Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Outsourcing Conundrum

I've been struggling with outsourcing over the past few years. I work in an industry where its very easy to outsource much of your technical support staff.

We see it with many of the major US players: Boeing, Microsoft, Apple, Mastercard, General Motors, etc.

Currently, I work with peers in India, the Philippines, and China. Many of my buddies lost their jobs over the past few years because of the outsourcing. I somehow survived.

There also appears to be a distinct lack of upward mobility within the company, and many believe its caused by jobs going over seas combined with many of the vets that were getting paid boom salaries, not wanting to leave their positions to go elsewhere because the pay isn't as much.

In the back of my mind, I know that at any moment, I can be replaced by someone overseas. Yes, they might not be as efficient as I am or as personable to our American clients, but they can hire two of them for less than the cost of me. But it still doesn't seem right.

As one of my users said, "Its just god damn un-American." I agree.

I understand why. The demand to show your stockholders you made profit quarter after quarter, even though the industry might not have grown, and that you somehow cut costs will keep people investing in your company.

I think it causing a larger rift in class warfare. The guy getting laid off isn't thinking about keeping a business going, he's thinking about how the rich CEO and people with enough disposable income to play the stock market, are doing just fine with their record profits.

He's thinking about the stereotype of the person that took his job and how evil they are and how they are ruining the world economy.

However, a new variable has been added. All of a sudden I'm working directly with some people overseas. They are no longer this sweat shop worker keeping things running while I'm asleep. These are people with names and personalities. I like these people.

And really, its not their fault. They want to live the American dream. The problem is, in this digital age, we've found a way to export the American dream to other countries.

It's not Alvin's fault that my company hired him to do work. He's just trying to earn a living. If it wasn't him, it would've been one of the other millions of people looking for work overseas.

So, I guess I'm trying to not blame the people taking the jobs. I'm trying to shift my anger and disappointment toward the companies that do it.

In a way, I guess I should blame Capitalism.

As a side note, some reports suggest that outsourcing is now coming the other way. India is actually shipping jobs to the US.  So maybe this 20 year trend is finally coming to an end.