December 7, 2006

On outsourcing and offshoring

I saw an interesting commercial last night. My husband and I looked at each other when we saw it. Today I checked the website. It says the same thing.

Obviously, seeing it annoyed me enough to make me blog about it.

Outsourcing and offshoring. What good does it do?

As someone who came from a "developing" country that benefits from outsourcing and offshoring, I admit I am extremely biased. But how can I not be? There is "brain drain" in my country - educated people leaving in search of greener pastures in "developed" countries. Even I am guilty of that. I left the country to join an international organization when I was 24.

Yes, I've heard and read that outsourcing and offshoring removes potential jobs out of the US. I've also read that with outsourcing and offshoring, you get what you pay for...which seems to imply that if you pay for cheap labor, you get cheap service. Not quite logical and not necessarily true. Labor is cheaper elsewhere, not because the quality of education is substandard, but because the overall standard of living is not comparable to US standards. The mighty dollar is stronger than most Asian currencies. How can our economies compare to such a superpower?

Even the quality of service rendered by the "developing" countries have come under scrutiny. What defines good customer service? Isn't customer service something that can be contextualized?

Before accusing other countries of rendering poor customer service, you don't even need to leave the US to find poor customer service. Poor customer service is poor customer service. It doesn't matter where it happens because it happens everywhere. What's more, if service from these other countries were so lousy, don't you think the head honchos from the US would continue having their operations there? Of course not! Customer service is also something that comes naturally. Familiar with the Asian hospitality? Yes? There you go.

I look at it this way:
Developed countries have long benefited from the skills and talents of educated people from developing countries.
Developing countries have long suffered from this brain drain.

Now things are changing. The educated from the developing countries need not leave their home countries to find jobs. The thing is, in my country, the main issue is simply to find and get jobs. If the jobs are well-paying, well and good. If outsourcing and offshoring keeps people in my country from leaving, if it improves the overall quality of life, why not? If we look at the economy in a global context, isn't it a good sign that opportunities are now available worldwide? It's mutually beneficial, really. These countries are offering something important - an educated workforce, their intellectual capital. In return, the US gives them jobs.

100% North American-based technical support indeed.