I’m speaking about India’s $150 billion outsourcing industry as the world continues to be consumed by AI.
‘AI’ is all about making systems or devices think like a human. The idea is simple but very huge and complex to be achieved. To make systems think like a human, they need humans to guide them. And when it happens, there will no requirement for pre-programs to run the instruction, but the machines will be as sufficient as a breathing human to perform tasks proficiently.
Now just think, what would happen if in few years all the cabbies were to be replaced by AI agents?
And suppose your taxi is moving in a one-way road, the AI agent should know that no one will drive towards the car from the other end.
So, when we take the actual hurting facts, people, especially Indian’s are feeling that their outsourcing journey would cut short the moment AI replaces their job, but is it true?
Reports say that by 2021, robots will eliminate 6% of U.S jobs, and surprisingly most of the jobs from this country are outsourced to Asian countries like India, Philippines, Indonesia, and etc. So, what will be the impact of automation on Indian outsourcing market?
India: Status of Outsourcing Market in the Global Competition
The AI race has begun and India is clearly manifesting its move towards the new field. As per the research conducted in March 2017, nearly 1,000 companies have adopted AI and have revenues of over $500 million across nine countries.
To improve the product ordering experience, SAP India invested on Niki.ai, a bot.
According to experts, AI will be adopted much faster in developing nation than in the developed nations. And if I to take India, the reason is very simple, one, it has a large pool of technical talent and second, it is the third largest global site for AI companies.
Intel, the world’s second-largest semiconductor chip manufacturer is planning to train students, engineers, scientists on AI over the next one year. And research groups in India have already started to work on implementing these algorithms in the collaborative environment.
AI in India: Challenges to be faced
India’s economy saw a better projectile in the last few decades thanks to outsourcing industry. Currently, with the AI tide, there is debate whether the new technology will make the economy weak or improve.
Quite contrasting to the situation India may face challenges dealing with three factors. Since AI is huge in terms of everything, our developing nation may find it obstructive dealing with infrastructure, investment, and policies.
The policy is about making AI a critical component in the government initiated programs and it’s national security strategy to make it easier for the society to take that frog leap.
The government can encourage manufacturers and industrialists with incentives to operate in partnership with start-ups and universities for manufacturing automation.
The US and China are leading the AI race by investing billions of dollars and funding numerous deals.
India is new to the race and not to mention it entered with reservations. So, until investors see some effective adoption or initiative programs taken, India would it difficult finding suitable investors.
Ironically, the Indian start-ups have managed to raise less than 100 million from 2014-2017YTD.
Enterprises and why even start-ups are eager to have data science teams, but it’s not just about meeting the performance metrics. But it’s about providing suitable infrastructure to ensure a proper workflow.
Without proper infrastructure, there will be inefficiencies in every phase, and that includes,
The Growth Factors
We saw the challenges; let’s see the benefits or growth factors involved.
- Starting New India
‘The future of Indian IT is not in services, but in software’, these were the words of outgoing CEO of Infosys, Vishal Sikka.
It’s an opportunity for India to move beyond the tag of a service industry. Some jobs may entirely vanish, but India will have opportunities in the automobile, renewable energy, electronic, skilled systems, robotics and food and beverage sectors. Everywhere there will be AI agents, and here India can make its mark training these agents with millions of patterns, which is the actual concept behind AI.
- Huge Investments
As reported in business standard, 9 out of 10 Indian companies feel that AI has not snatched jobs but has created, which I feel is quite true, if we analyze the previous point.
It will be a huge leap for the Indian market. However, even though the BPO industry may get automated, not every area can be replaced by robots and there will a requirement for human intervention at least at some point.
- Resources to Re-skill Themselves
AI is new and it’s not easy for organizations to have access to ready-made resources with the knowledge domain.
And the only option left is for employees to re-skill themselves to avoid losing jobs.
Organizations should take initiative and reorient suitable skill development programs, so employees, especially the mid-level managers stay relevant to meet the excellence.
Now the question, how outsourcing destinations like India can take benefit from AI?
Till now, our outsourcing agencies offered purely offshore solutions, but now to substitute for the change, they can start providing automation solution for instance through RPA software.
An Insight on RPA (Robotic Process Automation)
RPA is a software application with the ability to share and assist humans with activities while interacting with a computer system.
The outsourcing industry will not vanish very soon. By the time automation completely takes over, the service providers should have started with RPA. Not only would they enhance the existing business relationship with clients, but speed up their service capabilities.
AI should be created keeping humans within the loop. It’s a complete misapprehension that AI would completely replace manual involvement. Because, no matter how redundant the task may seem, replacing completely with robots would only enhance production and efficiency, but doesn’t replace the need for an actual resource.