Around 200 young engineers at Comviva Technologies are on a steep learning curve. Their employer has enrolled them in a programme, Techmaster at NIIT, where they are sharpening their skills. The reason? Skills are not keeping pace with the growth in the market for value-added services (VAS) in mobile telephony.
"The industry is nascent and has niche talent needs. The market provides very few engineers. We hire talent and groom it," says Sandyp Bhattacharya, VP, HR, Comviva Technologies (earlier Bharti Telesoft). The mobile VAS market in India is estimated to cross $10 billion (around Rs 46,000 crore at current rates) by 2013 from around $3.7 billion (Rs 17,000 crore) in 2009. Messaging, music and the Internet are its biggest drivers. The talent requirement is commensurate with growth in the industry.
Says Asim Handa, Managing Director, Futurestep India, a Korn/Ferry company, "The demand for talent is across levels. The sector is looking for talent with an understanding of both technology and business."
The increased demand for VAS talent comes not just on the back of growth in India, but also other markets. For instance, Comviva's key markets are India and South Asia, West Asia and Africa. It also has teams serving customers in Europe and the US.
"The regional skill requirements emerge from customer as well as cultural needs of that region. These eventually decide the kind of products that would be needed by the (phone) operators," says Bhattacharya. Comviva, which currently has 1,000 employees, is eyeing product expansion and growth into new markets.
While the basic skill sets for a career in VAS remain similar to that of application development, the programming language Java for value-added services is the most sought-after specialist skill. Exposure to critical technologies in the areas of mobile commerce, gaming, and integrated management of VAS products from various companies also finds willing takers.
And what can keep you ahead of the rest? Business acumen. You will have a headstart if you know how the mobile environment operates, have the ability to deploy solutions to improve the user experience and are able to discover new revenue-generating opportunities.
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