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Programming The Almighty Buck IT Technology

A Thoughtful Look at Indian Outsourcing 1772

Posted by michael
from the even-shell-scripts-fear-for-their-jobs dept.
thefinite writes "This article needs to be read by anyone interested in the outsourcing of IT jobs to India, no matter your opinion of it. It dispels some rumors (for example, if Indian IT companies do such bad work, why are over half of Carnegie Mellon's highest-rated programming companies Indian?). It addresses all of the arguments. Perhaps most importantly, it adds faces to the problem. It not only tells us about the American programmers who are out of jobs, but also about the Indians who are getting them. In the end of it, this is what Free Trade is about: people. This article makes that clear."
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A Thoughtful Look at Indian Outsourcing

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  • Cannonfodder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gma i l . c om> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:15PM (#8105804) Homepage Journal
    This article is simply a sensational piece. It's intent is to say, "See? Look at all the smart programmers we found in India! Don't you feel ashamed of yourselves now?" At which point both sides of the argument will start shouting.

    Do yourself a favor. Realize that there are smart people in India, and there are smart people in the US. Realize that the amount of outsourcing done is ineffective and will change, but some outsourcing works and will work.

    • Re:Cannonfodder (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rfsayre (255559) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:20PM (#8106696) Homepage
      Indeed. The contrasts the article draws are spurious as well. Indian with an engineering degree vs. self-taught VB programmer. I'm not saying that reflects the truth of the matter, but you'd think they could have found an anecdote about an American with an engineering degree being out of work.
    • Re:Cannonfodder (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ebusinessmedia1 (561777) * on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:27PM (#8106788)
      1) Game over! Manufacturing:
      17-18 million Chinese will migrate *every year* to China's coastal manufacturing provinces and cities *for the next 18-20 years*.

      2) Game Over! Software/Hardware Engineering:
      *320,000 engineers graduated in the Pacific Rim in 1999 (excluding Japan, where wages are high)
      *65,000 engineers graduated in the US in 1999 (80,000 - if you count graduate students)
      [[*1999 National Science Foundation, audited numbers]]

      3) Game Over! American Technology Services Sector (e.g. Accenture, IBM (consulting), etc):
      Massive infrastructure shifts to the services sector in Pacific Rim countries who have lost manufacturing jobs to China

      There is virtually nothing anyone can do about outsourcing - and the fast developing intellectual capital resources of the rest of the world - that will insulate American workers, with the exception of regressive protectionism (which will result in an even worse situation).

      In fact, *anyone* who's occupation does not *require* face-to-face contact
      is at risk of displacement, long-term.

      The next big 'thing' will be social entrepreneurial plays that bring social
      and fiscal efficiencies into mature capitalism, on a large scale. Also,
      people will learn - in general, and long-term - to be happy with somewhat
      more limited material horizons (and probably enjoy life more). This is as
      plain as day, and already in the cards.

      Politicians will not/cannot do anything to abate the outsourcing trend. Why?
      Because capital is "on the wire", and doesn't know national boundaries any
      longer. Corporations answer only to fiscal mandates, created by law. Game over!

      So, say "ta-ta" to the gravy train; let's learn to optimize our intellectual and social capital, learn to cooperate (intra- and inter-nationally), and become creatively and commercially fierce (like the rest of the world).

      There are *three* general solutions to this problem, with the third being social 'adjustment', made by Americans:

      1) Unlock the potential of American economic diversity with aggressive public policy. This means mandating changes - in telecommunications, manufacturing, education, and other vital sectors - that enable Americans to take advantage of their enormous intellectual capital.

      2) Encourage the growth of social entrepreneurial activity, with the goal of creating massive private and public efficiencies from the great wealth of intellectual, financial, and social capital held by Americans.

      3) Social adjustment. Americans will learn to cooperate (among themselves, and with others) more - over the long-term - and realize that there are limits and consequences to great wealth.

      All solutions are related.

      Here's to making those solutions happen!
      • Re:Cannonfodder (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ccmay (116316) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @10:03PM (#8108504)
        Unlock the potential of American economic diversity with aggressive public policy. This means mandating changes - in telecommunications, manufacturing, education, and other vital sectors - that enable Americans to take advantage of their enormous intellectual capital.

        God save this country from busybodies and good-government types who want "mandates" and "aggressive public policy". That horse shit has been tried for years in Europe, with unsurprisingly poor results.

        Keep taxes low, spending down, and government regulations minimized and predictable. Everything else government does is secondary, if not counterproductive.

        -ccm

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:16PM (#8105816)
    Irregardless of the angle placed upon the situation or the people involved, the "outsource-to-India" thing is affecting more than a few American jobs. This is a global problem.

    Realistically, IT workers (non-management) need to consider their jobs redundant and over in five years. Make sure you've got skills that require onsite presence, like cabling.

    The industry is just about finished, people, and it's getting worse. Give it a little longer and we'll see the likes of Sun vanish, HP is exiting the Unix market and the Linux bubble will eventually burst.

    Can *you* make coffee?
    • by Kosgrove (75723) <jkodroff.mail@com> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:39PM (#8106919)
      I disagree with the parent poster's assessment. It's never going to be the end of the industry. The US IT jobs are going to have to move to smaller, quicker-moving, better thinking, innovative companies. I'm currently in the job hunt, so I'd have every reason to be worried or negative or whatever, but there will be a job out there for you if you look in the right place.

      I've had ZERO luck doing so much as speaking with a non-HR person in any of the large companies, but I've had a much better time of it with smaller companies. My advice for those of you that are unemployed and pissed off about outsourcing is to start reading the local business journals, something many geeks are adverse to doing, because they only care about the code (administering Linux boxes, etc), and find out who are the growing, privately-owned companieis in the area, and get on the damn phone and start calling. There's likely very little you can do to stop Dell or IBM from outsourcing to India, but I guarantee a 5-person development company in the US is not going to outsource your job.

