Outsourcing The Lunatic Fringe - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // IT Strategy
Commentary
5/2/2005
05:17 PM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
Commentary
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Outsourcing The Lunatic Fringe

Any serious debate-on religion, politics, sports, the outcome of American Idol-inevitably breeds extreme positions and behavior. It's hardly surprising, therefore, that this holds true for offshore outsourcing. On one side, representing the "My Job Went to India" camp, is Steve Relles. A family man from Delmar, NY, Relles is now known as the Delmar Dog Butler. He told Reuters over the weekend that his programming job was offshored and that stooping for dog poop is now the best he can do. He ma

Any serious debate-on religion, politics, sports, the outcome of American Idol-inevitably breeds extreme positions and behavior. It's hardly surprising, therefore, that this holds true for offshore outsourcing.

On one side, representing the "My Job Went to India" camp, is Steve Relles. A family man from Delmar, NY, Relles is now known as the Delmar Dog Butler. He told Reuters over the weekend that his programming job was offshored and that stooping for dog poop is now the best he can do. He makes ten bucks a week from each of about 100 pet owners for cleaning their yards after Fido's been for a romp. "My parents paid for me to get a (degree) in math and now I am a pooper scooper," Relles, 42, tells the news service.In the other corner, weighing in on behalf of rapacious capitalism, are Roger Green and David Cook. They are the co-founders of SeaCode Inc., a firm that allegedly plans to put IT jobs offshore literally-as in the Pacific Ocean, on a ship moored off Los Angeles. (I say 'allegedly' because this thing smells to me like a media hoax, though it appears that the Boston Globe and a few other outlets have already been reeled in).

Green and (Captain?) Cook want to hire Indian programmers and have them work aboard a converted cruise liner just outside U.S. territorial waters. That way our prevailing labor laws and wages won't apply. The upside: customers can get Indian labor rates but a short ferry ride is all that's required if they need to get onsite with their development team.

So, here's my question: Are all these people nuts? If Relles' first instinct after losing his programming job wasn't to start pooper scooping but to-oh, I don't know-add some new skills to his resume, he might have been able to cash in on the fact that more and more U.S. IT executives (Bill Gates being the latest) say they are having a hard time finding qualified workers in this country. Java and Web services knowledge is in particularly short supply. But Relles says he actually prefers the canine sanitation business over working in the computer industry. "It's flexible and I get to be outdoors," he tells Reuters. Where do I sign up?

As for Green and Cook, assuming they're not a couple of pranksters, they just don't get what's behind the whole outsourcing movement. It's not about worker exploitation. Yes, companies are looking to save money on labor, but they also want a global workforce to support global operations. Dell this week said it would add 2,000 more developers and support personnel in India, but you can bet Dell also plans to sell a heck of a lot of computers in that country. The only thing SeaCode could sell beyond low wages are halibut and sea bass.

The lunatic fringe is alive and well and living on the edges of the outsourcing debate.

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