What won't be outsourced

31 Jan 2005 - 3:34pm
9 years ago
34 replies
934 reads
Elizabeth Buie
2004

David Heller writes:

>What won't be outsourced ... Ever?

Classified or otherwise sensitive government projects.

Possibly also, proprietary company projects.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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Comments

31 Jan 2005 - 4:26pm
Manu Sharma
2003

David Heller writes:
>What won't be outsourced ... Ever?

Elizabeth Buie responds:
> Classified or otherwise sensitive government projects.

This is perhaps arguable in view of the recent undertaking by the
American Government in which a fairly sensitive govt project was partly
outsourced to the rest of the [*developed*] world.

But away from the murky area of world politics and outsourced wars,
there's a simple rule of thumb one can follow to predict what kind of
regular jobs *can* be outsourced.

"Any job in which most of the work involves a computer or a telephone,"
says George Monbiot.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1067344,00.html

Manu.

31 Jan 2005 - 4:35pm
Dave Malouf
2005

When I asked the question, I was thinking that the closer you get to being
the business owner, the harder it is to outsource it, completely. You can
ask for strategic consulting, but the final decision making on choice and
implementation will be the business owners. Though I have seen CFOs being
outsourced. :)

-- dave

3 Feb 2005 - 3:35am
Anirudha Joshi
2003

Dave wrote> When I asked the question, I was thinking that the closer you
get to being the business owner, the harder it is to outsource it,
completely. You can ask for strategic consulting, but the final decision
making on choice and implementation will be the business owners.

In our discussion, are some of us intuitively assuming that outsourcing is
generally bad? One need not assume this. For those who are on the other
side, outsourcing can mean more business. From the designers' point of
view, why should that make a difference? As long as a designer gets to
design and gets paid his dues, does it matter? As we say in Marathi - [the
ice-cream] on the plate is the same as [the ice-cream] in the bowl.

All the same, it is my opinion that in the long run, 'outsourcing' design
is at best temporary activity or one-time activity in certain businesses.
For example, a start-up software product company (with clear-minded people
at the top) will outsource its interaction design needs until it can set
up a good design group internally. Or a bank will outsource its website
design work because (it hopes) it is a one-time activity.

Beyond a point and on the long run, the 'external' consultant is always
more expensive than the 'internal' employee. Of course, she brings in a
fresh perspective and one does not have to maintain her high overheads in
downtimes. But if you need her always and continuously, it is cheaper to
get her on the payrolls.

Moving work to a cheaper country is an entirely different matter
altogether (did some people call that 'off-shoring'). That is a business
decision, and no work, including design, should be an exception. If it
saves money, it makes sense to move work. Of course there will be the
teething troubles - like the posts about Sapient suggests. But one better
get over those and find good ways of making it work over the distance. If
one doesn’t, someone else might. (Some already have, I might add, without
getting into naming names).

Anirudha

3 Feb 2005 - 11:03pm
Coryndon Luxmoore
2004

Anirudha said:
>In our discussion, are some of us intuitively assuming that outsourcing is
>generally bad?

At least in the US the terms outsourcing and offshoring are used pretty much
interchangeably. So it can lead to some confusion in our discussions.
Generally these are seen negative since what both of them translate directly
into a rapid elimination of jobs in the local community. Most companies
don't just outsource to local firms but ones that are frequently in other
states or countries. This means the community can lose a huge number of jobs
essentially overnight. The speed at with witch this happens can destroy
local economies and devastate individual and family lives. So these effects
are inextricably linked to the terms making them perceived as negative by
many.

Of course for the community that receives these jobs it is a great because
it is an equally positive influence.

>All the same, it is my opinion that in the long run, 'outsourcing' design
>is at best temporary activity or one-time activity in certain
>businesses....Or a bank will outsource its website design work because (it
>hopes) it is a one-time activity.

I have not seen this as true. Many businesses will outsource anything that
is not "core" to their business and many things that are. I personally have
worked on many projects for the same companies who never build the
capability in house.

>Beyond a point and on the long run, the 'external' consultant is always
>more expensive than the 'internal' employee.

The consultant is expensive in the sort term but businesses value having
costs that are not fixed. If I pay twice as much for a person or service but
I can get rid of them tomorrow when I don't need them or I need to save some
cash there is a tremendous advantage. Of course many outside consultants or
outsourced companies are cheaper than the fixed costs of having internal
employees making this flexibility even more appealing. This is one of the
key driving forces behind outsourcing.