      Getting pissed off about the whole thing is just a waste of energy.
  • by SilentT (742071) <thetissilent@yahELIOToo.com minus poet> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:17PM (#8105821)
    I find it rather ironic that so many people in America, the land of capitalism, hate outsourcing so much. This is simple economics right out of Adam Smith. People in India can do the same things as people here in the States, and at a significantly lower price. Therefore, they get the jobs, and rightfully so. One good benefit for Americans is that this allows their employers to use that money elsewhere. And yeah, IT job salaries might fall, and some people might have find jobs outside the IT field. But for the most part Indians need these jobs much worse than we do. I'm willing to bet that as far as possessions go, the average unemployed computer geek is significanlty better off than the Indian worker who "stole" his job.
    • by TrekCycling (468080) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:24PM (#8105892) Homepage
      You're right. They use that money elsewhere.

      Bigger boats
      $15,000 watches
      Expensive artwork
      Marble dog-houses
      McMegaMansions

      The little guy doesn't get to assemble these either, by the way. Those jobs have also been outsourced. We get to sell them if we're lucky. This isn't the economy Adam Smith envisioned. It's capitalism to it's logical excess. The rich keep getting richer. The poor keep getting poorer. There are 5+ billion people on the planet, right? Once the 2 billion or whatever in India become too expensive, they have 4 billion more they can exploit.
      • by plalonde2 (527372) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:37PM (#8106075)
        You're right, it's not the economy Adam Smith envisioned: It's the one that drove Karl Marx to write the communist manifesto.

        There will be a revolution once the riches are sufficiently concentrated.

    • Yes, but that doesn't change a damned thing if you got laid of and still have a wife, two kids and a little Jack Russel called "Bono" to take care of.*

      NOTE:
      * = Does not apply to me. But I would feel pretty fcked if it did.

    • So after years of school and experiance we should just go work at a fast food joint? Please explain why. Also, keep in mind that this is NOT free trade. It is a one way deal. They get our jobs, but we get nothing and cant go over there to work.
      • by TrekCycling (468080) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:36PM (#8106070) Homepage
        That's the big thing the apologists miss. America is expensive. I'd love it personally if this were not the case. Then I wouldn't have had to take out $30,000 in student loans to get an education to get out of poverty.

        Their reasoning is that we're supposed to be nimble and get educated again. To what end? When I have 7 PHDs and $1million in student debt will that be enough? Will their be a job I can get? Or should I just go apply for Wal-Mart greeter now? Because this "learn more and keep up" crap is stupid. I already know what I need to know to do my job. So my choices are spend more money going to school or get a service job. Great choice.
    • by c0dedude (587568) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:30PM (#8105986)
      You obviously don't know crap about economic theory. Free trade relies on the idea of comparative advantage, that one place is inherently better at doing something than another. When Indian programmers are just as good as American programmers and there's no transport cost (facilitated by internet transmission of code), then it really is a race to the bottom to see who can pay the least for the samee service. There's no advantage to hiring US programmers, so it goes to India! In short, we're screwed! And, as posted earlier, it's a one way ticket! We can't get visas to work in India, and even if we could, it would be for 1/6th of what a programmer would make here! So don't give me bull about capitalism. This isn't a debate about capitalism v. socialism. It's protectionism v. free trade, and right now free trade is winning and the American programmer is losing.
      • by enjo13 (444114) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:40PM (#8106121) Homepage
        A competitive advantage is all about value. Can you produce a better product, and for how much? The reason that Japenese did so well in the auto markets is that they not only produced BETTER cars, but did it for less.

        In this case India is showing that they have a competitive advantage in programming. They can produce code at the required level and do it for FAR less than the American programmer.

        It is not, however, a race to the bottom. The Indian salary will not remain static. As the number of jobs and the complexity of the problems increase (remember, workers are a market just like anything else) the salary will begin to rise. As the rest of the economy begins to feel the benefits of this economic boon in India, more and more IT workers will begin to do other things. Eventually the global market will achieve Equilibrium and the competitive advantage will close.

        We talk about how these theories are untested, well we've seen the results of this same phenemenon in auto manufacturing. After all, remember all of those car building jobs we 'lost' two decades ago? Well, they're coming back in droves. The Japanese auto makers are now turning to American labor to build those same cars, as the Japanese workers salary has now surpassed the American auto workers salary.. factor in the cost of shipping those cars across the ocean and American labor makes a ton of sense for that field.

        Of course, you almost never hear about that outside of economic nerd circles.. I guess we all just like to whine.. A LOT.
    • Outsourcing is a good thing...

      Remember that outsourcing is a good thing from the perspective of Finance [wikipedia.org]. Because business is the slave of financial markets, preaching outsourcing to business is really like preaching to the choir.

      On the other hand, the social aspect. Forget posessions, forget per capita income. People like the idea of being respected and being safe in their IT jobs. They're being torn apart by outsourcing.

      Which party is right? Neither, probably. Just remember that when you join a typical
    • I find it rather ironic that so many people in America, the land of capitalism, hate outsourcing so much. This is simple economics right out of Adam Smith.

      This is not about economics, this is about culture and people. Even Adam Smith would agree that a broke consumer is no good.

      Take a look at other cultures/societies and see what they do for each other. In the US, smaller ethnic groups _pay more_ for products from others in the same ethnic group so that they help each other (take that Adam). In Japan,
    • by Atzanteol (99067) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:08PM (#8106515) Homepage
      But for the most part Indians need these jobs much worse than we do.

      Tough. Yes, you heard me. Tough. I want my job. My company is based in my country, and I say they have an obligation to support their own country first.

      One must mix capitalism with a healthy dose of patriotism. It's in the best interest of the United States that jobs stay within the nation.
      • by ChaosDiscord (4913) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @09:37PM (#8108249) Homepage Journal
        One must mix capitalism with a healthy dose of patriotism.

        Why? Are Indians fundamentally less deserving of well paid jobs than Americans?

        While I am very worried for my career, I just can't bring myself to think, "I was born an American and therefore deserve a higher standard of living, even at the expense of others." Reports are claiming that these $11,000 a year jobs are creating a healthy middle class who enjoys roughly the same sort of lifestyle I do. While I do see the specific appeal of "I would rather have a good job than someone else," it's harder to say, "I would rather my country has jobs instead of your country having jobs." Ultimately we're all on the same planet and we're all human beings.

        I love my country, but I can't bring myself to wish ill on other countries, and that's exactly what you're suggesting.

        On a barely related note, if you want world peace, we need an international middle class. Once you're reasonably comfortable it's hard to justify putting your life on the line. There are exceptions, but on the whole terrorism is an activity of the poor and desperate.

