NEW DELHI: Future is here. The fear that automation and artificial intelligence will reduce jobs is coming alive sooner than many would have thought. The software services industry will create fewer tech jobs this year. The reason is that Indian IT companies now entrust entry-level coding roles to machines and migrate to just-in-time hiring of engineers. According to Nasscom, early indications from the industry show that it will create 2.50 lakh tech jobs this year, down from nearly 3 lakh last year.Lateral recruits— with 2-8 years’ experience—will bear the brunt while the number of job offers at engineering college campuses will remain the same at 1.20 lakh but with a downward bias. IT services major Tata Consultancy Services has said it would go for agile recruiting, or on-demand hiring, owing to increased automation in the software delivery process. “Analytics, IoT (Internet of Things) and automation are changing the entire delivery process. We are going for hiring in an agile way which is on-demand,” Global HR head and EVP of TCS Ajayendra Mukherjee said IT services companies such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro and Cognizant have in the past year talked about rationalising their workforce and reducing roles at repetitive works such as software maintenance, testing using AI and automation. They have said new roles would be created to do complex works using the domain expertise for people released from varied projects.AI and automation will result in reduction of 7-10% of IT employees by 2022 in India, according to a study by HfS Research. India’s IT industry employs nearly 3.9 million people. Job losses due to automation and AI can happen sooner in other sectors too. Already, AI can generate X-ray reports at Max Healthcare. At PolicyBazaar.com, almost 70% of motor insurance policies are sold by bots. HDFC Bank products such as ‘loan in 10 seconds’ are processed by machines. At travel platform Ixigo, bots handle most queries without people realising. Apollo Munich, Birla Sun Life, ICICI Lombard GIC, Maruti, Yes Bank and many others are actively using AI in daily business improving productivity and scale.Analysts predict that by 2020, AI technology will be virtually pervasive in almost every new software product and service. Gartner predicts AI to be among top five investment priorities for more than 30% of chief information officers by then. “Machines are enabling intelligent conversations. Banks, insurance companies, wealth management firms, ecommerce and retail firms are extensively using machines for predictive analysis, sales and so on,” Arup Roy, research director, Gartner, told ET in January.
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