Wipro fired its joint CEOs because its lagging behind peers, Infosys shares are down because of below expectation profits. Why are the Indian IT companies who were on an unstoppable growth march till yesterday are suddenly hitting roadblocks?
There is one fundamental problem that no one is talking about just yet.
The people who write code at the root level just aren’t interested in programming anymore !
I run an IT services company so I know this by experience – Majority of the fresh graduates joining the IT industry are not passionate about the profession. They are into it only for easy money. A typical interview of a fresh graduate goes like this –
Me: So you want the job of a programmer? Why?
Ans: Because I have done my BE in Computers / I like programming
Me: OK so you like programming. Tell me about the programs you have written.
Ans: I have written this xyz app during my college project…
Me: Don’t tell me about your “academic” projects. Tell me about any programs you might have written during your spare time.
Ans: Ummm, no I haven’t written any code apart from my college projects.
Ans: Didn’t get time / Don’t have computer at home / Don’t have .Net/C++/Java at home… / Didn’t get a chance….
Once I asked an aspiring programmer to define who he thinks is a programmer.
His answer – “A programmer is someone who creates software as per client’s requirements”
I was like “Okay…Does it always have to be for a client?”
The guy replied, “No it can be for internal company requirements as well”
Me: “So it means that a programmer always creates programs when someone asks him to? Can’t a programmer write some program just for himself? Just for fun?”
The guy said “Yeah he can…”
Me: “It’s just that YOU won’t write a program for yourself right?”
Guy: “Yeah I don’t need to”
So programming is akin to making a pizza as per the order!
Creating computer programs is not a job! Majority of the people aspiring to be programmers won’t write a program until they are FORCED to by their college or by their employer. And that is NOT good. I would say 90% of the people opting for this profession are doing it just because it has easy money. Easy money and a very convenient way of going abroad!
I can’t help but think of the dialogue from 3 Idiots – “Don’t run after success, strive for excellence and success will follow.” And you can only excel in anything if you are passionate about it. Unfortunately very few programmers are striving for excellence.
You can teach people syntax of C++ and SQL and PHP. But you can’t really make them passionate about something. It really has to come from within. And when people do something without having a real liking or passion, it shows up in the quality of the output. Missed delivery dates despite long hours in the office, buggy code, frustrations for client and developer alike are the results of having non passionate programmer work on a software project.
And that increases the cost for the IT company. In the past those costs could be absorbed easily because the salaries were low. But now with salaries for even entry level programmers going through the roof, companies can no longer afford to recruit people who aren’t really into it.
Often we read about why companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook don’t come from India. This is one of the reasons. You can’t create world beating software without having passionate programmers. Read about any successful software’s history and it was created by someone who was just playing with an idea or just did it as a hobby.
So what lies ahead? I think the honeymoon period for the Indian IT industry and non-passionate programmers is coming to an end. India is not the cheapest outsourcing destination any more. With salaries increasing and clients not really getting the worth of their money because of not-really-interested-in-job types working, they will move to cheaper destinations like China and Philippines.
Smaller IT services companies will be the first to face the heat and the large ones will follow. You may have revenue of billions of dollars but some day, clients would stop paying for unproductive people.
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