    • Misplaced scorn. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by C10H14N2 (640033) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @08:09PM (#8107232)
      The problem with The Wealth of Nations is that it boils everything down to arbitrage. Unfortunately, the technology that really only came into being over the last decade have made nearly everything a potential for international arbitrage. This is not just a problem for the United States, although the United States seems to be the last to blush at it from a governmental point of view. This is something that every single one of the so-called "global North" are worried about because if everything is distilled to "capital" and "labor," well, labor is cheaper almost anywhere else. Labor is cheaper in Canada and Mexico. You don't even need to go to India. You think we've got problems with that? Go to Germany or Scandanavia where labor is even more expensive.

      OF COURSE it is a "good thing" to the recipients of the work in underdeveloped countries. However, CEO salaries are on average thirty times what even the President of the United States makes. The CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch makes about half of the compensation for the entire House of Representatives and Senate combined. The AVERAGE CEO compensation is $11,000,000 per year--thats 39,285% more than the average American. A Dilbert cartoon recently opined on this where Alice is speaking to the CEO and asks, "I work 70 hour weeks and I don't make $40 million per year. Do you work twenty-eight thousand hours per week?" Note, this is a characterization of someone making $100,000 per year -- in the top eight percent in the United States.

      This "they need the jobs more than we do" is ridiculous. That's a race to the bottom. Almost EVERYONE needs the jobs more than we do. By comparison, the unemployed computer programmer needs the $60k that used to be his salary about two hundred times more than the CEO who outsourced his job. Put your scorn for the overpaid where it belongs.

      $60k in 2004 is $27k in 1980 dollars. Anyone who remembers 1980 remembers that was a painfully modest salary then. We're getting lost in a collective memory lapse where the numbers we see today are impressive compared to what we experienced a decade or two ago. In 1980, the pay gap between worker and CEO was only about 42:1. In 1990, it was 84:1. In 2000, it was 531:1. That's a jump of 44,700% in ten years. That's a compounded 192% raise every year. If a $60k computer programmer performed that well, they'd be making $40 million per year after ten years. In the meantime, we can all sit back and party like it's 1981. YAY.

      As for this argument from possessions, the cost of possessions is relative to the location. Anyone who has travelled abroad at all realizes that the standard of living that $50k affords in the United States costs $100k in Sweden, costs $25k in Poland and about $15k in India. A $7.50/hour engineer in India is SIGNIFICANTLY better off than an unemployed computer programmer in the United States by virtue of the fact that it costs many times as much just to stay alive in the United States as it does to live in luxury in India.

      That is the nature of arbitrage. You'd think by blathering Adam Smith you'd realize that.
  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dj28 (212815) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:18PM (#8105830)
    That's one thing this is NOT about: free trade. Free trade is when an unemployed American computer scientist can go to India to get a job. Guess what? It's impossible for Americans to get work visas in India. Why? Because they are protectionist.

    People need to realize that the exodus of jobs is a one-way ticket. Indians can come over here and work as programmers, but Americans can't go to India. This is really a story of the American worker getting shafted by the illusion of "free trade." So let's stop the propaganda and say what it really is.
    • Re:No (Score:3, Informative)

      by TwistedSquare (650445)
      Actually AFAIK an Indian programmer would have a pretty hard time going to America and getting a job there, they would similarly need a work permit to work in America. So the propaganda goes both ways.
      • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

        by forand (530402)
        My mother works at a law firm that brings about 100 programmers a month from india to the US. The law firm is VERY small, only three lawyers. While it might not be easy to get a work visa for the US it is no impossible as the parent of your reply indicated it was for an american to go to india(which I don't know to be true). Basically while this may be anecdotal, I don't think that it as hard as you are making it out to be. That said, if you are in india and already have a computer much less a programmi
    • Re:No (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jabberjaw (683624)
      Honestly, how many American programmers would want to move to India?
    • by chmilar (211243) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:14PM (#8106610)

      Free trade has three requirements:

      1. Free movement of capital/investment.
      2. Free movement of goods.
      3. Free movement of labor.

      Outsourcing of jobs to India does not satisfy the third criterion. Technically, it is incorrect to call it "free trade".

      The only true free trade system I am aware of is the European Union.

    • Re:No (Score:4, Informative)

      by Brandybuck (704397) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @08:36PM (#8107592) Homepage Journal
      Free trade is when an unemployed American computer scientist can go to India to get a job. Guess what? It's impossible for Americans to get work visas in India. Why? Because they are protectionist.

      When my company decided to "offshore" much of its development to a newly created division in India, we laid off a lot of H1Bs and resident Indian workers. To be "nice", we offered them their same jobs in India. But not one was hired. Why? The interviewer felt that they had been "tainted" by working in the US. Most of the interviews lasted less than five minutes. But one caucasion WAS hired...to be a US/India Liaison.
  • by fildo (683072) * on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:18PM (#8105831)
    ... it's the white collar execs (and wannabe execs) here in Corporate America that we're mad at!

    They get the nice fat promotions and bonuses, while our jobs go elsewhere. And we are the same people they praised just last year as invaluable assets to the company.

    So what happened? They can't get rich pulling fancy accounting tricks, so this is what they've resorted to.

    I seriously hope that I'm wrong when I predict that this whole thing will fail miserably (taking the off-shore jobs with it).
    • by mandalayx (674042) * on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:36PM (#8106064) Journal

      They get the nice fat promotions and bonuses, while our jobs go elsewhere. And we are the same people they praised just last year as invaluable assets to the company.

      So what happened? They can't get rich pulling fancy accounting tricks, so this is what they've resorted to.


      Recall that the primary objective of most corporations is only to make money. Everything else is secondary, including you and me. You can take that $120k job but remember that you're signing with a company--and management--whose primary driver is to make money.

      Don't like the system? You can start your own company. I'm going to try that out, personally.
      • by puppet10 (84610) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:52PM (#8107044)
        Actually the primary purpose of coprorations is to create value which has been perverted in recent times to be all about short term monetary gains, partly because that fattens up the compensation packages for the upper level execs so management's primary goal has become profits and more money rather than increasing sharholder value.

