Original article can be found here (source): Artificial Intelligence on Medium
Can the COVID-19 Pandemic be the catalyst to Indian IT’s Evolution?
Adversity is an opportunity for creativity because it allows you to dig deeper and discover something new; this is what they say. At the same time, some of India’s IT staunch certainly took that expression to their hearts at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has caused social distancing, lockdowns, and devastation around the world.
One of India’s largest IT service provider, Tata Consultancy Service (TCS), is an example of staunch. It only had a window of six, short hours to move an ample amount of all its core operations — lock, stock, and barrel — from its intricate, secure environments within its offices to the living or bedrooms of employees.
In a report, TCS CEO Rajesh Gopinathan said, “From a highly centralized model consisting of workspaces set in large delivery campuses capable of accommodating thousands of employees, we had to switch to an extreme form of distributed delivery in a matter of days. To do that across an organization of 448,000 is, you will all appreciate, not a trivial challenge.”
Transition Done by TCS
TCS has been grabbing headlines since the transition for successfully switching 85 percent of its employees to a sustained, work-from-home model. There are two remarkable feats about TCS’s move. One, Indian companies are notoriously hierarchical, with the inability of top management to relinquish control, so going from the in-office style of work to the remote is almost too hard to imagine.
For example, many IT companies have implemented employee productivity trackers, such as webcam-based motion capture, hourly tracker entry, keyboard tracking, and so on, to ensure employees are working at home.
It shows a deep-rooted malaise in the IT / ITes industry in India, where senior management generally mistrusts its employees.
Two, unlike retail or manufacturing sectors that are unable to comply with current social distancing standards, top-ranking Indian IT companies and their mid-sized brethren are responsible for keeping the lights on for a large collection of global companies — some of which depend on people every second of the day. It includes banks, utility companies, retailers, and, most importantly, pharmaceuticals.
Hurdles that comes in between
With the ongoing outbreak of coronavirus, all the industries are now being serviced from India’s IT workforce’s apartments and houses, which, as you can imagine, is a highly exasperating and challenging task for everyone who is involved. Most IT clients have ironclad regulatory and privacy riders that need to be modified significantly during this coronavirus period.
Then, there is bandwidth concern. As is the case, the connections available in residences are often spotty and can hardly compete with the blazing-fast ones within IT offices. Now that literally, every tech employee in Bangalore, Delhi, and Bombay are closing up fiber, the ability to deliver solutions while virtually conferring with large teams has become a herculean task, if it wasn’t before the outbreak.
How TCS pass all the hurdles?
Given these hurdles, TCS make such a radical shift, and in such a quick and efficient manner. In an interview CTO of TCS, Mr. Ananth Krishnan said that their transformation stemmed from its Enterprise Agile program, which had nothing to do with the pandemic, and was launched three years ago.
TCS’s machine first culture allows them to add artificial intelligence and automation into a significant portion of its mission-critical functions such as infrastructure, networks, cognitive applications, among others. In other words, the transformation of TCS was much simpler as COVID-19 came knocking because of the plans they had made earlier.
One such case is when TCS was handling a banking client. All over the world, regulators and central banks were allowing the deferment of loans. For one such client, TCS had to incorporate an immediate framework update to one of the client’s basic platforms to allow the monthly installment deferrals immediately. Moreover, the platform needs to be rolled out as soon as possible; monitoring systems that can send alerts once the crisis slowed down it needs to be implemented, and a capability to stop deferments post-coronavirus was also required. Despite moving its workforce outside of its office, TCS was able to achieve this.
TCS credits its success to its current safe, borderless workplace, called Model 25/25, which means that it claims that only 25% of its staff needs to be located at its headquarters to reach 100% efficiency and that 25% of the TCS project team does not need to be in the office for any particular project to move forward.
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Change is only constant so that it would be better to accept it and evolve with it; companies like TCS and Wipro, who have chosen to embrace the present state of affairs as a springboard for the future. In some way or another, this might be a godsend for the Indian IT industry. In particular, in the light of US President Trump’s battle against H-1B visa-seeking IT companies that have been forced to wean off their overseas outsourcing armies in recent years. The Indian IT model had to evolve, and the coronavirus pandemic may have triggered it to happen at lightning pace.