Scaling up Cost-effectively
Over the past few weeks, the coronavirus outbreak has made us realise how interconnected the whole world is. With an increasing number of cases of the deadly illness raising fears of a global pandemic among people, the impact of the shutdown across the world has started to hit the tech industry of the country.
At the time of writing, there have been more than 400,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with more than 21,000 deaths; along with more than 140 countries and territories have reported coronavirus cases, and the international stock market has witnessed the biggest dip since 2008.
While we are talking about the reeling impact of the virus on human life, the massive disruption in the analytics industry is also worth mentioning. According to Pravin Rao, Nasscom vice-chairman, also the COO of Infosys, the IT sector is going to see some indirect impact with the sudden outbreak of this global pandemic — COVID-19. In fact, economists have estimated that this virus outbreak could potentially reduce the global GDP by almost 0.3%.
This coronavirus outbreak is acting as a reality check of the fragility in the systems of doing business and the uncertainty associated with it. It has already caused significant disruption throughout the tech industry, with huge tech conferences and trade shows cancelled and companies expecting to miss their revenue forecasts. Additionally, the virus is shaking up business and consumer behaviour on a massive scale.
India: In the midst of a storm of job losses, pay cuts and deferred increments, a bunch of companies have held firm. Hindustan UnileverNSE 0.59 %, Asian Paints, Johnson & Johnson, HCCB, Flipkart, Myntra, CSS Corp, BharatPe, BSH Home Appliances and Inflection Point Ventures are among those that have chosen to hike salaries, make variable payouts and promote employees even in these tough times.
Compensation experts said while companies across the board are taking decisions based on business realities, the concern they display during the Covid-19 crisis will have a lasting impact on employee goodwill.
“In these unprecedented times, it is a great opportunity for organisations to lead with empathy and take care of their employees’ interest. We believe that giving pay hikes will help add certainty in these uncertain times,” said Manish Tandon, CEO, CSS Corp. The IT services company has paid out increments and variable pay to its 7,000-strong workforce. At the lower bands, which constitute 70% of the workforce, the variable payout was 100%.
“It’s our job to keep the morale of employees high in these uncertain times and give them a sense of security,” says Neeraj Bahl, MD and CEO, BSH Home Appliances. While the firm cut marketing and travel costs and initiated a hiring freeze, staff were given increments and promotions went ahead.
‘Moves More Company-specific’
‘Paying scheduled salary increments and variable payouts is especially significant now, given the sheer number of companies that have gone in for salary cuts and layoffs in the past month or two. Many are struggling to retain jobs and current levels of remuneration.
“We took the decision of not cutting salaries or laying off people because, while the macro trends were looking weak starting March, we are a people-first organisation and believe that when we put people first, our people make things happen for the organization,” said Inflection Point Ventures CEO Vinay Bansal.
The likes of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Wipro, PwC India and Infosys have deferred hikes. Reliance Industries, Oyo Rooms and TVS Motors have cut salaries while Ola, Uber, Zomato and IBM are among those that have fired employees.
It’s hard to see a pattern in the hiring and firing, with some IT majors holding on to staff and others shedding underperformers and not replacing them
Mass layoffs in the IT sector have been happening for the past few years but now – blame it on the pandemic – it seems to be accelerating. An uncertain business environment, lack of projects and investments, and non-performers are the contributing factors. Many IT firms have been hinting at mass layoffs, leaving employees in fear of when it will be their turn to leave.
Most likely to receive a dismissal notice are employees on the bench. These employees are not allocated to any projects and are a resource backup in case a new project comes along. They are considered to be ‘non-billable’ resources, as their cost is not billed to any clients, making them the most vulnerable to layoffs.
Here’s an overview of how IT companies operating in India are looking at layoffs and hirings.
India’s highest paying tech jobs and the skills that rake in the big bucks
Cognizant Technology Solutions’ April-June financial report shows around 9,000 employees were laid off during the quarter, more than chose to leave the company voluntarily. Around 68 percent of Cognizant’s workforce are based in India.
Cognizant didn’t blame the lay-offs on the coronavirus though, saying that the headcount reduction was part of its “Fit for Growth” program, announced last October, which aims to reskill, reassign or remove underperformers. This will see the removal of 10,000 to 20,000 mid-to-senior level associates from their current roles, with half of them reassigned internally and the remaining employees eventually terminated.