        Value can be about much more than money especially when you are thinking farther than 1 or 2 quarters ahead, which is where the upper level execs should be looking. A good value increasing strategy can be a loser for short term profits but beneficial to the company overall in the longer term.

        Outsourcing your core business (which I admit many companies who are outsourcing to India arent doing) is very dangerous in the mid to long term outlook for the value of your company because you are eventually going to create your own strong competitors in your own markets, while reducing your own staff including some of the employees who produce the value in your company.

        However its very attractive in the very short term because cutting costs results in an immediate increase in the bottom line - and profits cause shares to go up in the current market environment regardless if they are wise in the long term.
      • by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @08:19PM (#8107354)
        Recall that the primary objective of most corporations is only to make money. Everything else is secondary, including you and me. You can take that $120k job but remember that you're signing with a company--and management--whose primary driver is to make money.

        Oh, yeah? Then why aren't they offshoring the management jobs, too, huh?

        Right. It's not just about making money for the corporation.

  • by sTalking_Goat (670565) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:18PM (#8105832) Homepage
    . In the end of it, this is what Free Trade is about: people.



    I have nothing again'st people making a living, but lets see how your tune changes when they start outsourcing journalist jobs...

  • by phaetonic (621542) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:18PM (#8105836)
    This leaves the americans with the opportunities to open liquor stores!

    As I was told by an Indian man at a liquor store once as I was reading a magazine... "this is not a library, you either buy or get out".
  • Interesting indeed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Frisky070802 (591229) * on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:20PM (#8105855) Journal
    This article was very thought-provoking. I know someone who left the USA to return to India and start an outsourcing company in the mid-90s, before it was fashionable. I never thought he'd be so successful, but it's clear this model has taken off. In the end, Americans who cry foul have to offer a reason for cost-conscious companies to employ them instead of offshore alternatives. This article demonstrates the opposite -- the effectiveness and quality of these cheaper alternatives.

    In the end, I do think it'll be a while before the "highest level" of IT (such as research labs) find comparable counterparts at that deep a discount. People who are worried about their job moving offshore should think about how they can do things that can't move as easily, perhaps by increasing their education (MS/PhD)...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:22PM (#8105870)
    Could it just be that because of America's prosperity has created a "bubble" in the american labor market over the past decades?

    Maybe all americans are simply overpaid and we're in for a BIG correction in the coming years?

    Kinda scary.
    • I could live with a salary reduction to the level that those in India make. However, before that can happen, my cost of living has to go down to what those in India are paying. Since I live in the Silicon Valley, I don't see that happening anytime soon.

      I'm a software engineer. I don't care about getting rich, I enjoy my job. All I ask is that I can make enough to pay my bills, have a little extra money for spending, and be able to save up for my retirement.

      I don't make $100,000 per year (I actually ma
    • by 0rbit4l (669001) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:44PM (#8106174)
      Maybe all americans are simply overpaid and we're in for a BIG correction in the coming years?

      We've already had the correction. When some schmuck finishing his sophomore year of college made $80,000 for making web pages with Frontpage, that was a bubble that needed correction. We're on the other side of that now - when reasonably skilled programmers out of top-tier universities can't get jobs that pay over $30,000 (and they're lucky to have that). It's obscene to say that someone who gets a four-year degree developing a fairly technical skill deserves to barely gets paid enough to get by and make payments on their university debt. There's something wrong with this picture. Quite honestly, we're crossing the threshhold where going to college may no longer be the financially "best" option out there - trade school and a good apprenticeship in auto repair gets you a more marketable skill that actually pays better, with far less education (and cost thereof.) Again - something is wrong with this picture, and it ain't that programmers are "overpaid".

    • by Carnildo (712617) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:46PM (#8106991) Homepage Journal
      Could it just be that because of America's prosperity has created a "bubble" in the american labor market over the past decades?

      Maybe all americans are simply overpaid and we're in for a BIG correction in the coming years?


      It's called "deflation", and it's probably the worst thing that can happen to an economy short of nuclear war. Once an economy goes into deflation, there's almost no way to get it out again.

      When an economy is going through deflation, it always makes more sense to spend as little money as possible, since prices will be lower in the future. But everyone holding on to their money just decreases the amount in circulation further, so prices continue to drop, so people hold on to more money, so prices drop further, and so on. In the mean time, since no-one's buying anything but the essentials, jobs are being lost left and right.
    • I have previously mentioned my theory that USA (and other countries) might have to devalue their currency. I'm not a capitalist so a lot of capitalism is totally bogus, but how can a country like USA stay competitive if the wages in, say, China are 10x lower? Devaluing the currency is the only capitalist measure (protectionism/tariffs/etc are anti-capitalist) to remain competitive. Devaluing the currency will significantly increase the cost of imports while enhancing exports.

      Apart from the controversy of devaluing (Americans would lose the value of their assets), it might bring down capitalism with it. The US dollar is tied into so many things that devluation will impact nearly everything. Starting with a mess in the oil markets (look into something call petroldollar), it will impact US debt, world trade, and so forth. If US dollar devalues, USA will probably default on its debt. I claim that if USA defaults on its debt, capitalism will collapse.

      Sivaram Velauthapillai
  • interesting passages (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mandalayx (674042) * on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:24PM (#8105895) Journal
    "Don't you think we're helping the US economy by doing the work here?" asks an exasperated Lalit Suryawanshi. It frees up Americans to do other things so the economy can grow, adds Jairam.
    -----
    Maniar uncorks an aphorism that he doesn't realize I've heard 8,000 times before (in part because American white-collar workers have long said it to their blue-collar compadres) - and that I don't realize I'll hear several times again during my stay: "There's nothing permanent except change."
    -----
    The experience did more than capsize his work life. It battered his belief system. He's long espoused the virtues of free trade. He says that he supported Nafta and that for 12 years he's subscribed to The Economist, a hymnal in the free trade church. But now he's questioning core beliefs. "These are theories that have really not been tested and proven," he says. "We're using people's lives to do this experiment - to find out what happens."
    -----
    "Someday," Janish says, "another nation will take business from India." Perhaps China or the Philippines, which are already competing for IT work.

    "When that happens, how will you respond?" I ask.

