The other day when I was going through Abdul Kalam’s ‘India of my dreams’ I envisioned what a great role the IT sector has cut out for itself. I am excited at this juncture because I have the able authority in my hand to implement my dreams. I am the Managing Director of SumTotal solutions India, a Hyderabad based firm (of the US parent company) that supplies HR software solutions to companies. The HR software solutions industry is very niche in our country, for that matter HR in itself is, dare I say so for every organization nowadays has a separate HR department. But my points is that, how many companies will cross their hearts and say that they consider HR strategically critical for the growth of their business. Many company heads still believe that HR comes into play only when a person joins the firm, has trouble with the firm or wants to leave it.
One of the strengths of our economy, which also came to light during the past year, is the presence of a half billion strong literate workforce, complimenting the fact that a vast majority of this country’s population is young. What this means is, that such a huge population is continuously trying to work for a living and in trying to improve their lot, they are not only pushing up the per capita income of the country but also continuously thinking of innovative ideas thereby creating new business opportunities regularly.
Technology is booming with a lot of opportunities as of now. Although presently, use of IT application in India is much lower compared to China and far Eastern countries. Tele-density in India is only 2.6 per hundred compared to a world average of about 15. Lack of bandwidth, low speed leased lines and untimely servicing are some of the impediments that presently beset the IT sector. Unless our tele-density increases significantly, a genuine IT revolution would not be possible to usher in, in our country. The main hurdle in spreading IT and to increase the computer literacy base is the huge investment required to bring about the improvement. In our country, most people can’t afford to buy computers and only substantial investment can ameliorate the scenario in telephony, power and internet and provide a wider section of our society with its benefits. While countries like India have a telephone density of about 1.5 per hundred inhabitants advanced countries like US and Sweden report around 50percent homes with computers, phones and Internet connection. Despite all of the above we have many new sectors of technology that are brimming with talent from Biotechnology taking Indian agriculture to another level to Telecom with mobile users in India crossing the million mark, defying the economic class diversity that we have in India.
We have the largest number of Science graduates in our country. Looking back on the footmarks, India has indeed come a long way, with the IT sector contributing significant revenue share to the Indian government. Since the early eighties, IT awareness and related developments have been taking place in our country at a galloping pace. Many engineering colleges including IITs, RECs, IGNOU and many private computer training institutes started offering computer courses and thereby produced a huge number of IT specialists. The competence of Indian computer specialists have been since acclaimed universally and many of them were absorbed in high paying jobs in foreign countries mainly in the US, UK, Australia and a few others. But that was just the lull before the storm. The recent US slowdown and substantial job cuts for Indian IT professionals mainly in the US seemed to have acted as a dampener for IT enthusiasts. Nevertheless, things aren’t as gloomy as many Pundits would have us believe. Several domestic companies such as Hughes software and Wipro have posted excellent results even in the current financial year, comfortably exceeding market expectations.
We are soon going to establish ourselves as a global superpower in terms of our human knowledge bank because we Indians tend to give a lot of importance to Education. When Barack Obama cited his concern at not enough young Americans opting for Science and Maths, Indians have always made these two subjects their forte. These early seeds drive innovation’s giant wheels at a much later stage. Furthermore, they eventually drive business profitability and usher in better standards of living.
We have a huge talent pool in India. But what is required is smart patchwork to put the right person in the right job. That is exactly where we need best in class HR practices to effectively channelise this talent we have in India and leverage them for the best possible results. For every Indian doing well for him/herself in India is equivalent to India progressing step-by-step.
The attrition rate was rocketing, especially in the IT sector, given the spate of affairs the one time IT giant Satyam had to go through, there was utter chaos and confusion amongst the people employed within this sector which once guaranteed sure shot jobs. We had a beeline of clients who wanted HR advice and able products on how to manage their manpower and specifically lower down their attrition rates. My advice to them has always been one universal HR truth and that is “A stitch in time, saves nine” or maybe more in terms of big companies. HR should not come in the picture as and when you face crisis but should be in a proactive preventive mode should it any upcoming crisis arise. If the HR of such companies had not been in the hibernation mode (coming back from the slumber, only when a person joins or leaves the company) they could very well avert dooms day. The companies who adhered to this policy had no such employee trouble or did not have to undertake massive layoffs, thereby tarnishing their image in the market.
Given the current scenario wherein the Tatas have announced Succession plans across all levels and CEO Poaching becoming the name of the game with 84percent attrition rate in the past 10 months across the Senior management level of many top companies, the focus seems to be shifting towards best-in-class HR practices. HR as a force to reckon with on a daily basis is good news for us. We step into the new year therefore, very optimistic about the year ahead as well as our future in India.