Out of India

Bobby Cash
It’s an act.  A balancing act: security concerns versus skill base; cost savings versus language barriers. Integrating another country’s workforce into your company’s framework involves a host of complicated issues that often don’t have easy or straightforward answers. 

For many years India has been the undisputed off-shoring king: a solid infrastructure with established service companies put this country way out in front.  That's changing.

India is facing wage inflation, labour attrition and social unrest, while externally, other countries are vying for their own piece of the pie through heavy investment in infrastructure and a skilled labour force. These “other” destinations are poised to transform the offshoring industry.

From Brazil to Indonesia, Vietnam to the UAE, the increased global competition opens up opportunities for companies to better match their outsourcing needs with the unique offerings of various countries.  So what are these “other” offshore destinations?  Here’s a run-down of a few of the hottest players:

1. The Philippines: with strong government support, experienced service companies and a population that’s generally comfortable speaking English, the Philippines has risen to the top of outsourcing destination lists. Islamic extremism in some regions, as well as a government that’s prone to corruption can be potential risks.

2. Egypt: a gateway into both Africa and the Middle East, a multilingual populace and a commitment to developing infrastructure. Egypt was recently awarded Off-shoring Destination of the Year at the 2010 European Outsourcing Association Awards. Again, there are potential terrorism risks, as well as religious and cultural sensitivities to be dealt with.

3. Brazil: a large economy, a stable currency a growing pool of skilled technical workers and a key role in MERCOSUR all contribute to Brazil’s attractiveness for engineering and R & D outsourcing. The country also plays a key role in the South American economy and provides good exposure for reaching new customers in that region. Taxation, though, may prove to be a thorny issue.

4. Vietnam: a French-speaking labour force as well as extremely low labour costs. Areas of concern? Data and intellectual property aren’t necessarily safe and privacy isn’t guaranteed.

5. Thailand: boasts a well-educated technical workforce, willing to work at lower wage levels. Conversely, that workforce is still comparatively small and English language skills are lacking compared to other Asian competitors. And the recent social unrest could hamper productivity if it flares up again.

And finally, what about the good ol' US of A?  An English speaking labour force desperate for work just might be ripe for "rural sourcing." As Michael Clark of Safety Web discovered, the savings can be half (or more) of the cost of workers in, say, Atlanta, New York, London or Paris.

Sceptical?  About as likely as an Indian cowboy country & western music star.