Key forces that prevent this from happening revolve around quality, local
knowledge, and cultural understanding of the business

>Moving work to a cheaper country is an entirely different matter
>altogether (did some people call that 'off-shoring'). That is a business
>decision, and no work, including design, should be an exception. If it
>saves money, it makes sense to move work.

See impacts noted above. This gets into the debate about social and ethical
implications or our decisions and corporate responsibility. It saves money
if I kill anyone who is developmentally disabled. That does not make it a
good or right.

--Coryndon

7 Feb 2005 - 9:27am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Coryndon Luxmoore wrote:

<<At least in the US the terms outsourcing and offshoring are used pretty
much
interchangeably.>>

I encountered the term "outsourcing" some ten years ago, and in the last
year have been quite surprised to realize that people meant "outsourcing
to a foreign company" when they said it. The company for which I work has
three major "global services" -- consulting, systems integration, and
outsourcing -- and we do *not* necessarily mean that the work goes
offshore. Sometimes it may, but (in my experience) usually not.

I think it's important to distinguish between the two.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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7 Feb 2005 - 10:20am
Dave Malouf
2005

I agree w/ Elizabeth that "outsource" does not have to (and actually usually
doesn't) equate to "offshore".

Offshoring is a special kind of outsourcing.

I still think though that my original question is still valid. Because
whether I outsource locally or outsource internationally, I'm still going
"outtie" for work that I have determined to not be valuable enough that I
have to own it.

Again, I still stand that the closer you get to the business decision making
apparatus the less likely you will see that piece being outsourced (inshore
or offshore).

-- dave

7 Feb 2005 - 12:22pm
Manu Sharma
2003

Dave:
"Again, I still stand that the closer you get to the business decision
making apparatus the less likely you will see that piece being
outsourced "

Come on Dave, you can't keep saying that. Isn't that bleeding OBVIOUS!
Think about it. You're saying business owners aren't going to outsource
themselves. *Of course* they aren't!

*Obviously*, the best way to prevent yourself from getting the pink
slip is to be one who gives it. Now, where's the insight in that?

Manu.

"Common sense isn't."
(bugmenot.com)

7 Feb 2005 - 12:48pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

MS> Come on Dave, you can't keep saying that. Isn't that bleeding OBVIOUS!
MS> Think about it. You're saying business owners aren't going to outsource
MS> themselves. *Of course* they aren't!

Really? :-)

There was a pretty good article about outsourcing in the Atlantic
Monthly a couple of issues back. I cannot get to the full text
version right now, but if anyone can, please share it, it's a good
read: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200411/murphy

Here is an excerpt:

"It would be a mistake to think of outsourcing as simply an
economic transaction; it is a universal tendency, like gravity, that
exerts a pull on everything. It may be helpful to think in terms of a
fourth law of thermodynamics. The first law, you'll recall, holds that
the amount of matter and energy in the universe is constant. The
second holds that the default direction of everything is toward
entropy. The third law
well, never mind. The fourth law, newly
postulated, holds that outsourcing—getting others to do things for
you—is the intrinsic vector of all human activity."

Lada

7 Feb 2005 - 12:50pm
Pradyot Rai
2004

David Heller <dave at ixdg.org> wrote:
> Again, I still stand that the closer you get to the business decision making
> apparatus the less likely you will see that piece being outsourced (inshore
> or offshore).

According to Thomas A. Stewart in his book -- Intellectual Capital
(1997), this is explained with a simple matrix "Value Add" to customer
Vs "Replaceable Skills".

Those in the quadrant with "high value add to customer" and "difficult
to replace skills" are called "core" employees. And when CIOs are
deciding whom to keep and whom to outsource, they retain the core
skills in-house. Core employee is less likely to be defined if he is
closer to the business decision making apparatus.

Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations --
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385482280/002-8247604-8771202

Prady

7 Feb 2005 - 1:16pm
Manu Sharma
2003

Lada:
"There was a pretty good article about outsourcing in the Atlantic
Monthly a couple of issues back. I cannot get to the full text version
right now, but if anyone can, please share it, it's a good read."

I've put the full-text version in a 10 kb Word [.rtf] file:
http://orangehues.com/atlantic.rtf

Manu.

7 Feb 2005 - 1:27pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Actually, there are examples of people as close to decisions makers like
CFOs who are outside consultants, but in general you are right ...

I think the point I was trying to make is that design and thus designers
need to move their skillset closer tot he core of the business, so that we
are not relegated to internal service agencies.