    "I think you must have read Who Moved My Cheese?" Aparna says to my surprise.

    amazing, they read American motivational books. btw, I recommend the book to you. very short book, you can read it in barnes and noble..
    -----
    For US workers, the path beyond services seems uncertain. But again, history provides a guide. Thirty years ago, another form of outsourcing hit the US service sector: the computer. That led to a swarm of soulless processing machines, promoted by management consultants and embraced by profit-obsessed executives gobbling jobs in a push for efficiency. If today's cry of the displaced is "They sent my job to India!" yesterday's was "I was replaced by a computer!"

    Then, as now, the potential for disruption seemed infinite. Data crunching was just the start. Soon electronic brains would replace most of the accounting department, the typing pool, and the switchboard. After that, the thinking went, the modern corporation would apply the same technology to middle management, business analysis, and, ultimately, decisionmaking. If your job was emptying an inbox and filling an outbox, you were begging for someone to draw the I/O analogy - and act on it. Indeed, computer terminology is littered with traces of what were formerly jobs: printers, monitors, file managers; even computers themselves used to be people, not machines.

    Computers have, of course, reshaped the workplace. But they have also proved remarkably effective at creating jobs. Bookkeepers of old, adding columns in ledgers, are today's financial analysts, wielding Excel and PowerPoint in boardroom strategy sessions. Secretaries have morphed into executive assistants, more aides-de-camp than stenographers. Typesetters have become designers. True, in many cases different people filled the new jobs, leaving millions painfully displaced, but over time the net effect was positive - for workers and employers alike.


    If you've read this much, check out the article. I liked it...just remember to question everything you hear :)
  • by khyron664 (311649) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:24PM (#8105896)

    Outsourcing isn't the magic arrow CEOs want it to be. This article doesn't really address anything important at all. Ratings are pretty meaningless. I know parts of companies that are rated at SEI Level 5, but produce some of the worst crap I've seen. They're rated well though, so they much be good.

    Why doesn't someone write an article about all the times outsourcing has been tried before? How about what happened with Malaysia? How about the fact that the overhead involved in trying to manage people half-way around the world is higher than the amount they save by outsourcing? This isn't a new fad people. Sure, the people and the places change but the problems don't.

    Things are different now than they were in the 80's I'll grant you, but no one seems to be drawing the comparisons. Health Care costs are rising in the US, thus possibly providing better savings when outsourcing now. However, it's not like this is a new concept and that the problems aren't well known. Let's see some hard questions asked and analysis done based on past experience!

    Khyron
  • by SilentSage (656382) * on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:24PM (#8105903)
    This article makes interesting advertising for outsourcing firms and raises some very valid points but hardly can be considered either objective or entirely factual. The article talks about the quality of Indian IT firms (and they do have some high quality professional firms). However, they fail to mention the many negative experiences U.S. firms have had with botched projects, poor service and support compounded by language issues despite claims that Indian English skills are adequate (albeit this is not true in every instance). One of the main issues offsetting these facts is that they work for a tenth of what their US counterparts do. Companies find it cost effective to allow them to make these mistakes and learn from them (which they seem to be doing). Outsourcing is a minefield that can lead to extraordinary success or disastrous failure. From an economic perspective the cost savings you reap from outsourcing you pay for in the long term (as a nation) by the erosion of your markets buying power. 3 Million consumers in your home market (making $70,000 dollars a year) are replaced by consumers in a market hostile to foreign competition making $8000 dollars a year (for the top tier anyway). Sooner or later America will realize this and legislation will be put into place to stop it. But in the meantime hang onto your seats
  • India (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fizzlewhiff (256410) <jeffshannon@ho[ ]il.com ['tma' in gap]> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:26PM (#8105917) Homepage
    I guess things have quieted down now or perhaps we in the US have just lost interest. But there was a time where I am sure a few CEO's and CIO's had to be worried how long it would be before their big software project went up in a giant Pakistani mushroom cloud.

    Do political situations, like the border skirmishes near Kashmir, ever get discussed when it comes to making these outsourcing decisions? If India was thrown into a state of turmoil due to an attack from Pakistan what would happen to outsourced projects? Or if India attacked Pakistan in a way that the US felt was too severe and sanctions were put into place against India, what would happen to these contracts?

  • Just more hype (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jafac (1449) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:29PM (#8105982) Homepage
    That's all this Indian Outsourcing thing is.

    Are there really really good, really smart Indian programmers? Of course there are! But overall, on the average, outsourcing will end up biting most companies in the ass, in the long run. There are hidden costs to it, like the 11 hour time difference, language barriers, cultural differences (anecdotally, from many accounts, Indians tend not to raise questions, or think independently when a design sucks, etc.)

    Worse yet, this will bite the US Software industry in the ass when we suffer from brain drain - when software engineering is no longer a sought after degree. Then the Indians will start their own companies, and eat our lunches.

    Worse still - with the decimation of these high-paying jobs, comes an overall lowering of the standard of living here in the US. These companies got rich by selling to the richest market in the world - American consumers. By gutting their own customers, these companies are shooting themselves in the foot.

    - - -
    That said - the writing, in big letters, in crayon, is:
    Investors should believe that a wise company outsources, because it's a move towards efficiency. It will eliminate those overpaid "web designers" that are sapping corporate profits. Companies are "cutting fat". It's perceived as a gutsy move.

    Actually, it's the herd mentality. "Oh my god! IBM's outsourcing, they're going to KILL us unless we outsource too."

    But mainly - it's a movement designed to lure investment dollars back to the Tech Industry. It's basically hype. Companies who outsource are selling stock. Not products and services. This is their motivation, their drive. And it's very much a herd mentality. Among investors, AND corporations. They may be heading off a cliff. They may be heading to the slaughterhouse. Or perhaps greener pastures. But make no mistake. The Outsourcing Movement is NOT a drive to offer better service, or find better talent, or even save real money. It's a drive to LOOK like they are.

    • (anecdotally, from many accounts, Indians tend not to raise questions, or think independently when a design sucks, etc.) Worse yet, this will bite the US Software industry in the ass when we suffer from brain drain - when software engineering is no longer a sought after degree.
      Then the Indians will start their own companies, and eat our lunches.
      The same Indians you characterize as non-independent-thinking, unquestioning, uncreative, and poor-designers?

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:30PM (#8105991) Homepage Journal
    I've been out of work and interviewing. Every company I interviewed with has opening because they're bringing their outsorced projects back.

