Demand Distributed Homeshoring First [ Update ]

<ed.note>Birmingham, AL and Oklahoma City, OK rate well among the Top 50 Emerging Outsourcing Cities. Indian Tutors Teach U.S. Kids Math over the Internet. Jim Ware and Charlie Grantham size up distributed work in the future of work.

Older Post: Anthony O’Donnell, of Insurance & Technology, blogs on "Offsite But Not Offshore: Promoting a Domestic Outsourcing Alternative". My response rant ( with a typo fixed ): "Anthony: These insights are helpful as far as they go. But the thing to which everyone seems to be oblivious ( or are acting as if ) is that with global broadband building out, content management systems, VOIP, wikis, code repositories, online project management applications, IM, web cams, virtualized server clusters, etc. there is no need for a DEVELOPMENT CENTER at all. What the fed and states rural economic development folks, the institutional disabilities advocates and pseudo-green politicians don’t seem to get is that we don’t need to commute to one place ( wasting gas ). The open source movement ( which is kicking butt in the IT sector and changing the paradigm of HP, IBM, SUN, etc. ) teaches us that talent can work just fine on the distributed, digital enterprise known as the internet. It is the iddatarate management structure which refuses to reduce their workflows to metrics and measurable goals ( fear of the phrase "Would you like fries with that?" ). It is time for institutional shareholders to begin demanding during conference calls the steps firms are taking to digitize their business processes so that they can be fulfilled from anywhere in the world with a decent pipe."

Older Post:
If you see the CompeteAmerica PR piece you’ll note the argument that "The Sanders Amendment will accelerate outsourcing and undermine U.S. economic growth" — so basically CompeteAmerica’s argument is "Give us H-1bs or we’ll outsource the jobs anyway."

What I don’t understand is why neither major politcal party is being called on the carpet by activists for not promoting a domestic telework economy as a National Economic Security Issue given the attendant "green" benefits caused by reduced unnecessary work-related commuting. Now I realize that this could be just another mechanism to offshore work ( though this reality is just the logical companion of a "meritocracy" mindset ) but it is also a mechanism to bring folks from rural workforces and high tech rural economic development projects into the mix ( as well as the 70% of folks with disabilites who are unemployed and who just can’t get to the work place for lack of accessible transportation ). While I tend to knock Tennessee’s Governor Bredesen on his short-term disabilities-related healthcare strategies, I must commend his work toward building a "The Trail to Innovation". I don’t have anything "against" Indian or Chinese workers, but we do need to encourage a US workforce which will build the skills to be able to compete for gigs in other nations cyberly — thus bringing that capital into this economy instead of the current outflow trend.

My personal bias is that "Demand Distributed Homeshoring First" would be more discerning rallying cry, however. The real question is why can’t software development firms and corporate America IT shops seem to get past geolocking their positions in certain locales? How can you maintain any kind of credibility by forcing the development folks producing distributed development tools to all be on the same campus ( the eat your own dogfood axiom )? One reason, I strongly suspect, is that managers are aware that once they reduce their project goals to quantifiable metrics ( necessary to make distibuted work successful ) they, too, will be outsourced or automated out of their positions.

American employers and stockholders need to look seriously at the premise that there isn’t an IT labor crunch, but rather, an IT laborer shortage in certain US geographies. The REAL PROBLEM is that many IT jobs ARE NOT LOCATION DEPENDENT, but managers refuse to trust their employees to telecommute. Almost all of the job vacancies I have seen recruiters pitch as difficult to fill are in the category of "you must relocate to a given city" with hiring managers refusing to give any credence to the IT worker’s perfect understanding that the probability is pretty high that one week after they move their family to Silicon Valley, Boston, Redmond, wherehaveyou, that the position will be offshored to India. The irony is that now the Indian firms are racing to replicate the geolocked development center model in the US.</ed.note>