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If you own a computer or piece of electronic equipment, chances are you may one day have to make a call to a tech support or customer service department. And if the product in need of repair happens to be manufactured by one of the many companies that bases its IT or customer service support center in another country, your experience with the representative with whom you spoke likely plays a large part in your general opinion of the outsourcing debate.
Outsourcing, also called “offshoring” when referring to overseas workforces, is commonly referred to as the practice of transferring jobs to other countries in an effort to reduce company labor costs. As more people lose their jobs to outsourcing or become increasingly frustrated by having to overcome language barriers to communicate with service employees, the outsourcing trend is failing to meet with general approval in the United States. Reactions to a 2004 poll in King County, WA concerning the economical impact of outsourcing varied, but many respondents felt that long-term outsourcing will generally harm the American economy and workforce.
“…As a consumer, I feel cheated that a company wants my money but doesn’t want to pay my neighbor $7 or $8 bucks an hour to take my calls,” one respondent wrote. “‘Globalization’ is an international term for ‘feeling free to get away with cheap labor.’”
Regardless of public opinion, however, the outsourcing of IT jobs, nay, jobs in general, does not seem to be going the way of the dodo just yet. The CIO 2006 Global Outsourcing Guide, released in July, cites the 2005 Duke University CIBER/Archstone Consulting study, saying that 73% of Fortune 2000 companies cite offshoring as an important part of their overall growth strategy. India is the number one destination for U.S. company outsourcing, and many companies name China as a front runner for future outsourcing possibilities, along with several Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Mexico.
As with most large-scale corporate practices, outsourcing has its benefits and its downfalls. Though outsourcing obviously has positive impacts to the economy and citizens of the countries to which the jobs go, it hs left many Americans disgruntled, jobless, and distrustful of corporations that practice it. A variety of arguments can be made for and against outsourcing :
Although the benefits to the companies seem to outweigh the benefits to the American people, low labor costs will likely continue to be the driving factor behind offshoring, and current trends do not show a decrease in the practice. To ensure long-term financial success, companies must properly serve their customers, regardless of whether or not this entails outsourcing work. By focusing on striking a balance between saving money and providing the customer with quality products and services, a company has a better chance of sticking around in the market to serve the same loyal customers in the future.