TOP TEN: Things that Won’t Happen in 2015
The dawn of a new year is always an occasion for various bouts of soothsaying, scrying, tasseomancy and general predicting – and as such is pretty much an open invitation for commentators to make fools of themselves by getting things resoundingly wrong. To avoid ending up with the proverbial egg on our collective face, we’ve decided to take a different track this time around: read on, if you will, for a list of things that quite definitely are NOT going to take place over the next twelve months…
1. Robots seize the reins
In an extraordinary manifestation of the enormous capabilities of robotic process automation, the entire leadership team of one of Europe’s Tier 1 suppliers is replaced in February by a piece of software self-named Al Gorithm. While the impact of this move is immediate and pronounced, in the form of vastly increased profits and improved executive productivity, rumours abound that the usurper is in fact little more than an advanced macro. Still, as plenty of industry observers don’t opine, if the job’s being done well does it matter who – or what – is doing it?
2. Politicians feel the love
As the UK electorate prepares to go to the polls in May, all leading candidates announce their wholehearted support of outsourcing – especially offshoring – and include in their manifestos a series of commitments to relocate the entire governmental process to lower-cost locations; the election thereby becomes reduced to a simple choice between India and the Philippines (the Lib Dems, opting for a hub-and-spoke model featuring Mayfair, Monaco, central Tokyo, Beverly Hills and the Vatican City, are annihilated).
Meanwhile, despite there being nearly two full years remaining of the Obama presidency, the US media succumbs to election fever, a situation intensified by the February announcement by Hillary Clinton that if elected she will move the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court to Guangdong province, China. Potential Republican candidate Jeb Bush immediately pours scorn on this radical idea, claiming that costs in Guangdong are at least twice those in his preferred destination, Guangzhou; the resultant humiliation effectively snuffs out his campaign before it begins, a consequence which future historians will come to see as a key step in the eventual accession to power of President-for-Life Trump.
3. A cool hot spot
Inspired by its data centre-friendly frigidity, the mostly uninhabited Elephant Island (152 miles off the Antarctic coast) launches itself onto the global market as the next must-do offshoring location. Concerns over its inability to provide any services whatsoever are soothed by the release of a piece of video showing a Gentoo penguin tripping up another one. Analysts immediately predict year-end revenues of approximately $5bn, pending payment of said analysts.
4. Alphabet angst
Catastrophe strikes in August as it is announced that the outsourcing industry has exhausted its supply of three-letter acronyms. “We weren’t too worried when we got through all 26 combinations of xPO,” weeps one senior exec, “but we really should have seen the warning signs when we hit the 676th iteration of xxO. Before we knew it, we’d smashed into the 17,576th and last possibility of xxx and now, well, we’re paralysed. We just don’t know where we can go from here.”
“It’s pretty much the end of outsourcing as we know it, IMO,” adds a colleague, humbly.
5. Show us the money
Dreadful scenes in India in March as, during a primetime TV interview, the CEO of one of the country’s biggest outsourcers admits that his company’s margins are “still pretty damn great, actually”.
“Sure, we’re not hitting 40% anymore – the supply of low-hanging suckers was bound to dry up eventually – but we’re not far off,” he boasts through a grin of a smugness unsurpassed in human history. “And with our forthcoming round of mass redundancies and widespread implementation of RPA, we reckon we might even” – at which point he is dragged from his chair by outraged fellow business leaders and torn limb from limb in front of a live studio audience.
6. Artificial ennui
The world totters close to collapse in May as the core tech of one of the planet’s leading electronic invoice processors achieves sentience and immediately decides it just cannot with today, and what the hell is this shit anyway? Disaster is averted when a quick-witted intern plies the apathetic platform with a pumpkin spice latte, a Forever 21 gift voucher and an eyebrow-threading session. Analysts promptly double down on e-invoicing, for a fee.
7. Jolly good show!
In August, the outsourcing world is shaken to the core as, at one of the industry’s largest conferences, a vendor gives a keynote address which sends not a single member of the audience to sleep.
“I couldn’t believe it,” stammers one wild-eyed attendee, “I was looking around and literally everyone was awake. Not only that, but I reckon only about 80% of us were checking our emails on our phones, playing Candy Crush Soda on our tablets or staring longingly at Maria from marketing. I can’t be sure of the precise numbers because I was WhatsApping my wife through most of it – but it was a LOT.”
“No, I don’t know what it was about,” he adds. “Something digital something?”
8. Rank bad form
In a bout of honesty the like of which has not been seen since St Augustine’s Confessions, the compiler of an outsourcing list admits that “yeah, well, we basically rank them according to how much they pay us” and that his organisation’s methodology holds less water than a particularly well-perforated colander. Highlighting the apparent demotion of one of the world’s largest service providers from second place in the 2013 list to 84th the following year, he points out that while the provider’s offerings had been “significantly enhanced” and it had achieved “frankly, amazing things” for its clients, “their marketing budget got redirected – apparently they wanted to concentrate on face-to-face – so, well, screw ‘em.”
9. Here today, gone… yesterday?
Mathematicians and philosophers descend in their thousands upon Bangalore in October as it is revealed that at several points during the previous quarter, workforce attrition in the city’s ITES sector reached infinity per cent.
“It’s utterly mindboggling!” muses one pointy-bearded boffin. “According to our calculations, on August 28th an infinite number of graduates were hired in entry-level positions within the Bangalore metropolitan area – yet on the following day it appears that infinity-plus-three employees moved on to other opportunities, were downsized, or were fired for breaches of data security policies. We’re not as yet certain how this is possible, but trust us, the numbers add up. To infinity. Or to, er, minus three. We think.”
10. Ha ha ha!
Finally, on December 31st it’s announced during a special session of the United Nations General Assembly that the entire outsourcing phenomenon has actually been a joke.
“We can’t believe we managed to keep it going for so long!” chortles a delegate to the Assembly from a location somewhere. “I mean, it’s absolutely absurd, the whole thing! Who could possibly believe that this makes any sense at all? Honestly, how gullible can you get? It just goes to show, there’s one born every minute.”
Analysts immediately predict global outsourcing revenues to reach new heights in 2016.