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Instead Of Job Reduction, AI Can Profoundly Impact How We Work, Says Manoj Nair, Head Of India GDC At Fujitsu India

Instead of anticipating job losses, Fujitsu has been heavily focused focus on talent development and growth

Instead Of Job Reduction, AI Can Profoundly Impact How We Work, Says Manoj Nair, Head Of India GDC At Fujitsu India
Manoj Nair, Head Of India GDC At Fujitsu India
POSTED ON February 21, 2024 1:21 PM

Last October, Fujitsu’s chief technology officer, Vivek Mahajan, warned that artificial intelligence (AI) solutions could face a severe talent shortage soon. Many other tech and startup companies are already finding it challenging to find candidates for the growing AI-related work.
However, Fujitsu has been able to stay ahead of this curve.

In 2001, it strategically established its Global Delivery Center (GDC) in India, to leverage the country’s growing STEM talent—Nasscom estimated it is the second largest worldwide after China, with an annual graduate supply standing at 2.14 million. Today, while the company has six other GDCs including China, Malaysia, Portugal, Philippines, Poland and Costa Rica with a 23,000-strong workforce, India remains the largest one with over 9000 staffers. 

Manoj Nair, head of India GDC at Fujitsu India told Outlook Start-Up that the country’s largest STEM talent pool has strengthened the company’s tech backbone helping it provide cost efficiency, scalability, standardization, technology enablement, and risk mitigation to customers across 180 countries. This has helped it achieve its goal of establishing global practices that target delivering the same services, in the same way, up to the same standards, focusing on customer centricity and collaboration globally. 

Edited excerpts

What is the company’s vision for India, amidst the ongoing debate that AI will result in massive layoffs?

Instead of a job reduction, AI has had a profound impact on how we work; the increased digitalization and automation have led to a major skill shift. Given the speed and scale of engagements in the face of ever-evolving business and technology requirements, we implement demand-based skills, to apply the latest innovations in technology to our customer base. 

We have seen tremendous headcount growth year-on-year by 8-10% and are witnessing a new era in computing wherein foundation models have ushered in a new generation of AI. With generative AI kicking in, the job market for AI talent in India is set to grow with roles of machine learning engineer and AI product engineer becoming sought after over the next few years. 

In India, the roles of machine learning engineer, data engineer, data scientist, data architect and DevOps engineer, constitute around 73% of all data science and AI job openings in India.

At Fujitsu India, we run dedicated programs to ramp up quickly—through cross-skilling to provide multi-location, multi-technology, multi-functional customer engagements. Our employees have spent about 1.1 million hours on training, with each employee spending about 114 hours in training on average. 

What is Fujitsu GDC’s global talent pool and in India currently? What are its plans to increase this workforce globally and in India by FY25? 

As a global Japanese information and communication technology company, nearly 98% of our GDC workforce is actively engaged in engineering and IT activities. With a strategic shift towards increased global customer engagement and R&D digitization, we anticipate a progressive rise in these percentages, further enhancing our technical prowess.

Fujitsu India has a global talent pool of over 9.1K employees and plans a significant workforce expansion by FY 25. It is proactively investing in bolstering its technological prowess, particularly in AI, cybersecurity, and data domains over the next three to five years. 

Considering the talent shortage, where will you get these people?

The demand for specialised skills in cloud security, DevOps, and cloud automaton tools is high and we provide tailored programs to build competencies in these areas. As a 3S provider—Salesforce, ServiceNow and SAP—and with India witnessing the highest talent growth of any established market, we will continue to invest in India-based talent and build competencies across the 3S ecosystem. 

Also, to nurture our future data science leaders, our experienced Data Scientists cultivate the next generation of talents, ensuring a continuous and skilled leadership pipeline.

External hiring also plays a pivotal role in our strategy, introducing fresh talent and new perspectives to our AI endeavours. This approach ensures that our team remains abreast of the latest AI developments. Apart from this, we will partner with educational institutions to meet the future demand, encompassing both technical profiles such as developers, coders, and engineers as well as business-oriented roles in sales, marketing, and business development.  

How is your GDC engaging with start-ups and educational institutions, utilizing their AI/ML and technical knowledge via incubation units to conceive and implement inventive concepts for customer products and services that align with future requirements?

Our collaboration with start-ups and educational institutions is about mutual growth. In our dedicated incubation units, we work on inventive concepts to meet future needs. This mindset positions us at the forefront of innovation, contributing not just internally but also to the broader tech ecosystem, nurturing emerging talent.