-- dave

On 2/7/05 12:22 PM, "Manu Sharma" <manu at orangehues.com> wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
> Come on Dave, you can't keep saying that. Isn't that bleeding OBVIOUS!
> Think about it. You're saying business owners aren't going to outsource
> themselves. *Of course* they aren't!

7 Feb 2005 - 1:30pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Dave,

What do you think early retirement is? Sounds like outsourcing to me!

:-)

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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7 Feb 2005 - 1:43pm
Manu Sharma
2003

Dave:
"I think the point I was trying to make is that design and thus
designers need to move their skillset closer to the core of the
business, so that we are not relegated to internal service agencies."

Absolutely. No arguments about that.

Manu.

7 Feb 2005 - 1:47pm
Wendy Fischer
2004

My view on outsourcing/offshoring is its going to bite all these companies in the butt and they are going to have to take it back inhouse or take it to countries where the business language is the same as the original country's native language.

My company is oursourcing it's gui development to China to a company R&D company owned center. I think currently half my time is spent QAing the quality of the work and the creative interpretations from the chinese developers. My builds mutate on a daily basis. My excitement each day is looking forward to see what will be creatively interpreted next....

-Wendy

Elizabeth Buie <ebuie at csc.com> wrote:
[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Dave,

What do you think early retirement is? Sounds like outsourcing to me!

:-)

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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7 Feb 2005 - 2:02pm
James Melzer
2004

As part of this discussion, we should also keep in mind that
organizational change (the dreaded re-org) is the natural state for
virtually every organization of substantial size. There is are no
industry standards for the structure of a company. Divisions? Matrix?
Conglomerate? All fads. All ephemeral. Anyone who says they've found
the perfect organization for their industry is self-deluded - there is
no prefect structure for any industry. Everything is compromise, so
you pick your path and align your org to it as best you can. When the
path changes, so must the organization.

Outsourcing will become part of the ebb and flow of the constant
reorganization cycle. Companies will outsource to save on costs. Then
they will bring those jobs home in the name of quality or patriotism
or whatever. Just wait a few years.

It will also be interesting to see what happens when European and
North American populations start to shrink. With so many companies
organized around growth, we should expect a whole new ecology of org
structures to deal with corporate shrinkage...

~ James

On Mon, 7 Feb 2005 10:47:52 -0800 (PST), Wendy Fischer
<erpdesigner at yahoo.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> My view on outsourcing/offshoring is its going to bite all these companies in the butt and they are going to have to take it back inhouse or take it to countries where the business language is the same as the original country's native language.
>
> My company is oursourcing it's gui development to China to a company R&D company owned center. I think currently half my time is spent QAing the quality of the work and the creative interpretations from the chinese developers. My builds mutate on a daily basis. My excitement each day is looking forward to see what will be creatively interpreted next....
>
> -Wendy
>
> Elizabeth Buie <ebuie at csc.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Dave,
>
> What do you think early retirement is? Sounds like outsourcing to me!
>
> :-)
>
> Elizabeth
> --
> Elizabeth Buie
> Computer Sciences Corporation
> Rockville, Maryland, USA
> +1.301.921.3326
>
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7 Feb 2005 - 3:21pm
Manu Sharma
2003

Hi James,

I disagree quite a bit here.

James: "organizational change (the dreaded re-org) is the natural state
for virtually every organization of substantial size."

Change is certainly NOT the natural state of the organisation. Large
organisations are often compared with elephants. Big, powerful but
inflexible and slow to move. Change is the *solution* that consultants
fight for. It doesn't come naturally to companies. Nobody likes change.
"We've *always* done it this way and we are a __ billion organisation."
is the common refrain. Status quo is the natural state of the
organisation.

If you pick up any management text including Christensen's The
Innovator's Dilemma, this is a common thread. Large, successful firms
that disappear without a trace by failing to spot/ adapt to the
changing dynamics of an industry or a market. This is precisely why
start-ups are a threat to larger companies.

All the fads you cite weren't fads at all. Departmentalisation
[grouping activities by function, if that's what you meant by
divisions] is still a popular organisational structure. Conglomerates
haven't disappeared and matirx design is still widely used in many ad
agencies, R&D labs and several industries.

