Unless you have been living in a cave for the last year you know that a hot topic in the tech industry is the idea of “offshoring.” A lot of large tech companies are sending high tech jobs to areas that feature lower labor costs, such as India and Russia.
I have mostly ignored the news because I don’t code for blue chip companies, nor do I really care to. However, I do admit that the trend is a little scary as I am about to move back to the center of the tech industry and it could hinder my job prospect should I decide to join the workforce again. Recently, Dell moved its call center back to the states from India. Dell cited the fact that customers were dissatisfied with the technical support they were getting. This magnifies one of the major concerns when outsourcing: cultural/language barriers. If you cannot understand the person on the other end of the phone or the code they produce is commented in another language it makes it very difficult to do your job stateside.
While the topic is a hot one, I’m not completely sold that American companies trust their Intellectual Property in the hands of people they have never met half way across the world. They might not have to worry about that now that legislation is cropping up around the country that would keep companies who offshore from winning lucrative government contracts. I, personally, think this is great for a couple of reasons (the economics majors out there will be yelling at me for sure).
- When a government agency specs out a project they do so in American dollars at American prices. When they send out an RFP there is an understanding that the proposal won’t come back in Yen or Pounds.
- As a taxpayer I fully expect that my tax dollars be put back into the American economy. The government is the single largest spender in this nation and it should stay that way. I don’t think that my tax money should be spent funding some other country’s economy.
As for the private sector I could care less. If you think your company would benefit from offshoring then go for it, but expect there to be costs well beyond the low wage costs. That last article points out tons of hidden costs and quotes one person as saying that if you pay a person in India $10k a year it could end up being more like 4 to 5 times that much when all is said and done.
“I am pleased to be telling you definately that your humble computer is quite indisposed”. I lived in Asia for over thirty years and can understand most forms of English spoken with an Asian accent. Not many Americans can!! Dell learned quickly that even if the technical knowledge is available, an Indian (as in Indian Sub Continent and not Native American) accent on the phone trying to describe to an American from Twin Falls how to jump strart his or her computer after a hard drive heart attack could result in a bad case of cross cultural miscomprehension. It’s hard enough for most Americans to understand an Englishman or an Australian, much less an Indian, Pakastani, Malaysian, Hong Konger or Philippino speaking their version of the Queens English! Granted, there are far more English Indian accents than American English accents in the world, but our linguistic isolationism has left us with only the Canadians and the BBC for company. (We usually forgive the Canadians for not being able to pronounce garage). “Hallo, this is Goa calling. I am somehow knowing that you are somehow needing a super premium platinum citibank card?” Yea, sure.