Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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9/12/2006
12:01 PM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
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With Help From IBM, U.S. Biz Schools Teach Grads How To Move Jobs Offshore

While outsourcing technology work to low-cost countries like India can help companies cut costs and improve productivity, many such efforts go awry because they're not properly managed. The problem is that overseeing an offshore workforce takes multidisciplinary skills that few of today's managers possess. Several well-known biz schools, with help from IBM, are trying to change that.

While outsourcing technology work to low-cost countries like India can help companies cut costs and improve productivity, many such efforts go awry because they're not properly managed. The problem is that overseeing an offshore workforce takes multidisciplinary skills that few of today's managers possess. Several well-known biz schools, with help from IBM, are trying to change that.A story in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal takes a close look at a program IBM launched several months ago, under which it's working with some top business schools to develop curricula aimed at future IT services and outsourcing managers. For instance, UC Berkeley has worked with IBM to develop a certificate in services science, management, and engineering, the Journal reports.

This seems like a smart move on IBM's part. The company is the world's biggest seller of outsourcing services, and it's moving more and more of its workforce to India to accommodate this business model. But IBM has also been involved in some well-publicized outsourcing failures. For instance, it's currently caught up in a nasty legal dispute with customer Sprint Nextel.

The truth is, many outsourcing engagements go wrong because they're not managed properly by the customer (of course, sometimes it's the vendor's fault). But that doesn't stop customers from suing when disaster strikes. So by helping to ensure that there's a steady supply of graduates in the workforce with the right skills to manage the kind of complex outsourcing arrangements it sells, IBM is aiding its own cause.

The big question, of course, is whether U.S. universities should be training graduates in the art of moving American IT and other jobs offshore. I'm not sure it's such a bad idea, as those jobs are going regardless. So if this is the path businesses are taking, at least they'll be able to do it more effectively and efficiently and realize the highest possible level of savings. That's money that can be ploughed back into the economy. What do you think?

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