The fact that last June, IBM held its annual investors’ day in Bangalore rather than in New York — three decades after it had left the country — is a testimony to the mindshare of the Indian IT industry across the globe.
The Indian IT growth story continues unabated and it is widely believed that there is significant potential still untapped. On the one hand the global sourcing phenomenon will continue to expand in scale and scope. On the other, the Indian economy is on a growth spurt and as Indian companies expand and globalize the domestic requirements of IT will expand manifold.
Companies, large and small, global as well as Indian, are rushing to invest in the Indian IT industry both financially and in terms of people. According to Nasscom in 2005-06, the export growth of Indian IT software and services was 32.6 per cent last year, above their own targets of 27-30 per cent; while the domestic market grew at 29 per cent — these are very impressive numbers even in a high growth phase. Lakshmi Narayanan, the new chairman of Nasscom, has been quoted as saying that the single most important long-term challenge for the industry is that of ensuring sustained availability of employable talent.
All of this means that career opportunities in Indian IT will continue to grow. Within the broad ambit of the IT industry, one can target a career in areas as varied as software application development, infrastructure support and technology support, testing, or those in embedded systems, enterprise applications, IT security, analytics, business and technology consulting, sales and marketing, hardware design, manufacture and support. There are also different technologies one can work with and different domains, ranging from aerospace to utilities from retail to railways and from infrastructure to insurance.
Given the fact that today business transformation is, more often than not, enabled by information systems it is clear that technology is now the primary enabler for change. As a consequence, IT professionals are uniquely poised to be seen as the leaders and facilitators of business transformation.
A combination of technology aptitude with project management and problem solving skills along with business knowledge are the key aptitudes that IT companies look for. Some of the other attributes that the IT industry looks for are logical thinking, good communication skills, high level of attention to detail, ability to multitask and to work well in a team. But ‘learnability’ or learning agility is the skill that the IT industry prizes more than anything else. The fast pace of technological change ensures that any specific skills one has will become obsolete sooner rather than later so to stay and prosper in this industry one must be prepared to keep learning, to be self motivated, to look for opportunities to stretch yourself and improve.
While obviously there is a lot of variation in the job environment across the industry, what is probably common is that it is a pretty intense environment — fast paced and very execution focused. Most companies try to provide a stimulating work environment that challenges and motivates people. There is generally a strong accent on training and learning and most recently leadership development at different levels to continuously upgrade one’s skill and behaviors to keep pace with the changing world.
While the IT industry as a whole if very process driven, HR processes can be very variable ranging from the very primitive to the very sophisticated. What that implies is that one must be prepared to think ahead and plan and map one’s career —there is no guarantee that the organization will do it for you.
The author is principal consultant, Mercer HR, India.