deliver results is also very high," he said.
Indian IT companies are spending millions to retrain their workforce. But human resource experts say the mid-level group, which has the most to lose, is also the most resistant to change.
64 Comments on this Story
ravi1366 days ago
There is a racism in IT industry in the middle management. Those having the highest from their community always gains and go ahead.This is largely concerning.
Sarita Pareek1456 days ago
These news circulates usually at this time when most of the companies will complate their appraisal cycle.
If IT companies change notice period to a month, therafter you will not see anynid-level competency crisis.
As mid-level is the most frustrated and looking for change and treated well.
sourabhnagar5484 1456 days ago
People with technical skills won't get impacted , only those who do people management going to suffer