November 28, 2021

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Tech talent crunch to last for a decade: IBM

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Tech talent crunch to last for a decade: IBM
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Tech talent crunch to last for a decade: IBM
Tech talent crunch to last for a decade: IBM

NEW DELHI: IBM chairman & CEO Arvind Krishna has said that the talent crunch in the global technology industry will likely stay for the next decade, and noted that IBM itself is expanding in India dramatically.
“I find every single enterprise, government client we talk to is thirsting for talent, and there’s not enough supply. That’s because every company, country and government has woken up to the fact that technology is no longer a cost of doing business, technology is a fundamental competitive advantage. And so you want technology talent in-house, not just provided from somewhere else,” he said in a media interaction on his first visit to India after taking over as IBM head in April last year.
Krishna expects IBM to add thousands in its R&D business in India, and tens of thousands in its consulting business. The company does not break up its employee numbers by geography, but it is estimated that it has over 1 lakh employees, or at least a third of its global strength, in India. That might be the case even after the recent separation of its managed infrastructure business into a separate company called Kyndryl.
Krishna noted that IBM has very large centres in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune, and a smaller one in Delhi in R&D. “We have just announced the opening of centres in Ahmedabad and Cochin. There will be more,” the IIT-Kanpur alumnus, who has spent 30 years now in IBM, said.
Krishna said the only way to deal with the talent crunch is for companies to take the onus of skilling people. “Areas like AI, quantum, blockchain, cybersecurity – it is impossible that there will be enough talent in the market. Colleges are slow to change their curriculum. So, we take a theoretical physicist and, in six months, make them into a quantum scientist who will be good enough to build use cases,” he said. IBM in India, he said, spends 100% of its CSR funds in skilling.
Krishna has a humongous task before him to change perceptions about the company, which has been losing revenue since its peak in 2011. He’s spinning off low-margin, low-growth businesses, and focusing on two high-growth areas – hybrid cloud and AI. He’s raising spends on R&D. He’s building partnerships with companies that would once have been regarded as pure competition. And he’s moving rapidly into the open source world. “The company that invented vertical closed technologies 60 years ago, we can learn to change,” he said.
On partnerships, Krishna noted that there are plenty of areas where companies like Amazon, Microsoft and even the Indian IT services companies don’t compete with IBM on. “They (Amazon, Microsoft) are not going to acknowledge multi-cloud, hybrid. But if the client wants to modernise their applications to Azure, but wants to use Linux, who can do the Linux work better than us?” he said. Indian IT services companies, he said, partner with IBM to use many of the latter’s technologies – like Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat Linux – while implementing projects.

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