BENGALURU: India’s four biggest IT firms — TCS, Infosys, Wipro and HCL — have seen their combined employee strength rise by over 1 lakh in the first six months of the fiscal year. That’s 13 times more than in the corresponding period of the previous year, after the pandemic had struck. And it’s almost twice that in the corresponding period of the pre-pandemic year, 2019-20. It’s an indication of how much demand has picked up in IT services. Enterprises around the world are trying to digitalise their operations with the pandemic underscoring how important that is for sustainability. There’s a big movement to cloud because of its ability to scale IT requirements up and down very quickly. That movement to cloud is also opening up new opportunities in analytics, artificial intelligence, and in internet of things. Digitalisation has also proved a fertile ground for cyber criminals, and that has, in turn, led to massive demand for cyber security. TCS, which has 5.2 lakh employees, led the hiring momentum (see graphic). Some of the hiring by companies is to deal with high attrition rates. Infosys’s attrition last quarter rose to 20.1%, from just 13.9% in the June quarter. Other companies have also seen attrition rates soar. TCS has said it plans to make offers to 75,000 freshers this year, a record for the company. In an interview to TOI, TCS CEO Rajesh Gopinathan had said, “The conviction in technology and the momentum in this is increasing.” He pointed out how the cloud-based transformation represents an architecture change in IT. Cloud, he said, is also enabling capex to be replaced by opex, allowing enterprises to do a lot more experiments. On the hiring momentum, Gopinathan said the last time TCS saw this was in 2011-12, coming out of the financial crisis. Infosys last week raised its revenue guidance for the year for the second time, an indication of how quickly demand is picking up. The company has increased its fresher hiring target for this year to 45,000, from 35,000 that it had planned three months ago. Wipro CEO Thierry Delaporte said the demand environment is very strong “and the pipeline, which is the highest in recent quarters, is a reflection of that”. HCL Technologies CEO C Vijayakumar said, “We witnessed the highest net hiring numbers in the last quarter — 11,153. Net hiring over the last three quarters has been at about 28,000 in our employee workforce and there’s another 3,500-odd in terms of third-party contractors. So, the total is pretty much near 32,000 over the last three quarters itself,” he said.