The H1-B and offshoring trend – here’s where YOU come in

Folks, the dirty little secret underlying the H1-B issue is that corporations have been working to cut IT costs for decades. IT is always being hammered by business users in most corporations with variants of the “day late and a dollar short” or “you guys are so expensive, I could run my own IT shop with 2 guys and a visit to Best Buy” complaints.
The onset of “offshoring”, “best shoring” or whatever other Doublespeak phrase you want to use, was specifically underwritten by corporations starting around 20 years ago.
Along the way, IT service levels steadily declined. I watched as EDS clients moved work offshore, or demanded that we provide services at equivalent offshore rates, or they would go to an offshore vendor. It soon became clear that they were quite cheerfully prepared to accept lower levels of service and quality across the board as part of the price for reduced IT costs. They would of course, demand “high quality”, but when asked about how much they were prepared to pay, it would soon become clear that their price did not low for high service levels.
This, everybody, is part of the reason why cellphone phone vendor customer service went from being staffed by knowledgeable US workers to being staffed by offshore neophytes reading from scripts.
It is also why when I hear IT leaderships in clients waxing eloquently about Quality, I always have one hand firmly attached to my bullshit detector. Most IT leadership teams don’t give a rats ass about quality. If they did, they wouldn’t be buying solely on price. Sure, they talk a lot in negotiations about “quality” (often without being at all specific about measurable quality objectives – that is a tell that they are not serious) and then load up the contracts with SLAs, but most of those SLAs have nothing to do with levels of service as experienced by the end customer. They are simply fairly standard CYA boilerplate for IT fundamentals like uptime, defect resolution timeframes etc. etc.
But…
…when people huff and puff about crappy service from IT and tech vendors and systems, yet at the same time complain about other countries “stealing” jobs, I have to remind them of one basic fact.
They supported the process by buying and patronizing these businesses.
If (for example) customers had terminated their agreements with cell service providers when they found that they were not getting onshore customer service, we wouldn’t be facing the standard scenario where the guy named Rudy (real name is Rajamaranan) on Customer Service line #3 is sitting in Hyderabad while cheerfully pretending that he is stateside by asking you questions about the weather. (this is no knock on “Rudy”, he is simply doing the best job he can, probably with an out of date set of scripts written by a person who, if they were being WFR’d to make way for the Rudys, was in no mood to tell the new people everything they knew).
All of us consumers in the USA benefit from cheap IT services, no matter where they come from. If the goal is to move all IT work back to the United States, sure, it can probably be done, but it will only happen over a long period of time (this offshoring trend has been going the other way for close to 20 years), IT costs will leap, and this will feed through into consumer prices. You can expect to end up paying more for a wider range of IT-intensive services such as banking, telecomms, airlines and transportation.
Oh, and, by the way, don’t expect an increase in quality. At least not until you, collectively, the consumers, are prepared to punish businesses for piss-poor service and customer support quality by walking away from them

    and telling them why

.

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