To understand the future, it often helps to examine the past. The past may not have all our answers, but we often find useful models that can be repurposed in new ways. Turn back the clock one hundred years, and we will find just such a model for future outsourcing…the modern hospital.
At the turn of the 21st century, outsourcing was going full blast, moving from obscurity to mainstream. It quickly improved corporate profits and promised long-term benefits through continuous improvement…at least that’s what was supposed to happen. Now, robots are arriving in the workplace. Is it a threat? Or is the “Robot Revolution” our second chance for a golden age of outsourcing?
Almost every week in the last few months someone has asked me about the general mood on the streets of Bangalore. What are the IT professionals in the Silicon Valley of East making of the changes in the industry? How is the senior management of offshore headquartered service providers preparing for the future? While there are several versions of the predicted future, everyone agrees that this is a watershed moment in the evolution of the IT outsourcing and offshoring industry.
Our ancestors in India always told us that it was a sin to cross the oceans (and many in India do not cross oceans even today). There was something about globalisation that they just did not like and I have not been able to figure out what it is.
For years, the outsourcing world has been buzzing about reshoring (or "backshoring"), taking the jobs we sent offshore years ago and bringing them back to the US and Europe. Low wages, cheap property, and favourable taxes made offshore manufacturing very attractive. But in recent years property values rose, staff turnover increased, and wages just keep heading up. Despite weakening economics, offshore still made sense. Until today!
I visited Cape Town and Durban recently as a guest of BPESA (Business Process Enabling South Africa) and attended the South Africa BPM Summit 2016. The summit featured local business leaders, industry influencers, and politicians eager to create jobs in South Africa by riding the wave of business process outsourcing (BPO).
Haitao Qi is the CEO and founder of Devott, the leading Chinese research and advisory firm focussed on the country’s technology markets and business services, whose annual Devott Global IT & Sourcing Summit (DGITS) is now the largest of its kind in China.