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The only way to make offshoring pay
In response to Danny Bradbury's article on the hidden costs of outsourcing
Cheap labour costs save the UK money only if:
- A small percentage of business is moved abroad and the majority of work remains in the UK
- Core knowledge is not transferred overseas, which would allow foreign countries to compete with those companies moving the work offshore.
Clearly, anybody with half a brain would realise that if you can move IT offshore, you can do the same with about half the jobs in the UK.
It is also obvious that if you transfer jobs, you transfer knowledge. There is also the cost in lost tax revenue, increased benefits and loss in profits because of reduced morale from staff under threat of having their jobs moved abroad.
The offshorers' arguments that IT jobs will be replaced by higher-value jobs is ridiculous. If IT jobs can go, so will the higher-value jobs that replace them. This would require our economy to generate increasingly higher-value jobs more quickly than our competitors.
As India produces more graduates than the UK and the US, it is unlikely that we can maintain an intellectual advantage if we so freely hand over all our accumulated knowledge.
The solution is to prevent offshoring. If labour costs must be reduced, immigration is preferable. This way UK companies could keep tabs on what jobs and information was being disseminated and to whom, and the UK government would get tax from workers.
Free trade is a fine thing, but telling your competitors how to undercut you is just plain stupid.
Criminal waste shows lack of understanding
In response to Colin Beveridge, who said the government was failing to see the importance of IT infrastructure
"Government doesn't understand IT". Spot on. Take the UK's police forces as an example, managed, one would delude oneself to think, by the Home Office.
Why do UK taxpayers have to fund the costly creation of dozens of regional police websites when each one essentially has to do the same thing? Why didn't someone in authority say, "stop this nonsense, let's have a single approach and let's make all the regional forces use it"?
I have been called in by one police force, which I shall not name, to help develop a custom software solution for its website.
So far, the force has spent about £20,000 on trying to implement a custom solution which could have been bought off-the-shelf for £49.99 at Amazon.co.uk. Judging by the variety of police websites out there, all with an individuality that goes well beyond the force's badge image and motto, the mind just boggles at how much taxpayers' money is being squandered by police forces up and down the country.
And to cap it all, none of this wastage gets us one nanometer closer to catching criminals, or helps prevent such outrages as the Soham murder case.
It is no wonder there is not even the seeds of a national police IT system capable of preventing criminals from starting a new life 200 miles down the road and committing more serious crime.
Incompetence. Royal incompetence. And all conveniently hidden behind the reinforced steel barrier of the Official Secrets Act. They can be so clever when it comes to protecting their pensions, can't they?
The 100-year analogy [it takes any new technology at least 100 years to get onto the real political agenda] is not a bad one. But wouldn't the government be better advised to concentrate on the outcomes rather than the methods? If we really want to be the world leader in e-business, why not concentrate on a few industries that might become world leaders, and help them develop the IT to do it?
IT is a lot more than boxes and bandwidth - it is streamlined processes, clear thinking, an integral supply chain and strong direction.
Technology will never be our number one export, but a brilliant financial services industry, streamlined health service, animated film industry, or virtual bio-tech labs might be.
It is the end-service we want the monopoly in - if we had realised that a little sooner with shipping, we might have taken a more enlightened approach to shipbuilding and steel.