There have also been departures at the top at Cognizant: Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, chairman and managing director of Cognizant India, and Pradeep Shilige, global delivery head, have left with no replacement named, while Chief Financial Officer Karen McLoughlin will be replaced by Jan Siegmund.
IBM too has resorted to layoffs to reshape its business amid the pandemic. It plans to fire 2,000 employees globally over non-performance, a few hundred of them in India where around 33 percent of IBM’s global workforce of 350,000 are based.
Wipro has not laid off any employees as a result of the pandemic, nor it will lay off anyone in the near future, Chairman Rishab Premji assured attendees at Wipro’s annual general meeting. Wipro’s employee attrition rate was 13 percent for the 12 months to end June, the lowest it has reported in at least 20 quarters. However, it is not replacing all staff that leave: in the April-June quarter its headcount dropped 1,082 to 181,804, after dropping 4,432 in the previous quarter.
While there have been economic headwinds across the industry, CSS Corp has been able to weather the storm with its vertical-focused strategy. “We onboarded over 1,200 new employees in the April quarter when the pandemic was at its most disruptive level. We continue to hire in Q2 and our hiring outlook remains stable in the coming months,” said Sunil Mittal, EVP at CSS, referring to the company’s second fiscal quarter, from July to September. “As part of our learning and development plan, we are continuing to roll out upskilling and re-skilling initiatives across the organization, especially towards digital technologies,” he said.
Indian IT services company TCS has also said it will not cut any jobs as a result of COVID-19. TCS saw the onboarding of 12,000 fresh graduates in the April-June quarter, with 18,000 expected to join in the June-September quarter. TCL reported an attrition rate of 11.1 percent in its IT Services business for the twelve months to the end of June, lower than its rivals.
CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has won two Silver Stevie® awards at The 17th Annual International Business Awards® under the Covid-19 Response Category. The two Stevies are for the “Most Exemplary Employer” and the “Most Valuable Corporate Response” subcategories. The company was honored for its valiant work over the past months to keep people safe, healthy, employed, and informed. CSS Corp’s exemplary response during the pandemic stands out for ensuring the well-being of communities, customers, and employees.
The company was recognized in two COVID-19 response categories- Most Exemplary Employer and Most Valuable Corporate Response of the year. The company received these awards for its strong people focus that upheld employee satisfaction while enabling business continuity and progress during these unprecedented times.CSS Corp showcased resilience, determination, and fortitude, being one of the first movers in the industry to transition to a 100% productive work from home model at the onset of the lockdown.
The company’s proprietary resilience framework – takes a three-pronged approach, which emphasizes preparedness, stabilization, and embracing the new normal. Despite the challenges posed by the situation, CSS Corp mitigated the challenges and rolled out annual increments, variable pay, and promotions for its workforce in 2020.
CSS Corp’s employee-first culture is built on empowering its employees and boosting their morale and productivity, while constantly ensuring that they are safe and secure, amidst growing uncertainty.
The company’s industry-acclaimed CHEER framework devised specifically for the current scenario placed emphasis on communication, recognition, and engagement as the pillars to support, strengthen, and safeguard employees.
“CSS Corp has always been committed to its people on its journey towards setting new industry benchmarks. While the world was facing an unforeseen pandemic, we made it our mission to ensure that our employees are taken care of. With that in mind, the initiatives and policies devised with specific emphasis on navigating through the current scenario further strengthened our people’s focus and fostered growth within. We are proud to be recipients of the Stevie Awards, as a reflection of the satisfaction and hope that we are striving to drive for our employees,” said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp.
It’s a no brainer – cyber security is a critical issue.
But top leadership teams at many organizations had been overestimating their strategic cyber security capabilities until the COVID-19 crisis hit the world.
The global pandemic, exacting a terrible economic toll worldwide, caught most businesses off guard and has had a downstream effect on security teams of most organizations.
It exposed that only a few companies worldwide had strong cyber security preparedness to combat the increasing number of cyber attacks, triggered by the rapid shift in work patterns on an extremely abbreviated timeline and operating model. Companies are today exposed to an exponentially higher number of threat surfaces and vectors resulting from remote delivery of work.
According to Atlas VPN, the number of breached records in the first quarter of 2020 hit an all-time high of 8.4 billion, a 273% surge from the same period in 2019.
Just Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) or Current Reality?
COVID-19 has accelerated businesses’ transition to a digital future with data moving to cloud. Many global business leaders at World Economic Forum, held in July this year, warned looming of a potentially dangerous cyber pandemic that is likely to result due to rapid and unplanned move.
