Interview

An Offshore Conversation: Author and IT veteran responsible for FleetBoston's offshoring part 2

Mark Brunelli, News Director
Tandy Gold

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We talked about the fact that offshoring is becoming one of those things that big company needs to do to remain competitive, but what about the victims of the offshoring trend? Who are they and what can be done to help them?
The thing is that there are victims there, and those are specific and unique. Those victims are the people who are caught in a financial bind, so to speak, where they have a lot of financial obligations. They tend to be in their fifties, their sixties, maybe even their forties, and they are unable or unwilling to learn new skills. Through no fault of their own, their jobs are essentially obsolete because someone else has automated them. Should the government impose regulations on offshoring in order to protect these workers?
What I have said, and what a lot of people who have given this thought have said, is that you don't want to legislate (offshoring) out of existence, because you can't. If we in the United States decide not to allow those values, someone from France, or someone from Canada, someone is going to figure out a way to provide those services through the back door. It's like prohibition. You can't really eliminate it. But what you can do, from an up front perspective, is take a percentage of the millions and billions of dollars that these companies save from offshoring and you can allocate it to those (displaced) individuals to either buy them out of their remaining years or provide a really solid alternative career that would give them a similar lifestyle. And that is very feasible because the savings are so huge.
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Do you think the public backlash against offshoring will wane after the upcoming U.S. presidential election?
My personal feeling about this election is that interest rates are going to go through the roof because we have to somehow finance this war. No matter who wins, I think we're going to be reeling from that. I think we need to reinvest and generate more jobs. We haven't been doing that effectively. Whatever political side you're on, I think you need to say that we need to do a better job on that going forward. Can you give an example of an offshoring program that has benefited both successful from both a financial and ethical standpoint?
There have been extremely successful offshore programs. One, for example, was implemented by the Nuclear Energy Company in New Jersey. The CIO there was a real visionary. About eight years ago, he offered all the workers two choices. He said that they could either go to work for the offshore firm, which was Keane, Inc., and they'll find a spot for you. Or, they could go to a training program for personal computer repair. I think everyone went to Keane. And seven years later, only one person had left Keane. They had higher benefits, higher pay, and higher job satisfaction. Can you tell me a little bit about your upcoming book?
It's called "Offshore Application Development: Making IT work." It's basically a book for hands-on program and project managers. There is a detailed cookbook in there which basically is a step-by-step for (implementing an offshore program). It's a how-to at a high level.

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