    Granted, it's not 6 figures like 5 years ago, but it's still nice.

  • SEI CMM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:35PM (#8106045)
    The reason that India has a disproportionate number of SEI CMM level 5 companies is that with ridiculously cheap labor you can afford to create a Potempkin process on top of the rampant hacking.

    Having worked with two Level 5 organizations, one level 4, and several level 3, I can assure you it's just expensive window dressing. Motorola foisted this fraud on the world in order to keep their Malcolm Baldridge award (they were told they had find something similiar to their six sigma program, but for software). The way you get to levels 2 through 5 is to fire the internal assessors (yes, they self assess folks), until their replacements tell you what you want to hear (Ye Gads, you're a level 3 organization!).

    Unfortunately, the cost of generating the useless paper for the audit trail costs as much as generating the actual software, so they farmed out the work to their internal offshore software factories (at first in India, but now, wherever hords of programmers are cheap).

    The vast majority of Indian job shops are also self assessed, and comically so (I've been told by some directors of SE that they are SEI CMM 3.5). The real problem is that the CMM has never been objectively validated. You hear wonderful claims by the SEPGs, and CMM - but their jobs depend on it, so fudging is expected. The proof is in the pudding, and when times got tough at Motorola, the CMM and Six Sigma specialists were the first to go. There's now grumbling about what to do with Global Software Group (their internal offshore outsourceing groups). Cheap is still no deal if it don't work.
  • by 3770 (560838) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:42PM (#8106138) Homepage
    See,

    most of the jobs that are moving out of the country are the type of jobs that are high profile. And therefor we hear a lot about it.

    Typically, it is programming projects that require teams of 20 or 30 people (maybe) and that lasts for a year or longer.

    But many programmers are employed where proximity is important and where the primary product isn't the software itself. Maybe it is a small financial institution or maybe a factory which needs a few programmers to build in house systems.

    Sure, it sucks when HP, Sun and others move their big and fun projects to India, but many jobs will remain here, because it isn't cost effective to move them to India.
  • by Brataccas (213587) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:44PM (#8106180)
    Oh brother, here we go again. First of all, it's not a Free Trade issue, I can't exactly go to India and grab one of these jobs.

    But, really, there is a much more important issue that doesn't seem to be getting airtime. As a software developer, I have no problem with India or any other country doing my job. However, claiming that this is all just "capitalism at work" and developers should just "suck it up" is a specious argument, at best. I pay taxes to support the government, which in turn supports the citizens and corporations here in the US (I'm not interested in addressing whether this is the proper function of govt., that's just how it is right now). These corporations are taking those government granted favors (in the form of subsidies, tax breaks, trade favors, patent and copyright protections, use of infrasturcture resources such as highways, etc etc etc ) and hiring people overseas. Now, if MS or IBM wants to move their headquarters over to India, fine, so be it. But I truly believe it's a crock to take advantage of the pro-business US laws, excellent infrastructure, a competent policing force, and all the other services that developed under our system of capitalism, and then not supporting the community that supports you. I'm not talking handouts or redistribution of wealth, I'm talking about the long-term consequences of this sort of policy. Yes, US software developers cost more, but the cost of that worker is factoring in a lot of "unseen" advantages that are granted to companies founded here.

    The environment that allowed MS and IBM and all the rest to grow and prosper is unique to the United States. These companies would have never happened if they had started in India.

  • by gordoni (7864) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @06:53PM (#8106299) Homepage
    Here is an insightful recent article on outsourcing by George Monbiot [monbiot.com] (one of the world's leading overachievers):

    The Flight to India

    The jobs Britain stole from the Asian subcontinent 300 years ago are now returning. Is this a good thing or a bad one?

    If you live in a rich nation in the English-speaking world, and most of your work involves a computer or a telephone, don't expect to have a job in five years' time. Almost every large company which relies upon remote transactions is starting to dump its workers and hire a cheaper labour force overseas. All those concerned about economic justice and the distribution of wealth at home should despair. All those concerned about global justice and the distribution of wealth around the world should rejoice. As we are, by and large, the same people, we have a problem.

    Britain's industrialisation was secured by destroying the manufacturing capacity of India. In 1699, the British government banned the import of woollen cloth from Ireland, and in 1700 the import of cotton cloth (or calico) from India.1 Both products were forbidden because they were superior to our own. As the industrial revolution was built on the textiles industry, we could not have achieved our global economic dominance if we had let them in. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, India was forced to supply raw materials to Britain's manufacturers, but forbidden to produce competing finished products.2 We are rich because the Indians are poor.

    Now the jobs we stole 300 years ago are returning to India. Last week the Guardian revealed that the National Rail Enquiries service is likely to move to Bangalore, in south-west India. Two days later, the HSBC bank announced that it is cutting 4000 customer service jobs in Britain, and shifting them to Asia. BT, British Airways, Lloyds TSB, Prudential, Standard Chartered, Norwich Union, BUPA, Reuters, Abbey National and Powergen have already begun to move their call centres to India. The British workers at the end of the line are approaching the end of the line.

    There is a profound historical irony here. Indian workers can outcompete British workers today because Britain smashed their ability to compete in the past. Having destroyed India's own industries, the East India Company and the colonial authorities obliged its people to speak our language, adopt our working practices and surrender their labour to multinational corporations. Workers in call centres in Germany and Holland are less vulnerable than ours, as Germany and Holland were less successful colonists, with the result that fewer people in the poor world now speak their languages.

    The impact on British workers will be devastating. Service jobs of the kind now being exported were supposed to make up for the loss of employment in the manufacturing industries which disappeared overseas in the 1980s and 1990s. The government handed out grants for cybersweatshops in places whose industrial workforce had been crushed by the closure of mines, shipyards and steelworks. But the companies running the call centres appear to have been testing their systems at government expense before exporting them somewhere cheaper.

    It is not hard to see why almost all of them have chosen India. The wages of workers in the service and technology industries there are roughly one tenth of those of workers in the same sectors over here. Standards of education are high, and almost all educated Indians speak English. While British workers will take call centre jobs only when they have no choice, Indian workers see them as glamorous.3 One technical support company in Bangalore recently advertised 800 jobs. It received 87,000 applications.4 British call centres moving to India can choose the most charming, patient, biddable, intelligent workers the labour market has to offer.

