The IT services industry is the biggest private-sector employer in India (employing 3.9 million people) which earned an aggregate revenue of $160B in 2016. Infosys Limited was founded in Bangalore, India in 1981 to cater to the needs of organizations across the world to develop, operate and maintain large-scale, customized IT system. As IT systems became the backbone of organizations across the globe, Infosys leapfrogged to become a large multinational organization with a market capitalization of $33B and a revenue of $10B by 2017.  
Given the replicable nature of work involved in IT projects, Infosys was able to develop a scalable “supply-chain” of IT project delivery. The IT “supply-chain” consisted of 4 parts:
- Execution, Control & Monitoring
- Closing 
These steps could further be divided into sub-steps as shown in the below schematic:
Given the complexity of the IT “Supply Chain” and the customization required in each step, IT projects required an ‘army’ of engineers to develop, test, operate and maintain the IT infrastructure. Companies such as Infosys leveraged the abundance of skilled engineers in India to deliver IT project across the globe and enjoyed double-digit growth for almost three decades.
The Digitalization Challenge
Like most other industries, the IT industry has been getting disrupted by digitalization too. Thanks to a massive shift in underlying technology, the deployment and maintenance of large-scale IT projects now require fewer and fewer IT engineers. Infosys Limited laid off 11,000 software engineers in 2016 and has estimated that 100,000+ traditional coders might lose their job in next 5 years if it fails to reskill its 300,000-strong workforce to new age digital technologies. 
The following infographic shows the major shifts in the IT industry over the last 2 decades:
The IT industry has gone through 4 distinct phases of technological changes, with each new phase coming faster coming in fewer years as compared to the last phase 
- Phase 1: Custom Applications –IT engineers had to write codes from scratch and deploy, test, operate and maintain IT application on client servers. Any change in existing IT applications required long cycles of planning and deployment and typically required several iterations.
- Phase 2: Business Software – Software companies across the world started bundling common IT applications to be sold as prepackaged software (ERP, CRM etc.) which enabled companies to deploy common business software quickly
- Phase 3: SaaS, PaaS, IaaS – Improvement in internet speeds enabled usage of Software, Platforms, and Infrastructure “on the cloud”. Standardized development platforms reduced the need for custom development. Using SaaS, PaaS or IaaS, clients could easily scale up or down in real time based on the organizational demand. These technologies rapidly deskilled the process of building IT application.
- Phase 4: New Age digital technologies – The rapid explosion of digital technologies such as Analytics, AI, DevOps, Blockchain etc. along with better tools to create business software has resulted in lower demand for traditional IT projects and increasing demand for complex digital projects
Adapt or Perish?
The key question in this context ahead of companies like Infosys, which has 300,000 people trained on old age technologies such as SDMS is how can they rapidly retool their workforce in the age where technology is changing at a rapid pace.
With changes in underlying technologies, Infosys also needs to change the fundamental thinking process behind software development. The workforce at Infosys is largely trained at codifying set business processes. With a host of smart tools available today, a large portion of coding & testing has either been automated or deskilled. With benefits from traditional IT systems plateauing out, organizations are demanding new-age IT systems based on advanced analytics, AI, and Machine learning. A study by NASSCOM predicts that the Indian IT industry will need to shift 40% of its 4 million employees from manual, repetitive coding work to smarter, creative application building over the next five years to stay relevant in the face of digitalization.
Efforts so far
Infosys has started creating design thinking platform to both re-skill people and drive innovation. It has also started working with massive open online course (MOOC) providers to skill fresh hires and reskill existing employees. Apart from courses in digital technologies, Infosys also invests in changing people’s personalities & learning abilities and also monitors post-learning retention & applied by the employee. 
Despite large-scale efforts by IT firms as well as industry federations, as much as 56,000 employees were laid off across top 7 IT firms in India in 2017. 
A Larger problem
The problem with Infosys is much larger than a simple skills gap issue. It has to do with the broader education system in developing countries like India. Indian engineering schools have outdated curricula which glorify and promote an exams-and-marks-oriented approach to teaching. The curricula followed in Indian universities emphasizes on content and the neglect of higher-order thinking skills. This does not help students become creative and critical thinkers. For digital age companies such as Infosys to keep innovating sustainably and stay ahead of the curve, they have to work with the Indian engineering schools to overhaul the higher education system. 
Questions and Reflection
- As improvements in technology are eliminating lower order jobs, can developing world companies like Infosys adapt to become leaders in innovative & creative jobs as successfully as they did in repetitive, predictable jobs?
- How can education system train youth on a large scale to be design thinkers & creators in a world where digitalization is taking over repetitive jobs quickly?
 “How the Indian IT services sector is seeking to make its biggest transformation”. Shelley Singh. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/ites/how-the-indian-it-services-sector-is-seeking-to-make-its-biggest-transformation/articleshow/60502487.cms
 “Infosys releases 11,000 employees due to automation: Key takeaways from board meet” 2017. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/markets/stocks/news/infy-lost-11000-jobs-due-to-automation-key-takeaways-from-board-meet/articleshow/59298660.cms
 “IT reboot: How Infosys, TCS, Wipro & HCL are re-skilling employees to beat automation”. 2017. http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/it/it-reboot-how-infosys-tcs-wipro-hcl-are-re-skilling-employees-to-beat-automation-2323469.html
 “Top 7 IT firms including Infosys, Wipro to lay off at least 56,000 employees this year”. Varun Sood. http://www.livemint.com/Industry/4CXsLIIZXf8uVQLs6uFQvK/Top-7-IT-firms-including-Infosys-Wipro-to-lay-off-at-least.html
 “What ails higher education?” 2014. http://www.thehindu.com/features/education/research/what-ails-higher-education/article6491934.ece