James: "Outsourcing will become part of the ebb and flow of the
constant reorganization cycle. Companies will outsource to save on
costs. Then they will bring those jobs home in the name of quality or
patriotism"

Outsourcing, once the momentum picks up, isn't going to be a reversible
process. We haven't seen it happen in the manufacturing sector that
began outsourcing in the 70s so there's no reason to believe it will
happen in services. There will always be exceptions including companies
that derive value from doing it inhouse but overall it just won't be
affordable as cost competition increases. Nobody likes outsourcing but
everyone wants a $10 DVD player. Try telling Wal-Mart to move it's
manufacturing to US.

James: "It will also be interesting to see what happens when European
and North American populations start to shrink."

Yes, it'll be very interesting. I don't know anything about this but I
hear there are all kinds of dreadful scenarios [1].

Manu.

[1] Patrick Buchanan's "The Death of the West"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0312285485
Article expanding that thesis
http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/feb/05kak.htm

7 Feb 2005 - 3:54pm
kjnarey
2004

James Melzer wrote:

>Outsourcing will become part of the ebb and flow of the constant
>reorganization cycle. Companies will outsource to save on costs. Then
>they will bring those jobs home in the name of quality or patriotism
>or whatever. Just wait a few years.

Interesting approach and quite possible, but cynical nonetheless. I'm
curious as to why outsourcing is perceived to be a negative though. As I
understand it, this is a corporate opportunity for developing countries the
world over to enjoy the distribution of wealth and create a globally
competitive market - regardless of the perceived or actual value
proposition.

I know that as soon as my company decided to look into outsourcing,
offshoring, nearshoring, etc I felt compelled to improve my market specific
business knowledge (SCM, ERP, CRM in the Automotive space)* rendering me
less of a 'commodity' (those roles contributing to software development) in
the marketplace. This is probably an in-house issue however.

*
ERP - Enterprise Resource Planning
SCM - Supply Chain Management
CRM - Customer Relationship Management

Off topic.....

I saw the excellent EPIC piece in an earlier thread and wondered where the
IxD space was going in the next five to ten years. There is increasingly
abundant evidence showing that the User Experience is of significant
business importance in many areas of technology although I've seen little
academic or corporate evidence that IxD is being coupled with true AI.
Links? Examples?

Kevin

7 Feb 2005 - 4:33pm
James Melzer
2004

Manu,

Name some companies we've heard of that haven't changed their org
structure (which includes not merging or acquiring anything) for more
than ten years. Huge, successful companies like GE, Dupont and GM
have reorganized every decade, on average, for the past century.

I agree with you - management consulting, and its adjuct the
management book industry, exists to help companies deal with change.

And by the way, how is it that Toyota manages to make such a huge
profit compared to their competitors while moving a significant
portion of their manufacturing capacity INTO the US? I'm not saying
outsourcing overseas won't happen, I'm just saying it isn't the only
way, which means we need to expect give and take over the long term.
Not just take.

~ James

On Mon, 7 Feb 2005 20:54:04 -0000, kjnarey <asow73 at dsl.pipex.com> wrote:
> James Melzer wrote:
>
> >Outsourcing will become part of the ebb and flow of the constant
> >reorganization cycle. Companies will outsource to save on costs. Then
> >they will bring those jobs home in the name of quality or patriotism
> >or whatever. Just wait a few years.
>
> Interesting approach and quite possible, but cynical nonetheless. I'm
> curious as to why outsourcing is perceived to be a negative though. As I
> understand it, this is a corporate opportunity for developing countries the
> world over to enjoy the distribution of wealth and create a globally
> competitive market - regardless of the perceived or actual value
> proposition.
>
> I know that as soon as my company decided to look into outsourcing,
> offshoring, nearshoring, etc I felt compelled to improve my market specific
> business knowledge (SCM, ERP, CRM in the Automotive space)* rendering me
> less of a 'commodity' (those roles contributing to software development) in
> the marketplace. This is probably an in-house issue however.
>
> *
> ERP - Enterprise Resource Planning
> SCM - Supply Chain Management
> CRM - Customer Relationship Management
>
> Off topic.....
>
> I saw the excellent EPIC piece in an earlier thread and wondered where the
> IxD space was going in the next five to ten years. There is increasingly
> abundant evidence showing that the User Experience is of significant
> business importance in many areas of technology although I've seen little
> academic or corporate evidence that IxD is being coupled with true AI.
> Links? Examples?
>
> Kevin
>
>

7 Feb 2005 - 5:31pm
Manu Sharma
2003

James:
"Name some companies we've heard of that haven't changed their org
structure (which includes not merging or acquiring anything) for more
than ten years. Huge, successful companies like GE, Dupont and GM have
reorganized every decade, on average, for the past century."

