July

World Youth Skills Day: How IT upskilling is the need of the hour for professionals

It can be an overwhelming situation for today’s aspiring young technologists. However, it is best to aware of why they should opt for upskilling in the present time.

July 15 is celebrated as World Youth Skills Day to recognise the young talent that are acquiring skills to boost their career. Especially, amidst the pandemic, more and more professionals and youth reskilled and upskilled to rule the market and gain access to the new-age job opportunities that are available.

The young talent is not only upskilling themselves to become better but they are also trying to be a part of the evolution. With this, skilled individuals can find employment opportunities in the market and policymakers.

Commenting on the upskilling for professionals and seekers, Vikrant Gupta, Vice President – HR, Global Markets and DTS, HARMAN said, “Observing the demand-supply gap in skills, several companies have adopted the hire-train-deploy (HTD) model, wherein campus recruits can be trained by subject matter experts in the organizations or even staffing firms on the exact skill requirements before deploying them with the clients or specific products/projects within a company.”

More and more youth are not embracing the path of innovation to come out as the major face with top-notch skills. Especially, amid the pandemic, the youth are actively upskilling to ensure that their future is secure.

Balvinder Khurana, Technology Principal & Global Data Community Lead, Thoughtworks said, “Going remote has presented young technologists with an opportunity for learning unlike before. The avenues range from video conferences to podcasts to virtual tech boot camps to one-on-one conversations with thought leaders – irrespective of physical location. Young technologists are participating in global conferences, opting for online courses and learning from industry experts.”

She named a few in-demand skills that the youth must look for as Data Structure and Algorithms, Data and Analytics, Security, DevOps, and Cloud.

Mahesh Zurale, Senior Managing Director, Lead – Advanced Technology Centers in India (ATCI), Accenture said, “The most important skill that technology professionals need today is the ability to continuously learn and adapt. A continuous learning mindset and ongoing investments is required to build technical and functional skills. Additionally, one should focus on developing skills such as intellectual curiosity, empathy, creativity and an innovation mindset that will be key to meet future role requirements.”

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Artificial Intelligence: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing the present scenario in the world. AI has the potential to drive a car, determine the nationality of a person through his handwriting, detect machine breakdown on listening to its sound and can produce 20,000 lines of copy in a second.

All in all, it will alter our day-to-day lives. As pointed out by CEO of Google – Sundar Pichai that artificial intelligence can become more vital than fire or electricity.

On the other hand, billionaire investor Ray Dalio remarked that it is a “two-edged sword.” It is boosting the productivity but eliminating jobs, which in the run will create gaps between wealth and opportunity.

From here we need to understand is AI just a robotic apocalypse or the fourth industrial revolution.

AI: Fourth Industrial Revolution or Robotic Apocalypse?
Artificial Intelligence is one of the key rising technology breakthroughs because it can transform the world in exceptional ways. AI and robotics can change the way businesses function and advance efficiencies and cost.

Arti Pande, Lead Consultant at ThoughtWorks said that putting it in simple words, AI will aid enterprises to make better decisions because intelligent tools will augment human capability with increased efficiency, precision and creativity. Arti further stated, “The critical argument is that the fourth industrial revolution will not cause unemployment but will evolve the quality and types of jobs. Humans will re-skill and equip themselves with new capabilities, compatible with an AI-powered workplace”.

As quoted by Professor Klaus Schwab in ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’, we are living in a world where technology is influencing the way we live, connect with systems, access information, leverage services, and relate with each other socially. And when used judiciously, this new technology – AI – will certainly boost productivity, operational efficiency and customer experience in enterprises, and can provide a platform for digital reach in societies. AI can be prevented from turning into a robotic apocalypse by putting adequate regulations, governance and sense of responsibilities in place, said Dr. Kiran Marri, VP- Solutions, Digital Engineering & Testing Services at CSS Corp.

Mahesh Nayak, SAP Labs India holds that with AI becoming increasingly ingrained into our lives, it offers a lot of promise, but can also be a double-edged sword. Gartner in a report says that by 2020, artificial intelligence will create 2.3 million jobs whilst eliminating 1.8 million. But, everything about AI so far has been about helping human minds to work better, not theirs. We can simulate perception, reasoning, planning, learning, creativity but at the end of the day this is pure simulation on our terms.

Thus, artificial intelligence is definitely the fourth industrial revolution, rather than a robotic apocalypse. It is faster, efficient and more widely accessible. Moreover, a plethora of opportunities has been ushered in, as AI can now handle complex tasks including Object detection, Speech and Face recognition, etc. We may expect AI to be increasingly capable of performing complex tasks, especially in areas of application with massive data sets, believes George Mundassery, Tech Mahindra.

