Shweta Gugnani Kapoor, in her role as Global Director of CSC, works with the Office of CIO and she is responsible for running IT Strategy, Governance, Portfolio, Communication and Org Change Management for global CSC IT. She has established from zero base a strong policy and process for Portfolio Management which evaluates projects from ideation stage, through to funding, approval, execution tracking up to transition to Service Management.
Directionally, we are moving rapidly towards experiential optimization. In every industry around, the already arrived need is to improve the experience across all touchpoints – whether with customers, with employees or with communities. Any leader who wishes to make an impact must provide continuous experience delight. To power these experiences, companies are working to build seamless data banks, analytics capability to interpret this data and build multiple channels to touch their target audience. Another big wave that is gaining momentum is personalized B2C marketing. Tapping potential mindshare is no longer about broad-brush marketing; it is a tailored assessment of how share of wallet per individual can be redirected. Companies are investing heavily in marketing technology that helps them go down to the individuals and help them make loyalty choices or collateral purchases (buying products in the same value circles).
Challenges in Recruiting Indian Talents
The Indian talent pool has the superlative ability to quickly adapt to industry requirement waves and as such provides a very strong advantage to companies recruiting. Having said that, globally education is going through a re-think. How often does a new recruit start employment and wonder what use he put his/ her studies to? So, there is a strong learn-on-the-job phenomenon across many roles.
Recruiting in India very often helps acquire generalist skills. For value generation however, deep specialist skills are better suited. Often, only on the job learning creates the high skill resource but at a high cost. With more availability of specialist skills at entry levels, India could be a more attractive destination for value-based job roles.
Given the pace at which industry is moving towards digital and artificial intelligence, we have a strong need for education to provide business understanding and equip students with skills to deploy this appreciation through technological intelligence.
Skills Required Survive in Today’s Industry
Education performance is only one metric of a student’s potential to perform. Between a higher graded fresher and one with higher ability to work out-of-the-box, I would prefer the latter.
In today’s context, companies must consider three key skills:
- Does the candidate have a good business understanding supported by technical competence or vice versa (strong technical capability supported by business appreciation)? Being digital natives, coding in Python & languages of the now, working with BI, chatbot development have now become as necessary as the 3R’s of yore.
- Can the candidate hold up to aptitude tests? Assessing potential recruits for their ability to work with unknown set of variables; perform under stress; think out-of-the-box would come extremely handy.
- Does the candidate have the appropriate soft skills to support careers in corporates/ startups? Key among these are teaming and collaboration skills. Are his interpersonal skills and linguistic abilities appropriate for the role?
Opportunities for Fresh Graduates
Technology is an industry that thrives on fresh graduates. Not just because of the cost proposition, but also because there is a continued need for infusion of new skills, newer abilities. There is a strong need for fresh graduates in all areas of cloud, analytics and data scientists, robotics and AI, blockchain. Along with these, there is a need to build a workforce that is able govern and secure this evolving technology landscape. So cyber & digital security is an area of huge need.
Some trends are gaining momentum and here skills supply is grappling to keep pace with the demand.
Precision technology is finding uses in multiple industries specially in healthcare. Marketing technology is evolving to better engage the end customer and Martech/ Adtech are also opportunity spaces in IT companies that support healthcare, hospitality, retail sectors. Money tech or the codification of money has been gaining strength for a while now. No longer does anyone carry money in the wallet, now just tap and transact, swipe and pay. Another certain area of focus is Digital Cities. So, Digital town planning and urban infrastructure management is quickly becoming very relevant.
How to Keep the Employees Engaged and Motivated
Just as companies are going all out to delight customers, it is as important to be a workplace of choice to delight employees. Some of the most crucial engagements with our employees is when they are hired or when they retire. At both events, it is extremely crucial to have processes that simplify and provide the employee a comfortable experience. As a new joiner comes in, seamless integration within a company allows HR, Finance, IT, facilities to work together and have his welcome pack ready with his email ID/ access set up, space allocated and so on.
Recently, there have been Virtual Reality tours set up for new joiners to tour the company beyond geographic borders, meet the leadership and get inducted into the culture and values of the company. This in fact has been so successful, even existing employees are signing up. Unlike the impersonal induction packs or leadership sound bites on intranet, VR technology is allowing people to literally roam the Global HQ, have a tete-a-tete with some leaders, observe a client interaction or even join in on the monthly birthday celebration of the team counterparts in California office.
Supporting this, is the backbone of end user services – technology that allows employees to more efficiently conduct their daily jobs. Collaboration tools for communication; teaming technology for program management across virtual teams; strong and standard processes across payroll, performance appraisal and so on. Employees who feel fairly treated are able to deliver the job roles they are in. Employees who have visibility to the company’s vision & successes, and growth opportunities for themselves are likely to be more engaged and motivated to perform.
The Road Ahead in Talent Acquisition
So far, many companies created pyramids by fresh hiring, typically going to colleges to hire graduates. As talent sourcing is developing and digital technologies are enabling in-source and co-source models, many companies are finding pockets of skills within the company/ partner eco-systems. Given the virtual collaboration technology option, talent can be sourced from any location too. So, in some ways, while talent pool has increased, it is also a great opportunity for talent in India to find roles and opportunities with global projects.
Incidentally, many large IT organizations and large IT captives have their own university/college where fresh hires are inducted and trained for the specific roles that they will be employed in. This shifts weightage of talent acquisition parameters from technical expertise to competence and aptitude.
Advice to the Students
Since a large number of careers of the future are technology driven businesses; Fintech, Agritech, Precisiontech, Paymentech and many more. I would advise students who pick any area of interest to specialize and work also on automation technologies around it. Developing a core industry understanding gives a strong business appreciation, but enabling technologies are a certain future. For students in technology, coding the new codes, digital technologies around data, Analytics, cloud, robotics are inevitable skill needs. As important also is the need to have a business understanding and customer/ client centric approach. Technologists of today cannot afford to build technologies to which the world adapts. They must be agile, directed to business outcomes and have to provide delightful user experience.
Another key advise from me is to stay a student. It was always a valued skill but now more than ever, this will help keep you relevant. Just passing out of college and getting the dream job no longer provides a career. Skill asks are ever evolving and it is as important to keep in tune with this evolution. Re-skilling is not a bonus, it is a necessity to continuously upskill, reskill and multi-skill. Careers are no longer linear and so use the talent cloud to stay aware of newer opportunities and gain skills that align with emerging demands. Last food for thought advice – a big brand no longer represents the last word in innovation, given the start-ups and incubations the world over. So, choose your employer wisely – check for the services they provide, how those have evolved in the recent past, investments that company has made in new age technologies/ industries, what are the key skilling and innovation opportunities you have access to. Make these factors as much a part of the placement assessment to find the right place for beginning your career. (As told to Sarath Shyam)