In-shoring opportunities in with automation

AutomationI had a long discussion with a serial entrepreneur last week that is looking to define a service offering in the help desk/virtualized meeting/education front. He seems to have a good handle on the business model and the differentiation between what he provides and the other services in the market place.

During the discussion, it did remind me a bit about the CNN post about the effect of Silicon Valley’s virtualization and automation efforts on jobs. What was most intriguing about the discussion was the ability to move the skills in demand to underserved parts of the country.

We both grew up in small mid-west towns and feel that techniques virtualizing the workforce he is developing could open up possibilities in areas of the country that are currently under employed.  With the possibilities of human-centered automation, these approaches will be increasingly important. I do question if today’s HR organizations are ready for this level of innovation.

3 thoughts on “In-shoring opportunities in with automation

  1. Charlie — a very interesting issue, and exposition on it.

    I was struck by the point about the decline of geography as a determinant in providing services due to the rise of virtual presence technologies, because that happens to be one of the main points in my views about another “future” arena, the future of IT, which are as follows:

    As automation sinks its teeth into software development, the number of developers will dramatically decrease, and the average skill and talent level of the survivors will just as dramatically increase. They will be either creating and maintaining systems using the automation tools, or creating and maintaining the tools themselves. Because of their advanced level of skill and experience, they will be in short supply, so their geographic location will be irrelevant, and they will earn globally-based salaries. This will eliminate labor cost arbitrage as a business driver, which will wipe out the whole concept of “off-shoring”. All of this will not happen tomorrow, but sooner than people think. At that point, the concepts of migration and modernization (and even software maintenance) will be obsolete as we know them now.

    Like many other technophiles, I routinely use Skype and similar services to video conference with folks all over the World. As virtual presence capabilities mature and get cheaper through global competition in that market, physical presence will become less and less of an issue.

    However, that brings up another issue — cultural compatibility. This can raise its head in a number of forms, from hard-to-understand accents (exacerbated if video isn’t involved) to errors in assumptions about shared values and concepts. I’m a world traveler with a lot of experience in dealing with folks from other cultures and with different native languages, but I still get tripped up by this every now and then. I have to be vigilant to avoid it.


  2. Another interesting issue with automation and culture is that if you are really iterating in real time on a problem, you need to have industry knowledge and ideally close proximity. On the hard problems, face-to-face interaction/demonstration is usually required. This means that flexibility and responsiveness may dominate these interactions for the business/IT market.

    Today’s virtual interaction environments go a long way to making that interaction seamless, but there is definitely room for innovation. 

    Liked by 1 person

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