 

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Skills that Fresh Graduates Need to Inculcate to be Job Ready, Industry Leaders Tell Us More

The COVID-19 pandemic and online learning have given rise to a demand for certain skills that fresh graduates need to have to be job ready

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change,” says a popular quote by Emanuel James Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker. This saying is now more pertinent than ever considering the situation at hand. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways one could never imagine. While some changes have not necessarily been favourable, others have been good. Nevertheless, this transformation, albeit forced, requires everyone to adapt in order to survive.

The new normal not only requires us to learn living in a certain way, but we need to also develop new skills in order to flourish. Times have been especially hard for students who have had to study and graduate online in the last year. Apart from the job cuts that various sectors had to undergo due to the pandemic, fresh graduates may be finding it hard to land jobs as the skills that they have developed could be obsolete for the kind of jobs that the IT industry now requires. However, it is never too late to gain these skills feels Mahesh Zurale, senior managing director, lead-advanced technology centers in India (ATCI), Accenture.

“The rapid adoption of digital technologies has not only led to an increased demand for digital skills in areas such as cloud, security, data, AI, and automation, but also for talent who are conversant with the new ways of working. The most important skill that technology professionals need today is the ability to continuously learn and adapt. A continuous learning mindset and ongoing investments are required to build technical and functional skills. Additionally, one should focus on developing skills such as intellectual curiosity, empathy, creativity, and an innovation mindset that will be key to meet future role requirements,” says Zurale.

Online Learning Has Its Pros and Cons, But Self-motivated Learning is the Key

Balvinder Khurana, technology principal and global data community lead, ThoughtWorks believes that a lot can be achieved through Self-motivated learning. “Online learning comes with its set of pros and cons. The exhaustive array of learning platforms sometimes misses out on important experiences that are available only with in-person learning. And, just as with most professional studies, engineering; the skill only gets better with peer-to-peer learning. Such learning is characterized by observing, interactions, and impulsive creativity that’s triggered by the communal learning experience – classrooms, on-site projects, internships, etc.

Another aspect that organizations will have to account for is the varying standards of quality for online studies. While the medium scores high on convenience, infrastructure (internet bandwidth), the structure of content, and the trainer’s effectiveness become much more relevant – else, it becomes an exercise in isolated self-study,” she comments.

“Today, the skills that companies are looking for, apart from obvious technical knowledge and skills, include excellent written and verbal communication. Listening is also a valuable skill especially in a virtual setting where one does not always have visual cues to go by. A firm knowledge of virtual collaboration tools, techniques, and best practices are also important, especially in settings that involve brainstorming, pairing on code development, etc. Self-motivated learning continues to remain as critical as it was in the mostly physical world,” she adds.

Flexibility, and Adaptability in Candidates are Important

The pandemic has given rise to work-from-home, which in turn has made it imperative for candidates to be flexible. “Technology companies look for candidates with a holistic approach towards problem-solving, strong fundamentals in logical reasoning, data structures, algorithms, sound programming, and coding skills. In addition, companies seek employees who are flexible, adaptable, and who proactively embrace future trends and drive disruptive outcomes. While there are no major challenges, we notice that the pandemic has restricted student’s exposure to practical situations, which in turn is limiting their articulation of problem statement and application thinking.  However, companies are making it up by introducing initiatives that provide employees with enriching experiences. Forward-looking organizations adopt agile, adaptable, and flexible policies to help their new hires, improve overall productivity, and build a culture of engagement, ownership, and accountability,” states Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP and MD, SAP Labs India.

Along similar lines, Sankalp Saxena, SVP and MD-Operations, India, Nutanix believes that a proactive mindset along with adaptability is a plus. “With multiple industries undergoing transformation, the next generation of innovators, artists and thinkers need encouragement and as many opportunities as organizations can provide. We’ve witnessed accelerated digital adoption since the pandemic, and as companies adapt their cloud requirements for the future, their staff skill requirements are also changing. Along with more application and software skills, a whole host of personal qualities will make individuals successful at anything they do – qualities such as a proactive mindset; adaptability in picking up and combining new skills, and an enthusiasm for learning. As hybrid work models become the new reality, cross-team functionality, collaborative working and the ability to communicate across a variety of time zones, teams, cultures and business units will increase in importance,” he notes.

IT Industry Requires Agility

Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, senior vice president, head of HR (Global) and corporate quality, CSS Corp, says: “India has a large workforce with skillsets that need to be honed and upgraded with changing times. Sixty-five percent of India’s 1.2 billion people are below the age of 35 years, according to the 2011 Census. While the demographic effect will increase or lower gross domestic product (GDP) by barely one percentage point in 2035, GDP levels can increase by about 3 percentage points in 2035 if India improves significantly on skill training, according to the World Trade Organization. It goes without saying that the need of the hour is training and upskilling the young workforce across disruptive technologies to make them more employable and align their skillsets with industry standards.”