Our experts mentor start-ups in AI and service integration space and we conduct training drives in management and technical institutes nationwide, actively shaping the curriculum for premier institutes. 

Our collaborations with IISC involve talent engagement and project contributions. Through reverse mentoring with startups, we design practical curriculums, ensuring our initiatives align with real-world industry requirements.  

While focused on rapid digital transformation, companies are also cutting down on their tech spending, reflecting macroeconomic uncertainties. Since IT spending follows GDP curves, when will companies increase their spending? 

Acknowledging this correlation between IT spending and GDP curves, Fujitsu's adaptive strategy factors in the current economic downtrend and focuses on system integration modernization and meeting the increased demand for ERP and CRM systems. Despite macroeconomic uncertainties, we remain agile, ensuring our solutions align with evolving market needs and technology landscapes.

What investment is Fujitsu India GDC making to improve its tech capabilities in areas like AI, cybersecurity, and data, over the next 3-5 years?

Fujitsu India employs a comprehensive and innovative approach to enhancing the workforce's AI expertise. Central to our strategy are our internal programs, which include a strategic training initiative targeting members yet to be engaged in projects. These members engage in a meticulously planned, structured training program, sometimes lasting several months, including internal or external training as needed to upgrade their AI skills through a targeted approach.

For years, we have been fostering a learning culture by conducting weekly knowledge sessions. In these sessions, team members share their project experiences and research findings or discuss AI topics. This practice nurtures continuous learning and significantly expands our collective knowledge of AI.

A crucial facet of our upskilling efforts includes both internal and external paper-writing competitions. These competitions stimulate creativity and encourage cutting-edge research, significantly enhancing our members' skills. Our on-the-job training approach complements this, providing team members with hands-on experience to apply their learning in real-world scenarios. 

Furthermore, we actively encourage our associates to participate in conferences and industry events, which exposes them to global trends and invaluable networking opportunities. This broadens their understanding of AI and keeps them connected with the wider AI community.

How is Fujitsu helping its customers plan and deploy future-ready solutions, especially in the age of AI? How will this maximize the value of their investment in your company?

We launched Fujitsu's Kozuchi, our AI Platform that encapsulates our dedication to delivering accessible, practical, and impactful AI solutions. Our vision for this platform is symbolized by the "Uchide no kozuchi", or magic mallet, reflecting our aim to deliver AI solutions that turn challenges into opportunities. Through this platform, we strive to unlock new potential, drive innovation, and ensure our clients' investments in Fujitsu yield substantial and continuous returns in the AI era.

This platform, comprising two key elements—the AI Innovation Components and the AI Core Engines—is central to our strategy of empowering businesses with AI. 

The AI Innovation Components, a collection of advanced AI technologies, are designed to address unique business challenges. Fujitsu developed and enriched these components with standardized technologies from Open-Source Software and our partners. They are geared for quick Proof of Concept (PoC) realization, enabling businesses to test and validate AI solutions tailored to their needs rapidly.

Our dedication to ethical AI practices is integral to deploying AI solutions. Fujitsu has established an AI Ethics and Governance Office, recognizing the critical importance of responsible AI. 

This office ensures the safe and secure deployment of AI and cutting-edge technologies, underscoring our commitment to responsible innovation in society. This reflects our responsibility towards ethical AI deployment and assures our customers that their solutions are aligned with the highest ethical standards. Additionally, we have offerings on Explainable AI frameworks like Wide Learning, DeepTensors etc. that also provide a reason for our customers to trust us. 

How is your company adapting to the changing market demands, considering the evolving needs of your clients and the diverse opportunities they are pursuing? 

As our customers explore technology and data for growth, we respond with a comprehensive suite of integrated solutions. Beyond meeting demands, we proactively anticipate future needs, injecting innovative thinking into every facet of our solutions.  

Fujitsu Uvance was launched to seek growth by providing services globally that are tightly linked to the realization of our purpose “to make the world more sustainable by building trust in society through innovation.” Our commitment is to be not just a provider but a partner in our customer’s transformative journey.

Do you have a roadmap to achieve this goal tangibly?

Fujitsu has outlined comprehensive plans with clear milestones and timelines to help customers in planning and deploying future-ready solutions, especially in the era of AI. These plans involve a consultative approach, collaborating with strategic partners like SAP, ServiceNow, Salesforce and Microsoft. 

By offering a roadmap with tangible milestones, we aim not only to meet but exceed customer expectations, ensuring that their investment in Fujitsu translates into maximum value through seamless integration, scalability, and adaptability. 

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