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How a Biden administration will impact the workforce

Infosys President Ravi Kumar joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss how a Biden administration will impact the workforce.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. Potential new immigration policies under the Biden administration are likely to have far reaching implications for a number of businesses, including those focused on IT and the workforce. Let's bring in Ravi Kumar. He is the president of Infosys, and he joins us from New York.

Ravi, it's always good to talk to you. I would love to just get your thoughts on the election results here. There's a number of issues that we've heard from Joe Biden that could be particularly supportive to tech companies. But how are you looking at the election results and the implication a potential Biden-- you know, some of his policies are likely to have on your business?

RAVI KUMAR: Akiko, thank you for that question. Always a pleasure to talk to you. You know, just as a matter of policy, we don't comment on national politics. But where we are in the evolution of embracing digital technologies, AI, and a variety of things, which are what accelerated it because of the health crisis, we are very optimistic about the future, very optimistic about what businesses would do, starting from workforce development.

In fact, you are aware we made an announcement in 2017 of 10,000 jobs. We crossed 13,000 jobs a few weeks ago. And then we made an additional announcement of 12,000 jobs. So, very excited about focusing on workforce development, future of work, helping large enterprises on digitization. There's going to be rapid digitization, and of course, the advent of AI, which is going to be a powerful embrace on advisors.

So, really excited about it. We've done a local embrace of talent for the last few years. That's going to help us significantly. We're one of the largest recruiter for schools and colleges in the US. Of course, we want to amplify it with global talent as well. So we've been on this journey of local talent amplified by-- you know, amplified by our global capabilities.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, Ravi, no question Infosys has really doubled down on its presence here in the US and, to your point, built up a huge presence on this hiring spree over the last several years. But this has also come at a time when we have seen the Trump administration really crack down on these H1B visas, these legal visas for workers, for IT workers in particular. And I know that's really hit Infosys hard. So as you look to a Biden presidency and a shift in that policy, how does that open up avenues for a company like Infosys?

RAVI KUMAR: Akiko, we have straddled between the two very effectively in the last few years. We hire from schools and colleges in the United States so we never fall short of talent because we are historically a company which has believed in training from schools and colleges and pushing them into the tech and the digital workforce. We're building the largest corporate training university in the United States, so that journey is going to continue.

We won't be as dependent on global talent for expertise and capabilities, and that will continue. I'm hopeful that the combination of the two is going to keep us running and keep us competitive enough to partner with a lot of enterprises.

ZACK GUZMAN: And Ravi, in terms of AI being implemented at some of these larger companies, it was interesting to see a new report out of BCG and MIT Sloan kind of looking at how do they feel about reaping the benefits of the new technology. That report only found one in 10 companies saying that they've felt significant financial benefits from implementing. So where's that gap right now in terms of companies feeling like they're spending money on this, but not necessarily seeing a boost?

RAVI KUMAR: So that's a great question. You know, there's been one inflection point before on consumer AI, I would say. We would see a ton of technologies, new age digital technologies in our homes in our custom devices. Now is the inflection point for businesses to embrace AI. And I think it's a combination of two things.

One is, there is more maturity of this technology. There's better handle of the text. There's better handle of regulation. We have a solution around workforce dynamics. And there is a pull because of the health crisis. Ironically, the health crisis is an inflection point. You'll see more digitization. You'll see the need of business continuity as organizations prepare to the other side of the crisis, cost imperatives, and more importantly, better experience.

So I would say organizations are much more equipped now to do this than ever before. AI and cloud are going to lead that part. And both of them are general purpose technologies. What I mean by general purpose technologies is they're very pervasive. They improve over time. And more importantly, they spawn downstream complementary innovation.

But last time something like this happened was when the steam engine was manufactured before the Industrial Revolution, which led to the Industrial Revolution because it kind of spawned the downstream innovation. So we are going to see much more embracing of those technologies as we go to the other side of the crisis.

And the push and pull I spoke about and the general purpose technology, which AI and cloud is going to help us build that momentum, and therefore, you would see that pattern of more enterprises seeing that technology is going to play a big role in changing the landscape.

AKIKO FUJITA: Ravi, really quickly, let's talk about this big launch that you have today on applied AI offering, essentially allow-- or offering up these end-to-end services for companies to be able to scale their AI investments. We have talked a lot about how, this time, this pandemic has shifted the workforce in a significant way. What about the operational side of these companies, the investments that are being made on technology, particularly AI, but also an efficiency that's created?

RAVI KUMAR: So Akiko, you know, over the last few years, the efficiency of machine learning algorithms has significantly changed. The availability of data, the maturity of those models has changed significantly, and therefore, this inflection point. The challenges enterprises have to embrace AI in a much broader scale is the discovery of value. Because AI has no guardrails.

Unlike enterprise software, which have guardrails, AI has no guardrails, so you can discover more and more value. Democratizing AI over an enterprise landscape, what that really means is, can I get every user in a large enterprise be also a creator? And therefore, imagine an employee today creating their own bot and outsourcing that work to the bot. And therefore they do more value added work up the chain.

This is going to spawn more GDP per capita. It's going to spawn an increase in wages. The key is reskilling the workforce because a lot of AI is going to take away jobs of the past. It's going to take away low wage workers in terms of the skills. But it is going to create skills of the future.

So if enterprises can actually track this problem of workforce transformation and reskilling the workforce, I would believe that you will find more jobs in the future as enterprises embrace. So I would say discovering better value, making AI more responsible, leaders in AI because responsible AI is important. Because there's a lot of talk about how the bias in data has to be removed if you have to scale it.

And most importantly, democratizing AI in enterprises so that the workforce can actually drive on skills of the future. So these are the three things we are focused on as we are launching this offering and driving it to large enterprises.

AKIKO FUJITA: Ravi Kumar, the president of Infosys, always good to get your insight. Appreciate your time.

RAVI KUMAR: Thank you. Thank you, Akiko. Thank you so much for your time.