Monday, October 11, 2004

Five Ways To Offshore Proof Yourself

Offshore proofing yourself need not involve radical shifts in Careers away from IT. Those drastic steps may not be needed if you understand what works and what does not in IT Offshoring!
Notwithstanding all the insanity with offshoring that is going right now, If you are in IT, I would not move away from it. You may just need to make sure you are in environments where offshoring does not work! Here are five simple ways to do it:

1. Positions Dependent Upon Constant Communication - Offshoring is not suitable for IT positions that are dependent upon constant communication - Business Intelligence and Reporting is one such area. Constant communication and changes are the norm rather than exceptions. This may not be because the business users are fickle. It's just the nature of Business Intelligence and Reporting.

2. Positions That Involve Lots of Internal and External Touchpoints - A good example might be IT careers in Consulting Companies that require interactions with customers here. More touchpoints mean bodies that are in the same time zones as yourself. They may try offshoring those positions but they will not work in the longer run.

3. Positions where Requirements are Changing Fast all the time - Fast growing businesses do these to you. Requirements cannot be frozen long enough for them to follow any process. That may also mean you need to be nimble on your feet, be familiar with Rapid Prototyping and faster release cycles if you are in software development. Good examples might be fast growing online companies.

4. Positions where Technology is the Core Set of Products - For Intellectual Property reasons as well as speed with which you need to do things (not very mature companies but younger ones) IT positions within such companies cannot be outsourced easily without pain. If you join a Retailer in their IT department, IT is a support process. It is subject more to outsourcing as it is not a core competency.

5. IT Careers that involve fast changing technologies - RFID, Wireless are all examples of fast changing technologies that cannot step outside the U.S simply for availability reasons. Wireless standards (Wide-area, telecom not local area) vary from country to country and is resistant to outsourcing simply for the reason that it cannot be done elsewhere. Fast changing technologies like RFID may require resources - people, knowledge, access to information, capital, etc that are very localized. They cannot be simply outsourced.

That said, already Computer Science enrollments are shrinking in schools. This may drastically alter the demand-supply equation in local IT workers favor soon. Hang in there, hide out for a while and the sun will come out. Hype machines work both ways, very optimistic and very pessimistic. Currently it is painting an unwarranted pessimistic picture. I don't believe it at all, if not for any reason other than simply what experience teaches you.