Dave Bartoletti, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester says: “In general, we expect companies to expand their use of public cloud, contract their spending on building private clouds and shift their hybrid balance to be greater on the public cloud side. This shift was already underway; the pandemic will accelerate it.”
Where Should Businesses Prioritize?
The COVID-19 crisis has refocused strategic priorities of businesses towards the value of cloud delivered security and operational tools.
A solid cloud security plan is central in protecting an organization’s assets and reputation. Security and risk management leaders must now commit to new, emerging cloud security trends to optimize business value and eliminate risks.
• Review the Security Needs of Your Remote Workforce: It is recommended that you evaluate your unique business needs and the data and applications usage of your workforce to assess if any security measures need to be prioritized.
• Eliminate Mundane Tasks with Security Process Automation: It automates security operations tasks based on predefined rules and templates and performs tasks faster and at scale. It saves significant time for businesses to focus on more critical security projects.
• AI to Augment Human Decision Making for Driving Digital Business Initiatives: As more companies adopt cloud computing, many struggle to handle the increasingly complex environment – constituted by the sheer volume of devices, users, and applications.
AI/ML technologies can be integrated into cloud access and application security and network and gateway security to protect digital business systems, improve security defense, and enable automated investigations and accelerated reactions. These technologies build an air-tight system that can take businesses’ cloud security game to the next level.
• Risk-based vulnerability management: It’s recommended that businesses focus on automating infrastructure build out first to significantly reduce the scope of security errors, continually checking instances across the environment and leveraging threat intelligence and asset criticality to prepare a 360-degree view of risks organizations are vulnerable to and a mitigation plan.
The Borderless Enterprise is Here to Stay
We are over 9 months into the COVID-era now. Many businesses are still playing catch up to optimize their remote work experience, according to Infoblox.
Over 90% of decision-makers consider digital transformation and cloud-managed services a priority. Organizations can deploy cloud in multiple ways for communications, brand building, reducing costs and increasing customer acquisition.
A trusted cloud services advisor has the expertise to enable enterprises to take a proactive step towards ensuring safe and secure cloud computing environments while maximizing their ROI and brand image through a managed services model.
Top cloud services organizations today are shepherding many Fortune 500 companies through the process of cloud consulting or cloud migration, and building IaaS and PaaS solutions which can co-exist, on-premise or on the cloud enabling greater operational flexibility.
It is critical to choose a DevSecOps partner, that can help organizations go-to-market faster, improve team productivity and efficiency, detect defects in early stages and build highly stable and secure products.
AI-driven, multi-spoke cloud operations can have businesses covered from provisioning through disaster recovery, giving them lowered TCO, higher ROI, agility, real-time scale, and availability.
In these times, it is important for organizations to have a Zero Trust framework that moves each of their perimeters to every network, user, and device within and outside their company to prevent leaks of their protected data and reducing the risk of increasing cyber attacks.
It is important to act now than regret later.
The Union Budget 2020 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a quantum leap, calling data as the new oil and allocating a substantial sum for development of quantum technology in the country. In her address, Sitharaman said the new economy is based on innovations that disrupt established business models.
“AI, IoT, 3D, printing, drones, data storage, quantum computing etc are all rewriting the world economic order,” she said.
Are these initiatives enough for Narendra Modi government’s target of turning India into a US$5 trillion economy by 2025? Tech experts and analysts look somewhat optimistic.
Making a Quantum jump
One of the most significant announcements was the Rs 80 billion outlay over the next five years for the National Mission of Quantum Technology and Application.
Nishant Singh, Head of Technology and Telecoms Data at GlobalData, says: “The announcement is significant as the scale of investments necessary to make headway in quantum computing is not possible without the support of the government or large corporations. The quantum computing race already has stiff competition, with companies like Amazon, Google and IBM in the fray; the Indian government’s move should boost the attempts of domestic technology providers, who have been keen to enter this field, but so far did not have the necessary scale or resources.
“From the government’s perspective, quantum computing and its related applications will have significant implications for India’s digital citizen initiatives in healthcare, smart cities and research. For the wider technology sector within India, it would mean attaining indigenous capabilities in quantum technologies, which they can leverage commercially.”
As the demand for data science jobs keeps growing, the supply of meritorious candidates is not keeping pace. According to a study we conducted in 2019, around 97,000 data science positions were available to be filled that year alone. It is a travesty then that despite the demand, companies face a lot of challenges when hiring for these positions, and CSS Corp is no different.