    There is nothing new about multinational corporations forcing workers in distant parts of the world to undercut each o

  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:07PM (#8106491) Homepage
    So let me get this straight, the low end of the American job market should do to the Mexicans since they are taking "jobs no American's will do", according to the President.

    On the high end of the pay scale, Manufacturing and Skilled Labor, we should let all those jobs go to India, China, Singapore and anywhere else labor is cheap.

    So that leaves the middle, where companies are currently not hiring and slashing middle management by the thousands.

    Now, toss in skyrocketing energy prices. Natural Gas (up 25% from 2003), Gasoline ($1.60/gal). Follow that up with increased health insurance costs which have gone up another 50% or more in 2004 because employers have no incentive to absorb costs in a tight labor market.

    What's the result? DEFLATION! Yes, that's right, that means prices will stagnate as the number of people with disposable income become fewer and fewer. If you kill off the USA economy (#1 economy on the planet) who will buy all products and services from out of the country. No Jobs = No Spending Power.

    Until workers in other countries can afford to buy SUV's, computers, cars, homes, digital cameras, health care, Disney vacations, and daily food the lifestlye and quality of life of the American worker will continue to erode. We need to ditch Free-Trade before the world economy ends up in a ditch.
  • by xot (663131) <fragiledeath.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:13PM (#8106586) Journal
    I work for an Indian call center which does all sorts of processing and telemarketing for clients like Chase,Citi..ec.
    I work as a systems admin at night(USA time), studying for my GMAT in the day along with catching a little sleep.The job gets me about $7000 annually.Yes I am going to study in the USA probably steal another job there, temp or not if I can get it.Does that make me bad?Does that make the whole outsourcing industry bad?Its not the minimum wage factor that I'd like to argue.
    Everyday we get about 5 tasks that were done wrong by some desk jockey in the USA and have to be streamlined and corrected here.(not talking about the actually processing, just simple reports n stuff)
    Ok maybe not everything is that bad but what is a guy like me supposed to do? I earn more than most of my friends..live an ok lifestyle and struggle to save up for future education.This is the typical scenario you find in a IT outsourcing company in India.
    Should I just quit and work as something else? Why would Citi stop Outsourcing when they earn more by outsourcing and get better value for money? Isnt it right that we lobby for Outsourcing in USA?
  • to villianize the US IT workers who are out of work and trying to fight to get their jobs back in the US. Obviously the article was written by someone who supports the corporations' moves to India for IT work. It is the old "blame the victims" tactic.

    I know of many US companies who make a living teaching companies in other countries like India about quality control and the way that US Businesses do business. If Indian companies had good quality, these companies would be out of business and not have business booming. I shall cite some examples of the quality of offshoring below.

    Thing is, most IT workers, such as me, do not blame the people taking our jobs, but the companies making the move to other countries and cutting us loose. This is a global trend that is not going to stop unless there is some law passed against it, which I doubt will happen.

    First it was a Labor Shortage [ucdavis.edu] which was a big lie by the Corporations to get rid of US workers and replace them with H1B Visa workers or outsource to India. Now that there is a surplus of IT Workers, they still claim there is an IT shortage and need to move more jobs overseas.

    Where is the beef? Where is the quality that Indian companies are supposed to have? Apparently they did not have Quality at Dell [com.com] when they moved a Help Desk over to India. Where is the quality in programs written? Security issues are a big risk [computerworld.com] and we are supposed to trust someone we cannot even watch from half a world away that they will not harm source code or be a risk to security?

    Of course there is always hidden Malware [computerworld.com] to consider. Really nice of them to put in a back door or virus or trojan to access the corp system after the Indian programmers are let go when the project is over.

    Oh yeah, the myth that it is cheaper. Consider the Hidden costs of Ofshoring [sfgate.com] nothing like a project going over budget and full of bugs and needing US developers to fit it. Once again, where is the beef? That quality is just not there once again.

    It seems that India is America's silent partner. [businessweek.com] We may not even hear about it during the election year. When a government is more interested in rewriting copyright laws so that the RIAA can sue 13 year-old girls and fair use is out of the picture, I wonder who our politicians really work for? Certainly not the US Citizens, only Corporations. So of course they support the wholesale slaughter of US IT Workers and the export of IT jobs overseas.

    Ah but there is a big risk involved in Offshoring. Sort of like taking all the company stock to Las Vegas and betting it all on number 35 on the Roulette Wheel. :) Just ask those who craft the contracts about the risks involved. [computerworld.com]

    Nice to meet the people that are taking the jobs moved to India. Also nice to know they are not concerned that US Workers are losing their jobs to keep the Indian workers employed. I'd think if I was given a job at someone else's expense that I would quote my religious or culutral references instead as well when asked to respond to that. :)

    Maybe we should personalize the US IT Workers too. Here is Bob, he worked for a Fortune 500 company for the past 15 years developing award winning programs and his work gained the company many patents. Bob holds a Masters in Information Systems. Management decided that he earns too much, so he was terminated and his job was sent with many others over to an IT sweatshop i

  • Boo hoo (Score:5, Flamebait)

    by nickgrieve (87668) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @07:40PM (#8106927) Journal
    I'll shed a tear for the American Programmer the day the American consumer sheds a tear for the sweat shop laborer that made the overprices POS shoes you can afford to pay gross markups for from the likes of Nike.

    Your country profits from the exploitation of child labor and people caught in poverty traps... You there, unemployed developer, reading this... reap what you sow.
  • by swimfastom (216375) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @08:22PM (#8107381) Homepage
    From the third page in the article: "Turner's bill passed the state senate by a 40-to-0 vote. But it got bottled up in the assembly, thanks to the efforts of Indian IT firms and their powerhouse Washington, DC, lobbying firm, Hill & Knowlton."

    Why the hell do we allow Hill & Knowlton [hillandknowlton.com] to greatly influcence our governmental decisions regarding outsourcing U.S. jobs? They have offices in 37 countries around the globe and firmly believe in outsourcing jobs outside the U.S. Our government really needs to stand up to companies like Hill & Knowlton and fight for U.S. jobs.
  • by CustomDesigned (250089) on Tuesday January 27, 2004 @08:28PM (#8107476) Homepage Journal
    So workers in NYC and SFO are way too expensive. This is because it is way too expensive to live in those places. I wouldn't want to live in those places (some people like them, I guess). If a company wants to pay $11000/yr for a talented programmer, what about places in the boonies in America? Appalachia? Arkansas?

