Friday, October 05, 2007

IBM applies for patent to aid outsourcing jobs


IBM Corp., which has invested billions to expand its footprint and its employee count in countries such as India, has applied for a U.S. patent for technology that makes it easier to figure out which jobs to send overseas.

The patent application, titled "Outsourcing of Services," describes software that would automate the steps necessary to identify which tasks are best kept in house and which are ideal for outsourcing abroad.

In the application, IBM notes that while many U.S. companies are looking to take advantage of "cheaper resources," such as labor and materials, in other countries, there are risks.

"If used for the correct services and products and properly executed, outsourcing can make a business more efficient by reducing the overall end-to-end costs. On the other hand, if used for services that are excessively complex or that are executed improperly, outsourcing can result in increased overall end-to-end costs," IBM noted.

Although the idea is straightforward, figuring out which tasks should stay and which should go is difficult, IBM said. Hence the need for its technology, which provides an "objective" system for making outsourcing decisions.

IBM declined to comment about its patent application, which was recorded at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on July 12.

The application has generated a modest amount of buzz in the tech blogosphere in recent days.

A spokesman did note that there are 54 other U.S. patent applications pending that include the word "outsourcing" in the title.

This isn't IBM's first patent application that is designed to make it easier and more effective to export work outside the United States.

A patent application recorded in February describes a system for matching a "knowledge worker" with a job based on a variety of criteria, including experience, salary and geographic location. The application includes examples of cost comparisons involving workers in India.