Are You an Untouchable?

Date:   Friday , August 08, 2008

Just a year ago, IT manpower was in short supply and the demand was very high. Now, many of the employees see their positions treated like disposable equipment that can be kept or thrown out at will to help the organization survive.

We’re bombarded daily with stories of downsizings at tech companies. We should note that the rosy times are not going to return soon. Technology professionals should wake up and smell the (no longer free) coffee.

Employees shouldn’t be sitting in cubicles, fearfully thankful that they still have a job, while nervously reading this. Given the current economic conditions in the U.S. and the possible impact it can have on India, only people with right skills can survive. So what matters is not with whom you are working but what value you are adding to organizational growth.

As Thomas Friedman writes in his book World is Flat, “The key to thriving, as an individual, in a flat world is figuring out how to make yourself an untouchable.” ‘Untouchables’, in my lexicon, are people whose jobs cannot be outsourced, digitized, or automated.”

On a different note, I had recently been to a tribal belt in Karnataka. And guess what I witnessed there; almost everyone in the village had a mobile connection and were connected to the world for as little as Rs. 10 ! That’s innovation at the bottom of the pyramid. The telcos are making sure that they leave no stone unturned to seize the opportunity India presents today.

A young startup from Bangalore—mChek—has similar ambitions. It sees mobile bill payments as a compelling opportunity for India to not just catch-up with, but leapfrog the developed nations. It will be interesting to see how mChek is able to change the paradigm, especially as a large percentage of the newly added mobile subscribers doesn’t even have a bank account!

Do let us know what you think.

Pradeep Shankar
Managing Editor