At the beginning of the last century there were of 5000 railway
companies in America. Today only about 50 of those exist. Out of 2000
car firms at that time less than 20 are around. The reason the
companies you cite are still around, is becuase _they changed_.

I'm saying that change is indeed critical to survival but if you look
at the large business landscape, change is far far from "second nature"
to a typical organisation. The opposite is in fact true.

James:
"And by the way, how is it that Toyota manages to make such a huge
profit compared to their competitors while moving a significant portion
of their manufacturing capacity INTO the US?"

By continuosly increasing assembly line effeciency, by adopting "lean"
manufacturing and perhaps other methods, I can't say. The automotive
sector isn't an ideal industry for outsourcing parts becuase the
quality factor plays an extremely critical role [though these
reservations are changing as well].

But look across the clothing industry that began outsourcing in the 70s
with the MFA agreement and has been expanding ever since. There isn't
one large apparel firm that doesn't offshore work to Asia or Latin
America. The hardware industry. Dell has no manufacturing plants of its
own. It did invest in a plant in the US but if I'm correct, that just
assembles parts. A lot of large organisations even in the service
sector have been outsourcing functions like payroll mgt for over 15
years. According to a 1993 survey, 70% of the Fortune 100 companies did
engage in some kind of outsourcing.

James:
"I'm not saying outsourcing overseas won't happen, I'm just saying it
isn't the only way, which means we need to expect give and take over
the long term. Not just take."

I'm not aware of any systemic movement of outsourcing jobs during the
last 2-3 decades in the above industries back to the country where they
originated. There's a very good reason why. Once you get the cost
advantage with outsourcing, you pass some share of it on to the
customer and gain a competitive edge. Which in turn increases
competition and drives other players to cut costs and lower their
prices as well. This process cannot be reversed!! It might stop at some
level but by then the entire industry is so dependent upon the
advantages of reduced costs of outsourcing that to move work inshore
means getting out of business. This is an economic reality.

Manu.

8 Feb 2005 - 4:15pm
Anirudha Joshi
2003

Wendy Fischer: My view on outsourcing/offshoring is its going to bite
all these companies in the butt and they are going to have to take it
back inhouse...

I agree with Wendy and Dave on outsourcing - most design being core and
strategic to the business will remain in-house, unless the company does
not have expertise. One would dabble with an occasional consultant, a
student design competition perhaps to get some cool ideas flowing in,
but essentially in-house.

However, in-house could still mean off-shore. Microsoft Research just
set up a research lab in, where else, Bangalore. HP Labs has had one for
three years. Nokia does lot of work from their China labs. List goes
on... The point is, all of these are still in-house, still strategic.

BTW, if a company is multinational (MNCs as we call them here), and do a
lot of their work all over the world, will you still call it
'off'shoring?

Wendy Fischer: My company is oursourcing it's gui development to
China... I think currently half my time is spent QAing the quality of
the work and the creative interpretations from the chinese developers.
My builds mutate on a daily basis...

Now that is exactly the kind of problem I call 'a teething problem'. But
Wendy, (and others who are facing such problems), this is where your
next creative input is required. How can you make this system work? If
you can, you will certainly be the next winner.

BTW, this is one of the three questions we are asking our participants
in an industry-sharing workshop this Saturday
http://www.idc.iitb.ac.in/~anirudha/workshopsHCI-SE1.htm . It is a bit
local, India-centric, being the first of its kind here, we wanted to
keep it small. So didn't post it earlier on this list. But I am sure
many general interest issues my get discussed and we plan to do more
such, depending on the response. Will keep you all posted.

Coryndon said: ...So these effects are inextricably linked to the terms
making them perceived as negative by many. Of course for the community
that receives these jobs it is a great because it is an equally positive
influence...

Yes, absolutely. Further, it also adds to the digital divide in the
community that receives the jobs (between the tech-savvy who get the job
and the tech-yvvas who don't). On the whole though, the positive effects
hopefully more than cancel out the negative in good measure, and one
hopes for an overall net-gain (cost-savings + wealth creation in poorer
communities => more equality in the world => other good things e.g. less
terrorism etc.).

Of course, off-shoring cannot go on for ever, one hopes. The developing
countries will not stay poor for ever. Eventually, the differences in
the world will reduce significantly (and yes, technology is playing a
big role here), costs will become equivalent or comparable, and some
jobs will move back. But is it a 5-year cycle? Too optimistic, I would
say, from both sides of off-shoring. Sounds more like a 20-year cycle,
and still optimistic.