He further goes on to add that: “With almost 18 months into the pandemic, we are already witnessing a paradigm shift in the way businesses operate. The pandemic has resulted in a greater demand for specialized skillsets to help enterprises evolve along with today’s myriad technological advancements. In the IT industry, with agility becoming imperative, custom development skills like JavaScript frameworks, AI/ML, cloud technologies like AWS, Azure and GCP, DevOps, AIOps, SecOps, and NoOps will go a long way.”

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Reimagining Consumer Experience for Telcos in the Era of Hyper-Convergence

Implementations of human-AI collaborations are being devised to maximize customer interactions.

The telecom industry is at the forefront of enabling best-in-class customer experiences. With large-scale changes in market environments and increased executive push towards digitisation, telcos are exploring new business models to create and capture value. The digital customer needs to be delighted and operators are leveraging new levels of personalisation at a scale never imagined before.Telecom firms are now analysing real-time customer data through smart algorithms to deliver personalised experiences concurrently to millions of customers. These experiences are seamlessly integrated into every customer touch point using AI, predictive analytics, and real-time feedback loops.With the dawn of the digital world, customers expect the experiences to have the following attributes:

• Context-aware: In today’s always-on connected world, customers demand agile experiences because of their changing needs and demands, telecom providers are expected to quickly adopt data-driven insights to map customer needs, know their interaction patterns, and engage with them by anticipating their requirements.

• Service extensions: To enable services like digitised wallets, media services, and custom utilities operators ought to be partnering with third-party service providers for broadening customer reach and relationships. Telcos are expected to be multi-service providers and develop platform driven solutions to ensure demonstrable advantages for the customer.

• Service centricity: Compelling value delivered through in-time quality service can be a key lever to be factored while designing customer retention strategies. Customers are also willing to get empowered with the tools and know-how to resolve service issues. Users are also expecting personal data confidentiality and wish to have complete control over it.

The need is clear. The industry has to transform its ways of interacting with the customers since they are expecting the same level of digital experiences given by other industry sectors.

 

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Here’s how CSS Corp reduced hiring cost by 50%

Rahul Joshi, CTO, CSS Corp, provides insights into how the company has managed to bring down the cost of hiring by leveraging automation and AI while hiring in huge numbers.

Automating the hiring process and TA process can help a business in several ways. Hiring in large numbers as the business scales and keeping the hiring costs controlled can be difficult when done manually. But the solution to this problem lies in modern-day technology.

CSS Corp cracked this problem and managed to bring down the cost of hiring by leveraging automation and AI while hiring in huge numbers.

“We have doubled our headcount in the past, which means that the number of people we were looking at or the number of resumes we were scanning were even more. So, the question was how do I hire these many people with a limited number of people in my TA teams, without exploding the cost of hiring,” Rahul Joshi, CTO, CSS Corp, said.

The company wanted to solve this problem not just by leveraging AI but by process optimization.

“When you hire a person within an organization, you scan between 80-100 resumes, select a few and present them to the hiring team. For the final one, you have multiple rounds of interviews. And someone in the TA team is doing these things manually. If we had to hire and double our headcount manually, it would not have been possible,” he explained.

CSS Corp was not just looking at traditional recruiting but also needed to look at social media and other places from where it could get good candidates. Solving this problem required the company to automate its system and make them learn with time.

“Let’s say A is a potential recruit of CSS Corp. So A will see an ad on his LinkedIn page. On clicking on it, he will see an automated test questionnaire. Based on A’s responses in the questionnaire, we will identify if he is the right fit or not. If he clears that automated test, he will be notified to go and attend the next round of interviews.” he said

“If A is being hired for a voice process, he will have to go through a voice test. The system has been automated to say if A will qualify for B2 in English and so forth. Similar benchmarking has been done with automation and AI. And the final interview will be done face to face,” he added.

Since the system can be played to and some tricks can be used to qualify the initial automated rounds, the company has set up another mechanism to avoid that.

“We do the automated tests and score matching because we know the system can be played to. You might say that you are a full-stack developer but in the test, you might have scored 10 on 100. So, the system knows now that you can not be matched to the profile. We have these kinds of checks and balances that are kept in mind when we design the systems so we don’t have biases,” he explained.

