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When Offshoring Goes Onshore, Everybody Wins

Ara Trembly
Insurance Experts' Forum, March 18, 2010

I’ve had a lot to say here, and in other places, about the dangers of U.S. companies exporting jobs via outsourcing in order to get cheap labor in the short term, so it’s rather ironic that I am now here to applaud a foreign-based company that is actually bringing jobs to the United States.

Patni Computer Systems, a global IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) services provider, has established a new North American hub for business process outsourcing operations in El Paso, Texas. The move was triggered by a multi-year, multi-million-dollar BPO services contract with a leading health care technology and services provider, the India-based company noted.

According to Patni, “Adding the El Paso center follows through on the stated corporate strategy to invest in specific regions around the world and contribute toward generating economic opportunities in these regions.” Now while that might sound like the usual corporate poppycock that accompanies news releases, to me it feels like a breath of fresh air. Imagine that; a global company that wants to help local markets grow.

But here’s the best part. Patni says it plans to use the hub to expand its BPO and knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) delivery capabilities to service North American customers from domestic locations in a cost-effective manner, deliver cost take-outs locally and employ highly skilled local talent (italics mine). When fully staffed, it will employ more than 300 skilled professionals providing a wide range of insurance, financial services, finance and accounting, technical support and multi-lingual helpdesk services to Patni’s North American clients, the company adds.

So while some of our U.S. insurance companies, and many of our technology providers, are falling all over themselves to either import inexpensive labor via H1-B visas or just outsource entire operations (including IT), Patni is turning that equation on its head. And the result is a win for everyone involved.

Of course, Patni isn’t the first foreign-based entity to open U.S. facilities and employ local talent. Automakers like Mitsubishi and BMW already are in that category. What makes the Patni announcement particularly sweet is that it comes from a company that has become known for servicing the offshore outsourcing wants of U.S. companies.

But here’s the point: If Patni can build facilities in the United States that employ U.S. workers, why can’t U.S. companies do the same thing? In the deepest recession since the 1930s, it’s long past time for our home-based companies to start recruiting, training and retaining local talent to help build our nation’s economy back up again. Yes, there is an investment to be made, and yes, it is a bigger investment than paying to outsource operations or importing foreign workers.

But aren’t our workers worth it? Isn’t the financial strength of our nation a priority?

Kudos to Patni for bringing some jobs here to the United States. Let’s hope and pray that many more follow suit—and not just the overseas companies.

Ara C. Trembly (www.aratremblytechnology.com) is the founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant, and a longtime observer of technology in insurance and financial services.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Ara using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at ara@aratremblytechnology.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

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Comments (1)

You ask, "If Patni can build facilities in the United States that employ U.S. workers, why can't U.S. companies do the same thing?"

There ARE American companies employing US labor for outsourcing purposes. We don't need foreign companies doing this.

One of these companies, Rural America OnShore Sourcing (www.ruralamericaonshore.com), currently has business centers in Wisconsin, Ohio and Kentucky, and employees in 12 states. Most of their workers actually work virtually, that is, telecommuting from home, but a number do use the business centers. At the same time, their employees are also available to work on-site if a client wants that.

The company is recruiting more people--another 13 states by the end of this year, and the rest of the states next year.

Why be tethered to a facility, when it's the technology that matters? Rural America does IT, BPO, etc. using cloud computing tools and processes. Different team members can be in different locations, and still work seamlessly together.

As broadband spreads, the rural workforce (which commands a lower salary than their urban counterparts) will grow even more. I dunno, but it seems to me that we don't need to bring foreign companies in to set up shop when it's already being done here anyway.

Posted by: wendy.hersh | March 19, 2010 1:41 PM

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