However, despite the struggle, the company has managed to attract and retain a significant portion of this talent. Credited largely to its stringent and unique hiring practices, CSS Corp has overcome the challenge of sourcing that small proportion of data scientists dispersed across the nation.
“Being a new-age digital services provider in the B2B space, we pick candidates who have that extra slant for AI, analytics, and automation, instead of the usual coding or testing skills,” says Brijesh Balakrishnan, SVP & Delivery Head – Digital Engineering Services and GIS, at CSS Corp. “In short, we map a career for those who have the inner thrust to learn and grow,” he adds.
So who would be the ideal candidate for a data science position at CSS Corp?
“We look for candidates with a knack for thinking logically and analytically toward solving business problems,” says Balakrishnan. “It’s about fresh thinking, not clichéd answers. An ideal candidate would be one who balances technical forte with soft-skills, right attitude, and personality in a team setting,” he adds.
Amid widespread layoffs and pay cuts, some companies are bucking the trend, Economic Times reports. Hindustan Unilever, Asian Paints, Johnson & Johnson, Flipkart, BharatPe and CSS Corp are among those that have given salary hikes, made variable payouts and even effected promotions. Experts say companies with a strong cash-flow buffer seem better positioned to give increments or bonuses. Firms such as TCS, Infosys and PwC India have deferred hikes while Reliance Industries, Oyo Rooms and TVS Motor have cut salaries.Amid widespread layoffs and pay cuts, some companies are bucking the trend, Economic Times reports. Hindustan Unilever, Asian Paints, Johnson & Johnson, Flipkart, BharatPe and CSS Corp are among those that have given salary hikes, made variable payouts and even effected promotions. Experts say companies with a strong cash-flow buffer seem better positioned to give increments or bonuses. Firms such as TCS, Infosys and PwC India have deferred hikes while Reliance Industries, Oyo Rooms and TVS Motor have cut salaries.
Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], Aug 10 (ANI/BusinessWire India): CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has been recognized as a leader across all four market segments in NelsonHall’s NEAT vendor evaluation for CX services in telecom and media sector.
The report critically evaluated the performance of 17 global customer experience (CX) service providers, against a structured two-axis dynamic model on their ability to meet future client requirements and deliver immediate benefits.
CSS Corp’s offerings are built on five essential pillars of customer support, i.e. end-user experience, agent experience, systems, CX analytics, and process automation. The company provides best-in-class services, leveraging their home-grown Digital Contact Center 2.0 suite of solutions with integrated modules like augmented reality based CXM, mobile assistant, cognitive chatbot, self-service, knowledge base management, smart routing, sentiment analytics, agent 360 and team lead dashboards and over 100 cognitive and RPA-based processes.
These factors make their offerings highly dynamic, adaptable, and customizable; hence fit seamlessly into any customer environment, resulting into desired business outcomes.
NelsonHall’s report recognizes CSS Corp’s technology capability in integrating their platforms to the customer environments by harnessing the power of disruptive technologies that maximize customer experience and accelerate digital transformation.
“There is an increasing need for organizations to provide seamless customer experience and support while mitigating risks and demands. Over the last couple of years, our innovative value propositions in the Hi-Tech CXM arena have enabled clients to embrace the power of technology-led and outcome-focused services and drive CX transformation. We are proud to emerge as the chosen partners for our clients in their journeys to provide simplicity, consistency, and customer-centricity at every touchpoint. NelsonHall’s leadership recognition corroborates our proficiency in delivering powerful combinations of our indigenous digital solutions and managed services to provide customized offerings to our customers,” said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp, while speaking on the recognition.
“Digital technologies have disrupted the current CX landscape and clients now look for a partner to help utilize them efficiently. CSS Corp is leveraging transformational CX capabilities across the telecom and media segment. The company’s approach towards delivering mature and differentiated commercial models to support digital transformation with a portfolio of outcome-based contracts is the foundation to build next-level CX,” said Ivan Kotzev, CX Services Lead Analyst at NelsonHall.
This NelsonHall Vendor Evaluation & Assessment Tool (NEAT) analyzes the performance of vendors offering CX services. The NEAT tool allows strategic sourcing managers to assess the capability of vendors across a range of criteria and business situations and identify the best performing vendors overall, and with a specific focus on CX improvement, revenue generation and cost optimization.