Anirudha

8 Feb 2005 - 5:46am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

"No logo" by Naomi Klein is an intelligtent and controversial book
on outsoursing, anti-globalisation, branging, etc.

It's worth reading whether or not you share the author's view. Too
much ideology for my taste, but plenty of food for thought, too.

See Amazon reviews at http://snipurl.com/cm3y

Lada

8 Feb 2005 - 5:58am
Narey, Kevin
2004

Lada wrote:

>"No logo" by Naomi Klein is an intelligtent and controversial book on
outsoursing

I too have read this, and whilst the arguments presented are intensely
thought provoking it's a little too militant/subjective for my palate.
Interesting examples in there on the already well publicised exploitation in
the labour market by Nike et al. Heavy going and political. This thread
could be heading that way too....

Forget Gartner/McKinsey et al, what about us? Where will IxDers fit into the
big scheme in the next five to ten years given that outsourcing is now 2-3
years into it's cycle...

Kevin

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8 Feb 2005 - 6:28am
Manu Sharma
2003

Lada:
""No logo" by Naomi Klein is an intelligtent and controversial book on
outsoursing, anti-globalisation, branding, etc. It's worth reading
whether or not you share the author's view. Too much ideology for my
taste, but plenty of food for thought, too."

Too damn much ideology. And not just that, the book shows a vehement
disgust for institutions. Complete lack of discussion on a search for a
solution or alternatives. Just browbeating of anti-globalisation
propaganda. It's analogous to Micheal Moorrish one-sided view of
reality. No Logo demands nothing short of an armed global rebellion
from its readers.

This theme is reflected in Naomi's most recent production, a
documentary film -- "The Take" in which she fulfills her wish by
actually covering such a rebellion [in Argentina].

No Logo a bit dated and I'd hardly characterise it as a book on
outsourcing as the current debate defines it. It's more of a scathing
attack on cpitalism and everything from brading, globalisation to
consumerism associated with it.

I couldn't finish the book.

A trailer from "The Take" demonstrates the disturbing alternative
relaity Naomi Klein is seeking.
http://www.hellocoolworld.com/TheTake/Trailer/TheTakeWINMEDIA.wmv [6mb]

Manu.

8 Feb 2005 - 6:54am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

MS> Too damn much ideology. And not just that, the book shows a vehement
MS> disgust for institutions. Complete lack of discussion on a search for a
MS> solution or alternatives. Just browbeating of anti-globalisation
MS> propaganda. It's analogous to Micheal Moorrish one-sided view of
MS> reality. No Logo demands nothing short of an armed global rebellion
MS> from its readers.

It's a very powerful book then, if it can trigger reactions like
this :-)

In fact, if you look behind the ideology of many authors, including
Naomi Klein and Michael Moor, you'll find lots of essence, too.
But it's *your* skill of seeing, not just looking. They are damn
good at steering your emotions. Well, be damn good at exercising the
analytical part of your brain, too.

Before Dave slaps my wrist for diverting list's attention from IxD
topics, please address any following comments to my recommendation
of "No logo" book to me personally. Apologies, if mentioning the book
in the context of this discussion caused any tension. My intent was
to suggest a controversial read that I disagreed with, but found
interesting and useful nonetheless when attending to it analytically.

Lada

8 Feb 2005 - 9:33am
Ben Hunt
2004

>> Of course, off-shoring cannot go on for ever, one hopes.

Certainly not in the current direction of flow.. I wonder if there will
come a time when everyone in India, China, Russia and Brazil is working
in high-tech industries, and these corporations "offshore" their work to
the Bay Area?

I'm resigned to the fact that the flow of brain-jobs to India is a
natural consequence of the UK's aggressive colonisation of that country.
We took our culture and language to India, and pillaged her natural
resources. Now we're paying back the debt in our natural resources -
service jobs!

From my own political perspective, I'm happy with the justice in this,
*but* I choose not to recognise it as "off-shoring" or "out-sourcing".
These terms depend on an implicit point of view. What's the scale of the
community beyond which something becomes out-sourced? If we choose, in
place of a national economy or other politico-economic region, to
recognise a global community, then the phenomenon disappears. Once we
choose the perspective of the global economy, then opportunities
increase not only for our wider communities of interest around the
world, they theoretically increase for us all!