    What? The people living there have little education? They don't even know how to use a computer? Well, I'd be glad to live in the sticks and telecommute - just like those Indian workers. While some may prefer the city, I'm sure that quite a few geeks would prefer the sticks, like I do.

    The problem is, the corporation won't let you live in the sticks. They insist that you relocate to the most expensive regions. Then they complain that you are too expensive - because the cost of living in NYC, NoVa, SFO, LAX, etc is so high - and outsource your job to India.

    My distaste for the city prevented my from taking a number of high salary offers. Also partly because the salary wasn't really all that high after talking to people who lived where I would have to move to. My friends were in incredulous that I wouild turn down $90K. But $90K is peanuts in SFO (even 10 years ago when I had the offer). Now I am glad that I stayed away.

    There is really only one fundamental problem preventing cheaper Tech labor in America. Lack of infrastructure. Lack of education can be worked around by moving people like me to low cost areas. This creates more demand for technical education, and more qualified native workers will turn up as local kids get turned on to tech. However, telecommuting requires a decent broadband internet connection. In the sticks, you can't get DSL or Cable, so you have to get T1. That runs $600/mo, which adds $7500 to your salary right off the bat.

  • by crazyphilman (609923) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @03:43AM (#8110617) Journal
    I'm a relatively old fart in this forum; I'm 33 years old, and I've been programming in one language or another since '95. I've been around; I did the comp sci degree, the Y2K effort, the Manhattan, NY, dot-com/dot-bomb experience, some corporate IT, and civil service in a few different organizations. I've been around to watch our field go down the tubes, I have a pretty good understanding of the whys and whens, and I've got some advice for you, so please listen. I might be able to save you some grief.

    First, look at the problem at hand: corporate jobs are going away because of corporate greed and disloyalty. First it'll be IT jobs, then virtually everyone as corporations move everything overseas that CAN be moved. This is nothing new, they did it to the manufacturing sector decades ago. But it IS unique in that once it's gone, that's it. There's nothing left for an ex-corporate type to retrain to except dead-end retail jobs at six bucks an hour.

    So, this is pretty scary. But you CAN keep yourself out of harm's way. You don't have to just let yourself get sidelined.

    First of all, ask yourself: do you really want to work for a corporation? You'll have to sign an IP agreement, a nondisclosure, and a noncompete, so you won't be able to work for anyone else for several years even if you're fired -- this is sort of like indentured servitude. And you'll have to work 60+ hours a week with no overtime pay because they'll write you up as an "exempt" worker. And you'll have some idiot suit breathing down your neck all day, reminding you on a constant basis that "you're lucky to have a job in this economy" (believe it or not, I've heard of this kind of thing from a lot of different people). You'll have to physically restrain yourself from dropping him out the nearest window, which will cause you stress. And you'll have to eventually watch your job go away, maybe even training your replacements.

    So all those corporate jobs sucked anyway. Fuck 'em. Don't even consider them. The only reason corporations are still hiring is that they haven't fully ramped up their outsourcing yet. Why help them while they're still in the process of screwing you and all your friends over? Blow 'em off and get a non-corporate job. Stay in school. Get that Master's degree. Go on to the Ph.D and become a professor. If that's too annoying and your suck-up skills aren't strong enough, get into the IT department of a university near you -- you get all the benefits and none of the headaches of a professor's post. Get into civil service if you can. DISDAIN the corporations. They've earned it.

    If you can't score one of those jobs, try and find something with a small business. Parlay your knowledge of computer science into a position where you'll learn some other trade at the same time. Wear a lot of hats. Be the indispensible local geek who keeps everything running. Small businesses are better than you might think; if nothing else, they would NEVER have the resources to outsource your job. Think about it.

    So, ok, now you have a job. You're eating, you're making your car payments, you're not rich but you're not dead meat either. So, now what, you ask?

    REVENGE.

    Say it with me. "Revenge". Feel how it rolls off your tongue. "Revenge". It's such a happy word, such a WARM word. It LIKES YOU. It's your FRIEND.

    REVENGE.

    Here's how to get one for the little guy, without breaking the law or doing anything that'll get you into trouble.

    1. Don't buy anything from a major corporate outsourcer unless you absolutely have no choice. Or, be obnoxious: buy a Hewlett Packard printer (usually sold at a loss) and buy NON-HP INK. If you need a new laptop, buy it on Ebay, where the money goes into the wallet of one of your neighbors instead of a corporate bank account. Buying music? Buy it used in your local CD shop. Buying a car? Get a used one. BE CHEAP, and be proud of it. Convince everyone you can to be cheap as well. Think grassroots.

    If you're buying an item like a TV, and you don't w
  • by Analysis Paralysis (175834) on Wednesday January 28, 2004 @05:27AM (#8111007)
    A lot of the comments about being "unable to compete" with regard to outsourcing can also be made by commercial software companies trying to compete with Open/Free source software. The answer typically given is that Open/Free software raises the entry level and provides a better starting point for commercial companies to build upon.

    Similarly, Western IT professionals (it is not just the US having to deal with this issue by the way) concerned at this trend should try to acquire a broader-based skillset which includes business and creative as well as "pure" technical skills - and local knowledge that cannot be easily duplicated by an overseas company (in most organisations, it still is a case of not what you know but who you know).

    Also the companies outsourcing are mostly major corporations - which by their nature tend to stifle innovation with bureaucracy. Freeing up their workforce will make it easier for smaller companies to start, recruit, expand and innovate (provided the DOJ manages to rein in Microsoft). And it is only a matter of time before senior management and CEOs find themselves being outsourced (who needs a US-based board of directors when all the real decisions are being taken overseas?).

    Finally, this also provides the English language with a massive boost - India is gaining a real advantage due to their widespread use of English and other nations like China and Vietnam will have to do the same in order to grab a significant slice of the outsourcing pie (French/German/Spanish supremacists beware!).

It appears that PL/I (and its dialects) is, or will be, the most widely used higher level language for systems programming. -- J. Sammet

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