Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Outsourcing & Work Place Changes

information technology lesson :P
I spend a fair amount of time monitoring various technology and business related RSS feeds and reading articles that catch my eye.  Here are a couple of links to articles that I recently read and found interesting along with some of my thoughts.

A Revolution in The Works

The concepts discussed/hinted at here have interesting implications.  In particular I wonder what the future might be for working people if the revolution the author discusses is in fact underway.  Locality is important in the sense that there is a lot of synergy and relationship building that takes place when people are located close together.  Having a company or project strewn across the globe makes it much more difficult to generate those kinds of dynamics.  However technology continues to march forward and as we've seen before, technology often shapes culture.  For instance the introduction of the automobile, radio & television all had profound impacts here in the US and elsewhere.

Today we're seeing new technologies introduced much more rapidly and across far larger geographic regions simultaneously.  Acceptance of these changes has tended to be more rapid than in the past in many areas as the changes are generally not at odds with existing cultural norms or can be easily adapted.  I'd argue that these innovations, primarily in the area of information technology are making locality less important both from a practical perspective as well as from the perspective of culture.  Across the globe younger people in particular have a much broader common ground because of this than they did in the past.  That shared experience is going to make communications and collaboration easier in the future.  The productivity of a highly mobile and geographically dispersed company of work group is only likely to increase in the future if these changes take place.

The Hidden Dangers of Outsourcing

Like the author of the above link I feel that outsourcing does in fact make sense in some cases.  I also share the authors feeling that companies often choose poorly in outsourcing.  I don't know this for a fact, but I'd be moderately surprised if Apple has outsourced their janitorial services for instance.  Given their legendary secrecy having an outside vendor performing this function would greatly complicate the task of keeping planned products under wraps.  Having this function in house doesn't assure that no information leaks out by way of a carelessly discarded document or overheard conversation but it does give a company much more immediate control.  When dealing with outside vendors there is always additional overhead in making changes as all interactions are governed by carefully worded contracts.

Core competencies, and functions that contribute to core competencies should almost never be outsourced as these are the things that differentiate companies from each other and create the competitive advantages that make a company viable.

Image via Wikipedia
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