View from India: Are you job ready?

The pandemic has thrown open fresh challenges and unknown opportunities. Jobs of the future will never be the same.

The lockdown has unlocked new unchartered avenues for the e-commerce industry, which has become India’s fastest-growing digital business with players like Amazon India’s Flex Delivery programme expanding to 35 cities. This initiative has opened up part-time job opportunities in various parts of the country; flex partners have undergone digitised training; Walmart-owned Flipkart has invested in new hiring and has rolled out digital training programmes, and during the festive season (understood as Dasara, Diwali, Christmas and New Year) e-commerce firms have come up with new delivery stations to speed up deliveries.  

Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), is focusing on the e-commerce industry. JioMart, RIL’s e-commerce platform, has gone beyond being the connecting platform between the small retailer and consumer and expanded its portfolio to include electronics and fashion goods, as well as groceries. JioMart has partnerships with neighbourhood, or kirana, stores across several cities. 

In short, e-commerce firms have encouraged shipments, warehousing, third-party logistics and the assembly and delivery of the components of the supply chain, all of which have created additional opportunities across the network. Thousands of jobs that were unthinkable before the pandemic have unfolded.  

Riding high on e-commerce preferences are the digital payment options that have managed to attract rural and semi-urban India along with metropolis consumers. Payments-processing company Razorpay has attracted attention at an international level; media reports have indicated that Razorpay has become the fifth Indian fintech player to achieve a valuation of $1bn. 

To put things in perspective, card payments have been ongoing, but the 2016 Unified Payments Interface (UPI) made people notice and accept digital payments, where money is transferred between two bank accounts via a mobile phone. It got a boost when demonetisation happened in the same year. UPI has been regulated by the Reserve Bank of India, India's central banking institution, which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee. 

Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) is the GoI’s trinity to link Jan Dhan accounts, mobile numbers and Aadhaar cards to ensure that everyone has access to government subsidies. A sum of almost Rs 37,000 crore has constituted the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) from 2019-2020, as projected by the Government of India (GoI). As JAM payments widened their sphere, DBT gained momentum. There are over 41 crore Jan Dhan accounts, while over 127 crore Aadhaar numbers have been generated. As for mobile connections, more than 100 crore mobile numbers have been registered.  

Point-of-sales procedures, which have altered with the pandemic, could become a regular feature in the future. Contactless shopping has already gained acceptance and the trend will continue as planned purchases have begun to replace impulse buys. In order to gauge consumer preferences, there will be a greater thrust on big data investments. Technology has a more prominent role to play in the offline retail space when compared to the previous year.

As for mobile phones, Apple has managed to attract Indian customers with its equated monthly instalment schemes and cash-back offers. Apple has worked out a price strategy for its iPhone 11, which seems to be conducive for India's price-sensitive market.

A robotics lab from Nokia is in the offing. The Finnish company has announced that it will set up a research lab at the Indian Institute of Science. Researchers will pursue socially relevant use-cases based on 5G-enabled wide area network and emerging technologies. The thrust areas include drones for agriculture. 

Meanwhile, this year has seen the launch of the 5G smartphone in India, including options from Samsung with the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G and Realme's X50 Pro 5G. 

This is all an indication that consumers will upgrade their phones, which is much required as the pandemic has created a growing market for online lessons. Students are relying on devices now more than ever. New smartphone launches in the market would lead to new openings for domestic mobile manufacturers and assemblers, mobile marketing personnel and app developers, among others.

Data-driven posts are going to propel the job market of the future. A cross section of domains such as clinical research, healthcare, logistics and aviation will all open up for data-driven posts at various levels. Broadly speaking, decision making for prevention, maintenance and outcome-based results relies on data-driven evidence. Firms are investing in professionals with data talent to create market-ready customised solutions. This alone will realign many of the existing functions. It explains why data courses are being offered across academic institutions; it is likely that data courses may mushroom, quite like the manner in which computer science became a must-offer course in all engineering colleges. Data engineers and scientists are almost recession-proof jobs.  

We are at the threshold of a Wi-Fi revolution, which will unlock new jobs. As reported in the media, the framework for public Wi-Fi networks has been approved. PM Wi-Fi Access Network Interface will facilitate the process. Public Data Office (PDO), Public Data Office Aggregators and app providers will be part of the network. PDOs, even the small ones, can operate without any license or registration fee.   

Another dimension to the job scenario is that IT companies are hiring graduates from the humanitarian faculties. The logic behind this is the pervasive nature of technology, combined with a human-centric focus. Many arts graduates are lateral thinkers; communicative and behavioural skills are a natural flair with them and this helps in handling client requirements. Many of them have writing and marketing abilities, which are being leveraged by the company. These intangible skills, along with technical-digital expertise, will help in the company’s growth. Accordingly, companies are building a hybrid talent pool and building new cost-effective delivery models to stay relevant in changing times. 

The pandemic and the much-awaited vaccine have opened up many channels of scientific research with drugs and testing procedures. As the vaccine is expected to roll out in mid-2021, the distribution network will open new avenues. 

The growing popularity of the app economy and pervasiveness of social media will alter just about everything, be it organisation operations or individual preferences. Electronic payment systems and digital financial services are the missing links for inclusive development. They will open up jobs that were unheard of before. 

And now, with the pandemic, there’s a surge of startups that have tailored payment and service requirements for retail, real estate and insurance, among other verticals. Digital payments and insurance tech will boost the fintech industry. When we look at this industry, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Opportunities abound in the form of digital lending, whereby digital platforms for the borrower and lender can be customised. 

Innovative business models will evolve during this decade; the cascading effect of the pandemic is that it will open newer options in digital payment gateways. 

Digital services are becoming more important than before, so there’s a greater emphasis on security and trust. Block chain platforms will increase to help companies and business vendors eliminate paperwork and bring all stakeholders under a single umbrella. 

The auditor has a decisive role to play in the digital transformation of a company. In the corporate world, several companies, both big and small, have laid a roadmap for digital transformation. What gives this digital transformation a value-add is the role played by the auditor. 

The digital journey involves the auditor right from the beginning by offering a 360-degree view of the organisation’s growth, laying threadbare the profit and losses across departments. This is essential for resource management. In turn, it will ensure tangible results in the case of return on investment. 

The adoption of technology is crucial for internal audit. Bots and analytics are embedded into various audit functions across enterprise resource planning platforms and business processes. To an extent, this eliminates the manual or physical processes of what the auditor has to do.  

Wearable health and medical devices are among the digital fallouts of this pandemic. Telemedicine, e-retail and e-learning are digital opportunities for India to tap. These verticals have been largely disrupted, throwing open unexplored avenues. The digital narrative has the potential to transform the way we work and live, while consumer behaviour will also be determined by increased mobile penetration, affordable internet data, and the consumption of social media. 

So are you job ready?

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