The Upshot at NASSCOM 2016 | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

I recently returned from NASSCOM 2016 and, on the long plane ride, reflected on what I heard and observed. I think what I learned can be told through the metaphor of storytelling.

While I was at NASSCOM, a beautiful romance story unfolded. That romance is all around the digital marketplace and the potential it has for the services industry. This is a beautiful story in which the services industry, and particularly the Indian services industry, opens up a new vista or horizon for growth as companies work to digitize their companies. It unleashes great new growth for the industry. So a wonderful and intriguing romance is developing.

At the same time, I saw an impending horror story building. This horror story is shaped around the effects that automation will have on the services industry. It’s very clear that everyone is concerned about the impact that automation will have on the Indian services industry, where a high-percentage of rote jobs in BPO will be done by RPO or cognitive computing, DevOps in applications, and a software-defined world in infrastructure. All of these hold a threat to dramatically change the existing FTE-based industry in a very profound and significant way.

There was also a mystery story. It feels like both automation and digital challenge the existing FTE-based business model, so new business models need to come into existence, which are IP based, not labor based. The mystery – and it’s a cliffhanger – is what is that business model and will the service providers be able to shift to it?

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