Words by R. Suresh
We need to see technology as friend, not foe, and understand fully how to leverage it to elevate the workforce
AI is now ubiquitous & boring, but is guzzling skilled talent
We may not see it, but AI is everywhere. For example, devices enabled with Alexa responding to voice commands have become widespread and the interactions of humans with gadgets are now increasingly voice led. There are potentially 100 devices at a typical home (currently in the US home) that are connected to the net and hence are smart.
Most of these smart devices recognize voice, recognize moods, are trained with past data sets so that they can recognize the future commands and have become a co-partner for the individuals using them. In a way, the AI trained system has become boring, there is no more new excitement about them. However, in the backend, creating those data sets, algorithms, AI models are consuming more than million people, most of them in India, servicing the globe.
The foundation AI
The next revolution in AI is being spearheaded by advanced AI companies such as DeepMind owned by Google and OpenAI owned by Microsoft, who develop AI foundation tools and these foundation tools are making waves for its abilities to be deployed in multitasks. ChatGPT is one of the foundation tools, which suddenly shot into fame because Twitter said that this will be deployed in helping the Twitterati to frame messages.
ChatGPT, for instance, can be used for multiple tasks such as writing reports, making powerpoint presentations, marketing collaterals, annual financial reports, gmail sentences, crack jokes and so on. The foundation AI block remains the same, however prompt queries have to be written separately to get different things done. So, these are the skills which are emerging such as prompt writing skills also called Prompt Engineers and building the AI foundation through pre-training using data sets, which means the new skills of Data Scientists and Analysts are required.
Meta’s revolution is yet to play out
Just like these AI revolutions, the next major tech revolution in the offing is the full-fledged play out amongst the community and corporate universe of the Meta technologies. For instance, the football tournament which concluded recently, will perhaps be aired in the Meta Universe in the next edition in 2026.
In FIFA 2026, it is expected that the viewers will be able to run along with the midfielder or the striker and view the ball as though they are kicking it. They no longer will be sitting in front of the screen and watching videos, they will be part of the game themselves, and they can choose to be in the shoes of whichever player they want. In this Meta Universe, there are requirements of skilled graphic designers, block chain technologists, image processing technologists, communication tools developers, programmers. Demand is going to soar.
The biggest boom in waiting is IIoT aided by 5G
IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) is the biggest boom yet to be unravelled. In the previous section, we spoke about smart consumer devices leveraging the natural language conversion through AI. If there are 100 devices potentially that are connectable from home, there would be 10K devices that are potentially connectable from an industrial factory.
All the plant, machinery, material handling, utilities, and robots will be operable from the mobile in the palm of a foreman sitting in a central control room. This is where the telecom companies and technology companies will collaborate together in creating industrial technology solutions (also called IIoT). When this happens, the mechanical design engineers and production engineers will have to upgrade themselves to create new programs to study the visual pictures of the jobs being undertaken by the industrial plants and the workflow. Mechanical engineers will turn themselves into system designers and image processing experts.
Demand for people in India will outstrip supply
All of these newer revolutionary technologies need scores of people who are coming to be called as Business Analysts, System Architects, Data Scientists, Prompt Engineers, and tons & tons of programmers. Within the programming world, the skills are shifting from operating systems and device level programming such as C++ type of languages to Java, Python and the likes. In the sweeping technological revolution where repetitive decision-making tasks and even knowledge-based tasks are replaced by robots, manual labour content gets replaced by the systems designing and developing skills. Which is why today’s young graduates flock into getting trained on newer technologies such as AI, Block Chain, only to be participating in constant technological revolutions.
The demand today is so high, there are almost 1.7 vacancies for every 1 knowledge worker. The task for the country’s elite will be to provide opportunities for its graduates to learn technical skills so that they all get absorbed in the creation of products, services and solutions based on newer technologies. The other challenge for Indian corporates and tech world is to retain the talent within the shores of the country and not allow them to migrate en masse.
R Suresh (RS) is MD of INSIST Consulting and a dominant player in the Executive Search and HR space in India. He is arguably the most visible and established name in the Executive Search space. He founded and established Stanton Chase as a premier search firm in India. After 14 years of being at the helm of Stanton Chase in India as MD, he sold the firm to a large Asian conglomerate. He now heads INSIST, a global research based Executive Search firm, and operates out of INSIST’s Mumbai office.