Information Technology Outsourcing Goes Rural

Filed under: Features,Outsourcing |

Information technology outsourcing is taking on a rural flavor in favor of American accents and fewer times zones. Your next help desk call may be answered in Iowa instead of India.

Your next help desk call may go to rural America not urban India. (Photo/Library of Congress)Telephone operators 1917

Your next help desk call may go to rural America not urban India. (Photo/Library of Congress)

It seems the are a growing number of reasons to keep jobs at home. This piece, written by an outsourcing consultant, takes a swipe at the quality of talent coming out of midwestern universities in the United States versus those produced India’s centers of higher learning. But it does point out the value of  rural souring, locating and hiring in parts of the U.S. that have been overlooked and undervalued.

From CIO Update:

By Max Staines of Compass Management Consulting

Rural sourcing, where U.S.-based service providers establish delivery centers in low-cost regions outside of major metropolitan areas, is gaining increasing interest and attention in the marketplace.

Potential benefits of rural sourcing can include competitive pricing, fewer time-zone and cultural constraints, and, in many cases, lower transition costs. Moreover, for U.S.-based client organizations, particularly those in the public sector, the political appeal of “keeping jobs at home” can be essential.

This is not to suggest that the rural model is poised to compete toe-to-toe against the major Indian providers, much less displace traditional models of offshoring.  However, for many client organizations, rural sourcing is emerging as a potential arrow in the quiver of a comprehensive global multi-sourcing strategy.

Discussions of rural sourcing have often focused on political attitudes towards global offshoring.  Indeed, attitudes about the national origin of service providers can have an impact on the effectiveness of service delivery.

For example, in conducting a survey of a major global retailer, Compass found that help desk users actively avoided dealing with agents in a Mexican operation in order to speak to an agent based in the Midwest.  While the most common complaint against the Mexican agents was difficulty in communicating because of accents and “cultural” differences, users also expressed a view that the desk in Mexico “didn’t understand the urgency of our needs and issues.”

In other instances, Compass has observed that users will try to solve problems on their own or seek a colleague’s assistance rather than work with an offshore provider and deal with “someone who doesn’t speak English.”  Compass has strong evidence showing that high levels of “end-user effort,” whereby users avoid the help desk and try to fix their own problems, can be a significant drain on productivity.

Whether complaints about language ability or cultural differences are legitimate or not isn’t the point.  The fact that these attitudes can be shown to have a marked impact on operational performance cannot be ignored.

Read the original story.

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