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Best Of Listening Post: Offshore Outsourcing

Tired of being talked at? Feel like you're talking to the wall? Our online forum lets you share opinions, tips, and tricks. Here are some of the more interesting excerpts.

Grousing about IT jobs lost to immigrants and overseas workers turned to anger as the industry crash worsened, and now the ill will shows every sign of becoming a mainstream political issue. One of the most-active discussions in InformationWeek.com's Listening Post online forum is domestic job losses.

It would be a mistake to categorize the emotion displayed as simple xenophobia--although that absolutely is a recurring theme. Echoing sentiments heard in decades past from iron and auto workers, participants say business owners are cynically laying off U.S. staff and managers in favor of lower-paid noncitizens to bolster the bottom line.

"I feel as though, if we don't watch out, our country will soon be a hollow shell controlled by outsiders because we sold our soul for the almighty short-term gain. It's a real problem and someone had better start paying attention," says "Unemp USA IT Worker." Unemp is one of many people debating not only the wisdom of outsourcing but the virtues of Indian culture itself at informationweek.com/930/lp_implode.htm.

"Vikram Kamath," who takes the Indian perspective in this commendably civil string, says,

"Protectionism is futile and not a long-term solution. No one can take it easy anymore. They have to compete with other people in terms of technology knowledge as well as pricing."

In another string (informationweek.com/949/lp_bush.htm), "Corey Goode" is demanding an apology from the President.

"Today, President Bush blamed jobs going overseas on American workers not keeping their skills current, a euphemism for laziness. This could not be further from the truth. Most of us are totally current on all industry certifica- tions and have excellent experience in our fields. In many cases, we actually train our H-1 or H-1B replacements whose only higher qualification is that they work for 30% less and the companies don't have to pay the same type (if any) taxes on them."

A column by our editor-in-chief, Bob Evans, about the logic behind outsourcing IT jobs (informationweek.com/949/evans.htm), kicked up a ruckus. Evans said it's not domestic laziness but offshore excellence that's fueling the trend. In a string at informationweek.com/949/lp_outsource.htm, "Scott Hess" says

"when CMP Media (publisher of InformationWeek) decides that offshore outsourcing of editorial writing can provide 'better quality in shorter times at lower costs,' maybe Bob will change his opinion."

Thanks for a new nightmare to sweat through tonight, Scott.

Evans might have an ally in "J Ross Docksey" (informationweek.com/932/lp_outsource.htm). J Ross, who says he has "represented" a number of companies involved in offshore outsourcing deals over 11 years, says,

"There are a number of factors that distinguish successful deals. Cost-based procurement, disguised as outsourcing, has a higher rate of failure. But business alliances where each party is committed to the long-term success of the other are more likely to succeed" to the benefit of more people.

"Walter Winkler" is more altruistic in the same string. Offshore outsourcing is a result of inevitable globalization, Walter says.

"As I see it, we have two choices: Reduce our own living standards so that we can be competitive in the global marketplace, or help raise the standard of living everywhere else to the point that we can compete. The second option would make this world a lot safer for everyone and inhibit individuals from building a following based on the hatred of those who are better off."

Don't be shy, but do be civil in the Listening Post, informationweek.com/LP.

Jim Nash
Managing editor, news and interactive products
jnash@cmp.com

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