Why shouldn't I expect to find myself hired by an Indian company to work
on a new interaction product? I'm confident in the skills that I've
gained from my privileged Western position, but I'm not going to take
that advantage for granted and sit whining about "our" jobs being given
to "them". No! Their jobs are our jobs, because they're us. I'm choosing
to spend that energy instead ploughing on with the possibilities of
where we can advance next, and I hope that by doing that we'll all get
richer and happier.

Peace,

Ben

8 Feb 2005 - 10:12am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

I have recently fired EarthLink as my home DSL provider because in the
last year or so its tech support (which was never awesome) had become
unbearably miserable. Soon after I fired them, I learned that the company
had offshored its tech support to India.

Do I think there's a connection? Probably.

Do I see it as an indication of the relative competence of the US and
India? Absolutely not.

I see it as an EarthLink failure -- the company failed to provide its new
tech support staff with adequate information, training, and procedures to
meet their callers' needs.

I do think that sending any work to any long-distance location (whether
offshore or just out of town) presents challenges for communication and
collaboration, which have to be addressed and resolved before the
arrangement can be effective and efficient.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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8 Feb 2005 - 10:14am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Kevin Narey writes:

<<outsourcing is now 2-3
years into it's cycle...>>

I take it you mean offshore outsourcing.

Outsourcing is far older than that.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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8 Feb 2005 - 10:28am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

James Meltzer wrote:

<<how is it that Toyota manages to make such a huge
profit compared to their competitors while moving a significant
portion of their manufacturing capacity INTO the US?>>

And into Canada.

My guess would be that they save on shipping; after all, the cars they
build in North America are for North American customers, who constitute a
large segment of their market.

Subaru has plants in the US, too.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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8 Feb 2005 - 10:30am
Anjali Arora, NYU
2004

True, and these challenges are on all sides. For those of us who know better than to gloat over the bulk of jobs going to our countries such as India (or China & elsewhere), it is clear that these jobs particularly call-center jobs are pretty dehumanizing if not outrightly degrading. The support staffer sitting bleary-eyed in a call center in India at 1AM has to merrily greet his Western caller with a cheerful Good Morning, has to identify himself as Pat & not Karan who he really is, has to artificially put on an American accent. A huge leap for anyone.

A professor at NYU that I know recently spent three months studying these call centers in India, & came back utterly depressed & beaten from the experience. If India is reaping the benefits of globalization this way & worse, being the envy of source countries, something is wrong somewhere.

-Anjali

> I do think that sending any work to any long-distance location (whether
> offshore or just out of town) presents challenges for communication and
> collaboration, which have to be addressed and resolved before the
> arrangement can be effective and efficient.
>
> Elizabeth

8 Feb 2005 - 11:38am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

AAN> these jobs particularly call-center jobs are pretty dehumanizing
AAN> if not outrightly degrading. The support staffer sitting
AAN> bleary-eyed in a call center in India at 1AM has to merrily greet
AAN> his Western caller with a cheerful Good Morning, has to identify
AAN> himself as Pat & not Karan who he really is, has to artificially
AAN> put on an American accent. A huge leap for anyone.

I don't see how sitting in India at 1am to merrily greet a customer is
more degrading than merrily greeting a customer in a US call centre
on 3pm Christmas Day. Paramedics should feel "denumanising" treating
someone's stupid suicide attempt at any time, I guess.

That's a JOB. People do jobs either because they like them (soul,
brain, money) or because they cannot find anything better. Leaving
aside the "like" scenario, if Karan-s didn't have their dehumanising
call centre jobs, would their life be better or worse? If better, home
come they don't do what's better for them? If worse, how dehumanising
is it really to have the best job one can get in given conditions?

My Indian friends (non-representative sample) say these jobs are cool
- apart from money (good salaries for local standards), it's a free
training of one's tongues and ears. Apparently, some think that a
good command of English (hey, with native American accent, I cannot
afford this!) can boost their career chances a lot.

With a tiny exception, all Chinese-born I met through work (advanced
degrees, smartest jobs possible) identify themselves with Western
names. *They* don't have to do that. But they do - because remembering
(yet alone pronouncing) foreign names is difficult. It's perfectly
respectable (IMHO = in my humble opinion) to help others to
communicate with you easily. And it's much less respectable (IMHO) to
get all touchy-feely when someone cannot pronounce you name in a
regional accent of your birthplace.

