Ramesh Alluri Reddy is an industry veteran having held senior leadership roles with Wipro and Cognizant prior to joining Adecco. He comes with over 21 years of experience in Technology thought leadership, expertise in growing independent Business Units, running P&L, sales leadership, delivery management & operations management. His career is spread across multiple regions & geographies in various global roles held in the US, Japan, UK, European Union, Australia and UAE. He has led large teams of consulting and outsourcing professionals focused on providing technology transformation, infrastructure, and cloud services to deliver business value and drive productivity and digital improvements for many Indian clients.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has always been prevalent for decades now. Neural networks has been an interesting field of Engineering courses as part of machine learning (ML) and AI for quite long. However, there has been a clear shift towards more and more adoption and making it real in the last decade. So much so that today we don’t even realize we are conversing with a virtual assistant many times and not with a real human! And going forward we may see ourselves interacting with fellow humans who are digital – not just in the metaverse but maybe even in the real world.
With this advent there comes this question that will AI powered robots overpower humans? Will humankind be driven towards extinction and will the Hollywood movie – Terminator become a reality!
I firmly believe to the contrary AI will only help humans propel their intelligence further and ensure we evolve even more. In this article we will see what opportunities AI has created for the skilled workforce this far. Also, a sneak peek into what the future probably has in store.
While the proliferation has been a little deeper in a few industries, it is true that AI has practically impacted every industry! Let us take a look at a few use cases where AI has revolutionized the way we live and the related industries that it has disrupted.
- Finance – AI led custom financial planning, Custom insurance recommendations, Virtual banking with digital agents are a few to name.
- Retail and Manufacturing – Online experience stores across fashion, apparel, eyewear, virtual 3D retail stores, AI led digital shopping experiences, AI led 3D designs and printing and many more.
- Travel and hospitality – Virtual tours, Digital experiences including 3D projected menu, route optimization for maps are a few
- Media and entertainment – online gaming, AI powered audio/movie portfolio creation and suggestions, Virtual AI led music lessons etc.
- Telecommunications – AI led 5G revolution, intelligent networks
- Business process outsourcing – AI led customer support with virtual agents.
Yes, that is just a small sample of how AI has impacted humans in their daily lives already. And in reality, this has unleashed a real set of opportunities for skilled labour across disciplines of technology. Here’s how:
- Data and data platform modernization – Data is the crux and an AI will only be as effective as the underlying data. Also, data today has to be collected from various sources including machines and it is no longer only the structured text or numbers. There is a plethora of machine generated data including by IOT (internet of things) which is unstructured. Moreover, the sources of data include audio and video as well and the AI engine gathers the requisite intelligence from across. Today due to the various data sensitivity issues the new age AI also uses synthetic data – that is not real data but data that is close to real but masked/generated for training the AI and ML programs. This has created a huge requirement for data engineers.
- AI is heavily used to do various types of analytics and the fulcrum for the same revolves around data science and statistics. This has created a huge need for skilled analytics personnel who have a strong domain exposure in the respective industry. Not only that but there is a huge need for skilled statisticians as well.
- Most of today’s industries operate on the cloud. And the AI engines make intelligent automation possible here. Hence a huge demand for the cloud and infrastructure skills has arisen. And the current varieties across large players like Microsoft, Amazon and Google ensure various flavours across and this calls for specialization across the various OEMs.
- The world is currently moving towards a more plug and play approach towards software engineering. Hence the need for various skills around containers and microservices.
- User experience is paramount in today’s world. So, there is a huge thrust on UI/UX to interact with the customers. All the AI programs including chatbots, virtual assistants etc. are augmented with a unique user experience. Hence the skills for UI/UX are in great demand as well.
- Not just the above – today’s expectation is that software engineers understand the whole landscape of all the above – this means that there are many requirements that revolve around full stack engineers – be it on Java or .NET.
- Apart from this, the hardware part including IOT and other edge devices/embedded systems are an absolute must and we can see this in all walks of life – be it our smartphones, TVs, washing machines, intelligent AC’s, dishwashers etc. AI works on the data and user interaction on all these devices. The skills that are required around this are around IOT, semiconductors, embedded engineers etc.
- And then there is blockchain, crypto, metaverse and more!
As can be seen above, AI has created a huge shift in demand across multiple areas and has propelled the demand scenario towards more skilled and technologically advanced labour. This will mean that India needs to have more engineers who are skilled on all the above and more. I foresee the regular low-end requirements around customer service and other support areas to be completely automated. In fact in many places it is already a reality. So, the labour market will see a shift from these generic support skills to more and more advanced skill labour.
Drones doing delivery, driverless cars displacing drivers, virtual assistants replacing customer service agents etc. are already in vogue. It is time for the current generation to look deeply into how they can upskill and become more relevant in today’s world. AI in more ways than one has announced a wake-up call to one and all to upskill and excel or perish.