Saturday, May 20, 2006

Outsourcing

Just like the immigration issue, there's been some very hateful things said and written in the name of outsourcing. I'd like to spend a few lines of blog addressing this.

My occupation is in programming, specifically telemarketing programming. If you've ever received a credit card offer in the mail and called the toll free number, there's a good possibility that Indian (or Phillipinian, or Canadian, or ...) phone operator is using a program I wrote. I know, don't hate me. At least it's not as intrusive as outbound telemarketing. The guys that write outbound scripts are in the next aisle...

Within the last year I began training a team of developers in India. Great kids, and they are mostly "kids", I don't have a person over 25 on my team. We've known all along, even though management has denied it, that our jobs will be questionable when these developers are up to speed. We received confirmation Friday that this is indeed happening soon. By the end of the third quarter, they anticipate our on-shore IS staff will be reduced by 70%. So, in effect, we are training our replacements. It's like training a soldier, knowing that when he's learned his job, he's going to turn around and put a bullet in your head.

We have a great IS department, I am the newest person in the organization with 7 years experience. We have improved our processes, our programs, our knowledge. As people have left, we haven't needed to replace them. We just work better and more efficiently. I'm proud of what we've accomplished over the years in a fast moving, fast changing industry. But those processes, those improvements, they really didn't mean anything. The company just silently reaped the benefits.

At this point, I could choose to do many things. I could be angry with the people who would replace me. But it's not their fault. They have become peers, even friends. I chat by messenger with them at all hours of the day and night. I see their wedding pictures, they recognize my kids through pictures. My team lead over there even wears a red turban on Fridays in the fall as a sign of support for my Cornhuskers football team.

I could choose to be angry with my management for allowing this to happen. But they are just carrying out objectives from those above them. Yes, they are selfishly and zealously clinging to their own jobs, but would I not do the same?

I could choose to be angry with the CEO and the top echelon of management for allowing this to happen. And perhaps they could have delayed it a bit, but it's inevitable. We had a high-level smug asshole come out from "Corporate" and talk to us recently about "The Transformation" as they call it. We pointed out that already the gains to be realized in India are shrinking, the playing field is leveling. He responded that he knew that, and that's why the company has already established a presence in China. While his job may not be in immediate jeopardy, it's not his fault either. If it wasn't him as an axe-man, someone else would be there to do it.

So where does the problem lie? And is there really a problem?

We pointed out that the staff in India was not yet fully trained. The exec that was fielding questions responded that it didn't really matter, because knowing the gains that were awaiting this transformation, the stockholders were pushing.

Boom. It sunk in. That was the answer. This is all in the name of stock prices. To the shareholders individual wealth is more important than the welfare of the country's citizens.

Now I'm not saying I don't agree with the capitalistic concept. I was a business major, and it was pounded into me. To think otherwise would be to embrace socialism, and the pure "evil" it represents. But something is wrong here.

Is the system broken? In the US, what professions are safe? Medical, some education, and certain services are all I can think of. Is there anything else that can't be outsourced? Engineering, consulting, programming - there's almost nothing that can't be done for a cost savings somewhere else in the world.

Is there a solution? As workers do we quickly retool and re-educate to become health care providers? Or should we look for work maintaining the pools and sprinkler systems of the shareholders we used to work for? Maybe that's the reason for the right's opposition to immigration, to keep those jobs available for out of work technical people.

5 comments:

Sage said...

Jon, Recently in the news it has been shown that many companies albeit manufacturing ones are bringing business back to the States. Granted they aren't making the large profits but each feel that "down the road" they will. So maybe this a trend that is starting. Outsourcing started in manufacturing maybe they are starting the reversal.

ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

As you know about me, I am not one of those people who will bow quietly to issues: I think that voicing opinions and ighting is a great thing.

This may offend you (as much as some of the posts ono my blog), but you know what? Whevever I call one of my service prviders to pay a bill or get customer support and the perosn answering my call obviously cannot understand me, I demand to speak to an mainland representative. You know what? I always FINALLY get a U.S.-soil worker, and he/she totally loves the fact that I had the balls to take action in what I believe in. If only everyone weren't so weak and could likewise stand up...

Bless ya in your efforts at the current time,
ariK

ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

Oh, and no: you can't do the pools and sprinkler systems for the CEO's, because those jobs are already spoken for by the illegal immigrants. ;-)

jane said...

I feel everything in our society is about the almighty dollar. When we're being told by our government to be patriotic & such, it seems when it comes to jobs & gasoline prices, patriotism doesn't matter; capitalism does.
I like your thought process & how you realized what your options were as far as feelings or blame. I hope I do that soon too.

ariadneK, Ph.D. said...

Capitalism = the B.S. leading the country into hell right now.