Automation and the new U.S. administration were the big unknowns at the Indian tech sector's annual shindig this week, with machines threatening to take away thousands of jobs and concerns over possible visa rule changes in the key American market.

Senior executives from the $150 billion industry, which rose to prominence at the turn of the century by helping Western firms solve the "Y2K" bug. The sector, led by Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd, is lobbying hard as the new U.S. administration under President Donald Trump considers putting in place visa restrictions. The administration may also raise salaries paid to H1-B visa holders, a move that could significantly increase costs for IT companies that are already facing pressure on margins. The longer-term challenge and opportunity for the sector was automation, executives said, as global corporations from plane-makers to consumer firms bet on the use of machines to further cut costs and boost efficiency. That threatens lower-end software services and outsourcing jobs in a sector which employs more than 3.5 million people.

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