Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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Read this exclusive interview with Chirag Boonlia and Nafees Ahmed featuring only on ET-Insights.

Chirag Boonlia, Chief Technology Officer, Embassy Group and Nafees Ahmed, CIO, Indiabulls Group share their insights on the rise of automation in India and its impact on the Indian Economy, how automation will affect jobs in India and a whole lot more.

Chirag Boonlia, Chief Technology Officer, Embassy Group

ET-Insights: Your views on the rise of automation in India and its impact on Indian economy? 

Chirag: While Blockchain & AR/VR have been taking giant strides & making their presence felt across the industries, my take is that they are still far from genuinely denting the way businesses work however with manpower cost arbitration feigning fast, ROI for automation is a clear compelling case for one & everyone to adopt. The transition of repetitive & mundane tasks from developed nations kicked off from Call centres to BPO’s to KPO’s created great proposition in the past, this automation would probably take few of those processes back to the western world however Indian techies would now have the opportunity to climb up the value chain & delivery solutions for the entire world & there by create a genuine impact.

Nafees Ahmed, CIO, Indiabulls Group

Nafees: There is a steep rise in technology utilization at fast pace. That requires speed to market, quick adoptability and agility to meet ever changing business requirements, scale and global reach. All these can only be achieved by having automation, be it in system, quality assurance, testing, production, supply chain, logistics or lending. Customers are inpatient and restless. They demand quick service in every aspect. Producing at scale and speed to cater to large consumers in time and cost effective manner is achievable by automation, not through manual process anymore. On one side automation is effecting employment at lower levels but, on the other side is providing goods/services at competitive cost. With changing times, the people re-skills to new age jobs and help economy to continue to grow and remain vibrant. Else with obsolete workforce the economy is deemed to be doomer one way or the other.

ET-Insights: How will automation affect jobs in India?

Chirag: It remains a myth that any new paradigm sucks up the job market. While, few BPO’s & KPO’s might wound up, it would definitely create umpteen number of alternate higher value chain jobs to cater to the evolving need of this automation industry. So, I firmly believe that Technology-enabled automation displaces some workers and augments significant others. Increased productivity on account of automation invariably raises incomes, lowers work hours and lowers prices, creating more demand for goods and services, leading to more jobs and broader economic growth & history of all such new paradigms is just a case in point.

Nafees: On one side automation is effecting employment at lower levels who are not able to adjust to changing needs. With changing times, the people re-skills to new age better pay jobs and help economy to continue to grow and remain vibrant. Else the workforce skills get obsolete and  employment is adversely affected.

ET-Insights: How can business leaders, policy makers, and workers prepare themselves for the new automation age?

Chirag: As far as Business Leaders are concerned, its extremely pertinent for them to embrace this wave of automation whole heartedly & improvise efficiency or else they would end up being globally competitive. Cost arbitration can’t be a USP alone & its time, they re-invent & re-engineer their processes to make a mark in this connected world.

Policy Makers, yet again need to continue focussing on the basics & ensuring quality of education reaches to the grassroot level & there by help Indian blue collared workers to stand tall & towering among their international peers.

As far as workers are concerned, its pertinent to quickly re-skill make themselves amenable to the world of new opportunities.

Nafees: Business leaders and policy makers should be conscious of the hardship and cost incurred in training and re-skilling the employees. They should balance the plans and policies on one hand looking at future and on other the ground realities in present to have the progression plan that helps masses into automation age. Their migration and upgradation plans should give opportunities and time for re-employability. Workers should be open minded in learning new skills and keep themselves abreast with latest skill trends.

ET-Insights: What are the factors affecting pace and extent of automation?

Chirag: Automation came into limelight when the big tech companies started adapting this new wave. Accenture has 63,000+ bots to take care of routine operations which clearly indicates that these tech companies took giant leap & improvised their efficacy ratio by leaps & bounds. While basic RPA can take care of genuinely repetitive tasks without much tweaks & turns, intelligent automation can further genuinely move the needle & make a compelling case for an end to end automation & there by improvising the efficiency significantly.

Nafees: Lack of skilled workforce is affecting the automation. Also large number of legacy systems are plagued with domain knowledge loss. This affects adversely the automation speed, cost, completeness, and correctness. Automation is not a one time activity. It takes continuous effort to maintain and upgrade it that adds significantly to cost that only large setups and industries may be able to reap its benefits and value it.

ET-Insights: Why Intelligent Automation is the Future of Work?

Chirag: Anything that’s measurable, repeatable, predictable and transaction work would invariably get swept under the tsunami of Automation that’s already lingering around however the recipe would disrupt the entire value chain, if its spiced with Artificial intelligence to handle processes that need intuition, judgement, creativity & problem solving & we are not far away from those days. Be it Driverless Cars, precision medicine, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation promise to usher us in a new era of inexpensive goods, effortless personalization.

Nafees: Because Intelligent automation provides consistently the quality product at competitive rates at scale and speed.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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