Indian IT Industry - A Long Due Course Correction




  • No personal mails
  • No personal phone calls
  • No personal work
  • No going out of premises in office hours (i. e. Lock-In)
I don’t know where this is going to lead the blue eyed IT industry. Definitely not to the solution of the problems they are trying to address like decreased productivity and quality. The root of these problems lies in how industry culture is developed. Over 25 years, we have messed up industry culture falling prey to many factors. We blindfolded ourselves from reality and foresightedness in the hoopla of growth and increasing profit margins.

We are reaping the results of our shortsightedness. We spoilt our employees with hefty salaries which went on becoming literally filthy as industry flourished and reached to the peak. Companies could easily afford it because it was dollar\pound to rupee conversion. People kept doing same or less amount of work while they kept getting grand increments and bonuses. We lacked the foresight of where this will take us.



I remember a parable where a poor man robs a king of his kingdom by offering his services at meager remuneration like one wheat grain on first day, two on second, four on third and so on. In the very next month king was serving this poor man. The poor man used his brains and asked the king for something which appeared so negligible and due to lack of king's foresightedness he was doomed.


However in our industry the only difference is king has offered the same without the poor man even asking for it. And now many of the so called kings are facing simple arithmetic problems like how to increase net profit. Companies acted like cannibals who fed on their own species. Luring good people with crazy packages and offering blind increments to the jumpers were few of the termites, companies themselves planted in the gigantic Titanic cruiser of Indian IT industry.

A bench strength has become synonym for number of non-performer employees in company. There are hardly any good people you can get from the pool. They warm the benches for years earning hefty salaries doing nothing and more often than not add to nuisance values in the organization. Google used to boast of not having entry swipes. No company when they started thought they will need it. And now you see it has become industry standard. From asking employees to fill time-sheets to installing card swipes to tracking the screen time using spy apps.


What has changed?

Haphazard growth could be one factor, but there are many others and prominent two I can think of are:

  • Poor/Immature performance monitoring and assessment
  • Lack of coordinated administration in industry
After so many years, we are still struggling to device a mature and foolproof performance assessment mechanism. Different tools and techniques have been tried across industry. Intermittently some companies declared they nailed it but the euphoria lasted only one appraisal cycle. Employee commitment and contribution kept on deteriorating. Then came time sheets and screen tracking which were like releasing series of hot fixes when an architecture overhaul is long due. We have so many standards - CMM, CMMI, Six Sigma, ISO, a little bit too many. Every 3-5 years a new set of standards is released and we go after them. If these standards really works, why we could not yet come up with a Performance Monitoring And Assessment standard, so that organizations could simply implement those and be rest assured. Why?

We do not have answer.

We call ourselves an online industry, however, we still don't have a database of all employees in industry where we can cross-check their record. Each corporate is little too busy in increasing profit lines and don't feel need of such coordinated activities. If a person gets kicked out of one company on genuine performance reasons, how the hell does s/he gets recruited in another and then thrown out in 2 yrs and then get recruited in yet another?

We do not have answer.

Even the bench warmers would resign from company siting the reason of salary and irony is that they get hired soon in other company with significant increments.

How the bench warmers and work-shy people survive and thrive in the industry? We do not have answer.

India is creating 5,00,000 engineering graduates including 1,00,000 computer graduates every year. Fine that is a separate problem but how the hell any Tom, Dick and Harry are making their ways in industry?

Already We Are In Deep Trouble
Most significant reason for this situation is under estimated importance of performance assessment right from the beginning. When industry was new and blooming no one bothered about assessing the performance of each individual critically as this was the least priority task they had on their agenda. No pink slips and memos given to employees when company is doing good in terms of meeting targets. This led to a perception of indispensability even in the minds of non-performers and piggy backers. We have rarely seen cases like demotions and decrements to send strict messages. Yes we do see bulk layoffs when company does not meet targets. Layoffs generally cut through even good people because we have blind targets given to HR manager get rid of 1000 heads. In my opinion it is cruel and purely a failure of company management who sacrifices hundreds of people to save skins of top few so called CEO's - Crushingly Exorbitant Over( and high)heads. There are other industries who falls short in number games however do much better in terms of achieving targets and managing the work force. Securing N number of different certifications is not going to inculcate honesty, commitment in your employees.

Banning personal emails etc. is not going to solve the problem. It is like applying ointment on the skin for treating blood cancer. Honest people will give you their worth irrespective of how much time they spend on personal things. Similarly, spoiled people will find way to kill their time howsoever you try. We need a better way of addressing the problem. Go to root cause and accept it first and then fix it. We have created and spread the disease so we must find the way to curb and cure it too. And it has to be a WE effort. No single company, howsoever big it is, can do it alone.

Although the picture is looking better for SW industry since last 2 years, thanks to techno-disruption, I hope that we take the cues from history and work on cleaning the dust off it. Or else it will keep getting too darker and murkier to see both the profit lines clearly.


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