Lada

8 Feb 2005 - 1:10pm
Dave Malouf
2005

http://news.com.com/Made+in+lower-cost+America/2100-1022_3-5562732.html?tag=
nefd.lede

I thought the above link was relevant to the conversation (at least from a
US-centric point of view)

-- dave

8 Feb 2005 - 3:51pm
Anjali Arora, NYU
2004

Well, its all about perspective, & what is okay with one & what is not. I
certainly feel it is degrading when the person at the call center is being
trained in assorted tactics of the softer kind to have a better fit with the
callers from source countries, mainly changing one's identity; and yet often
times the caller at this end just shakes his head in frustration that he is
not being understood etc. Yes the money is good, & that may be part of the
problem too: it could lull these youngsters into a false sense of
achievement, inducing them to give up studies, secure that their new-found
'eyes-and-ears' skills will take them places. To my mind, these are
short-sighted approaches, & may already be having a profound effect on the
direction youngsters in these countries take in the years to come. There are
hundreds of what-if scenarios one could paint here, but I too am mindful of
David's ire!!

And come on, the issue is not about sitting up at 3AM in a call center;
everyday I see enormously hardworking american youngsters, balancing
assorted jobs & studies. The issue is of having to cloak one's identity,
change one's name in order to be acceptable, to speak & act in totally
unnatural ways. And unlike the Chinese & other Asians who largely
voluntarily change their names to ease their everyday passage here, in the
case of call centers there is no choice. This is how the corporation needs
its business to be handled!! And no, I am not at all anti-business,
anti-corporate, it is just that as a corporate leader, one can have a more
nuanced & sensitive approach to things. Maybe not these days, seeing the
squeeze every business is under.

So these are complex issues, and need to be seen as such. It still pains me
to see people forced to change their names & identities in this manner.

Back to design matters now!!
-Anjali

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lada Gorlenko" <lada at acm.org>
To: "'IxD Discussion'"
<discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2005 11:38 AM
Subject: Re[2]: [ID Discuss] What won't be outsourced

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
material.]
>
> AAN> these jobs particularly call-center jobs are pretty dehumanizing
> AAN> if not outrightly degrading. The support staffer sitting
> AAN> bleary-eyed in a call center in India at 1AM has to merrily greet
> AAN> his Western caller with a cheerful Good Morning, has to identify
> AAN> himself as Pat & not Karan who he really is, has to artificially
> AAN> put on an American accent. A huge leap for anyone.
>
> I don't see how sitting in India at 1am to merrily greet a customer is
> more degrading than merrily greeting a customer in a US call centre
> on 3pm Christmas Day. Paramedics should feel "denumanising" treating
> someone's stupid suicide attempt at any time, I guess.
>
> That's a JOB. People do jobs either because they like them (soul,
> brain, money) or because they cannot find anything better. Leaving
> aside the "like" scenario, if Karan-s didn't have their dehumanising
> call centre jobs, would their life be better or worse? If better, home
> come they don't do what's better for them? If worse, how dehumanising
> is it really to have the best job one can get in given conditions?
>
> My Indian friends (non-representative sample) say these jobs are cool
> - apart from money (good salaries for local standards), it's a free
> training of one's tongues and ears. Apparently, some think that a
> good command of English (hey, with native American accent, I cannot
> afford this!) can boost their career chances a lot.
>
> With a tiny exception, all Chinese-born I met through work (advanced
> degrees, smartest jobs possible) identify themselves with Western
> names. *They* don't have to do that. But they do - because remembering
> (yet alone pronouncing) foreign names is difficult. It's perfectly
> respectable (IMHO = in my humble opinion) to help others to
> communicate with you easily. And it's much less respectable (IMHO) to
> get all touchy-feely when someone cannot pronounce you name in a
> regional accent of your birthplace.
>
> Lada
>
> _______________________________________________
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8 Feb 2005 - 4:01pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Anjali Arora writes:

<<It still pains me
to see people forced to change their names & identities in this manner.>>

I can see that!

It disturbed me as an EarthLink customer to hear everyone in tech support
(and I called about six times in three days) give me Anglo-sounding names
and speak with Indian accents. (Faint though the accents usually were,
they were noticeable.) I felt that EarthLink was trying to fool me, and I
was offended. I would not have objected to speaking to a call center in
Upper Slobovia if they had been able to give me adequate support.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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9 Feb 2005 - 8:23am
Susie Robson
2004

Interestingly, I just recently read an article about a company in India that is outsourcing their work to somewhere here in the states. They hadn't decided on which location but the town I grew up in is one of the choices (in Michigan). So, apparently offshoring in reverse can and will happen. If I remember correctly, it was assembly line plant work though.

Susie

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