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  • Coding coolies lose their charm; Industry needs solution architects

    IT OUTSOURCERS are promoting ‘mini CEOs’ capable of running businesses on their own while trimming down on the hordes of entry- level computer coders they normally hire as they try to squeeze more profits out of their staff.

    The shift by Infosys Ltd and others is symptomatic of a maturing industry that wants more revenue from its own intellectual property instead of providing only labour- intensive, lower- margin information technology and back- office services.

    For young graduates who see the $ 108- billion IT industry as a sure pathway to modern India’s growing middle class, the transformation is unsettling.

    Dozens of industry aspirants who were recruited on campus by No. 4 player HCL Technologies recently protested outside its offices in several cities. They were offered jobs in 2011 before graduating last year but have not yet been given joining dates or paychecks. HCL’s December quarter profits and revenues rose while staff numbers shrank— a rare trick in an industry that has long aspired to break the linear relationship between headcount and revenue growth.

    Just 20 per cent of the 5,000- 6,000 campus recruits offered HCL jobs in 2011 have been taken on board since graduation last summer. “ It’s not that the demand doesn't exist; it exists for different skills,” said Ajay Davessar, HCL’s head of external communications.

    “ Typical roles which a student thinks, ‘ I’ll just go there and start coding, and have a good life,’ are being tested to reality.” Tech Mahindra Ltd, the No. 5 player, is naming 100 of what it calls mini- CEOs who will be given broad latitude to run their parts of the business. “ We’re moving towards a situation like the developed economies, where we’re asking the people to be more deep,” said Sujitha Karnad, head, HR, Tech Mahindra. “ We want more solution architects to be here. We don’t want the coding coolies anymore, that’s clear,” Karnad said.