The majority of hiring in CSS Corp happens through resume scanning which flows in the system through various sources. To go through those resumes, the company has developed a cognitive search integrated with the internal system that identifies the right candidate. CSS Corp calls this system TAMS (Talent Acquisition Management System).

TAMS identifies the right resumes which flow into the systems and matches them to the resource requirements and then presents the top 10 resumes that the team can look at and call for interviews. This is being done with Microsoft Cognitive search and integration with other backend systems.

“The cost of hiring post covid has become half compared to pre-covid. I don’t need as many people to scan and go through resumes. Based on the information provided, and the intelligent learning of the system, the efficiency has increased so we have the ability to scale this up over the period of time,” he concluded.

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Driving superior customer experiences by transforming enterprise support

The B2B technical support sector has undergone a massive transformation in terms of services, knowledge, empowerment, and challenges. The increased adoption of new technologies like SDN, wireless networks, unified communications, and cloud-based networks have made providing support to huge numbers of connected devices a highly complex and surgical engagement. As a result, most technology vendors wait for years to see a return on their investment.

The truth is that while the technology on offer has evolved, the support side of things hasn’t quite kept up. Issues and challenges across the support ecosystem loom large over most technology enterprises, reducing their efficiency and limiting their ability to perform well.

What’s changed, and what hasn’t?

As technology has evolved, the balance of power has shifted away from technology vendors and towards the customer. A decade ago, enterprise technology deals often involved large components that required physical installation and commissioning by a technology vendor. While vendors made their money upfront and relatively risk-free, customers had to wait for their returns and were often forced to accept bad deals.

But with the advent of subscription-based technology services, the tide has turned in favor of the customer. Rather than paying for everything upfront, subscription-based services allow customers to spread costs out over time, which substantially limits their level of risk. Meanwhile, vendors are being forced to take on more risk than ever before, and often wait years to make good on their investments.

Naturally, under this business model, vendors are heavily incentivized to keep their customers happy across the entire support lifecycle. If they can achieve this reliably, vendors can work their way into a position where they are receiving consistent revenue and don’t need to constantly spend on acquiring new customers.

Customer experience should not be viewed in isolation

Customer experience is the next biggest differentiator. For vendors, this is the real deal.

Enterprise support is only becoming more complex, with a growing number of devices needing support on a daily basis. In order to ensure a high level of customer experience, vendors must provide outstanding support across the entire lifecycle of purchase, deployment, and post-sales support, as well as ongoing relationship management

From a technology vendor perspective, there are various functions that drive this customer experience – specifically, customer care, tech support, professional services, customer success, sales operations, and education and training. The only organization that cuts across all these functions is the support organization as they are the front face of support and are always in touch with customers. This gives the support function the unique advantage of being stewards to drive CX across all interaction points radically transforming how support is thought, advocated, nurtured and delivered.

To ensure good CX, enterprises should unify all of the modular blocks that power CX using a robust digital framework. By investing in a digital framework, enterprises can transform CX operations, and obtain insights and intelligence that will help them drive operational efficiencies and enhance the customer experience.

Dismissing the dismisser: A new trend might turn the tables in the world of work

How the companies that went about downsizing during the pandemic can impact their current attrition rates massively. There are several reports that show how employees are looking to quit their jobs and sail into other ships. Can we call it a revenge resignation then? Maybe!

Layoffs during the pandemic were a part of the big prime-time stories. It is still there! Startups and established Unicorns are sacking their employees like there’s no tomorrow. The whole of India Inc already was a part of a big layoff season during the pandemic. Even legacy firms were a part of it! However, soon the tables might turn.

There are several reports that show how employees are looking to quit their jobs and sail into other ships. Can we call it a revenge resignation then? Maybe! Take an example: Better.com fired more than 1,000 of its employees abruptly one day. Post this incident, the company’s CEO, Vishal Garg got trolled hugely by the netizens. Hence, Garg took a long leave from his company. It looked like he disappeared. But one fine day, he returned, and his return wasn’t accepted wholeheartedly by the employees. Result: There was a spiral effect in the company, causing plenty of resignations.

This can be termed Revenge Resignation! Prasanth Nair, Chief HR Advisor, TVS Capital Funds, tweeted, and we quote, “Came across a term today “Revenge resignation”. Got the mention from someone who said his resignation is his response to the way his organisation sacked his colleagues during the pandemic.”

However, Anish Philip, Chief People Officer, CSS Corp, believes that trends like this are short-lived, and an empathetic HR approach can help organizations thrive in circumstances such as these. He adds, “The business reasons and economic considerations backing up this trend are beyond HR leaders’ control. Revenge resignation seems to have emerged as a ripple effect of the mass layoffs that we witnessed in the last couple of years.”

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CSS Corp is now Movate

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