Managers: Outsource-Proof Your Job

Dec. 27, 2006
Think you're the only ones doing the outsourcing? Guess again. You'll need to be logical, of course, by moving away from the decision tree and injecting unique creativity - this is the key to preventing your position from moving offshore.

Today, many top North American companies no longer have many actual employees involved in service and customer relations departments because they've found that those roles can be done better/faster/cheaper by expert companies. And, as we all know, many jobs where no actual human interaction is required are being done in 'Third World' countries where the pay scales can be 1/10th of what people in Canada or the US would earn for those jobs. The drug industry has seen a significant degree of outsourcing of research and manufacturing jobs.

But soon those doing the outsourcing may be outsourced themselves. Some U.S. executives still haven't figured out that the same technology which allows an Indian Customer Service Rep to serve a credit card customer in Michigan has been re-purposed and expanded to allow an accountant living in India to do the taxes for an elderly taxpayer in Ontario, which is going to do for those accountants in North America what it did for employees in the telecom industry a few years ago.

Any management job or professional activity which is dependent upon so called "decision tree management" is in jeopardy of being outsourced by someone in a country where a computer can do the same thinking in less time and with less distraction. It is my opinion that by the year 2015, most routine work in most businesses in North America will be done by people living in Asia or South America. They'll be trained and equipped as well as those they are replacing in the western countries and will perform those tasks with greater proficiency because they are grateful to have the job.

Consider how much of your job is done by using a decision tree approach: If this happens, then we'll do this, which will result in X, and our earnings will be $Y.

But take it a bit further and think about your doctor's role. She or he does the same thing by reasoning that if you have these certain symptoms then you have this particular illness and need to take a specific medication to deal with it. This is precisely the kind of logic that can be done by someone at a computer in any location.

My Advice to You: Ensure that whatever career, business, or profession you develop over the coming years is going to be more 'conceptual' and less 'logical' in nature. Computers still haven't figured out how to outsmart us when intuition or creativity is the most important ingredient.

If your business will truly benefit from outsourcing, do it. No government is going to stop this sea change of doing business so you may as well ride the crest earlier than later. But keep in mind that those of you on the management side are also subject to this trend.

About the Author

John M. McKee | Four Windows - No Walls Consulting