In the late 90’s and in early 2000, people around the world realised the upcoming trend widely known as outsourcing that began its race slow and sporadic and gradually developing into a trend that made impacts into the length and breadth of economic landscapes around the word in turn at the same time creating job opportunities at one side of the globe and initiating vocational culling on the other side. It took some time for the common man of both sides of the process to come in terms with the concepts and to comprehend what was going on and what does happens and who and who all are engaged and engulfed in the process. In the corporate world , the process of outsourcing was used as an euphemism for cost cutting exercise and at times as an excuse for firing and employee without any apparent reason.
The basic notion underlying outsourcing implies shifting of jobs that does not bind the physical presence of an employee as mandatory for carrying out the respective work he is assigned with. For example a telephone operator’s physical presence do not generally affects the relationship between him and the caller and the result may be almost same if they are 10 miles or 1000 miles apart as far as the conversation goes smooth and the caller is fed with enough information. Concurrently, the same is applied for back end clerical jobs that does not involve any physical contact with a customer. So corporates in US and UK found this trend lucrative and back end jobs were outsourced to cheaper labour destinations like India where they can have an army of workers at their disposal for the amount they pay for a bunch of workers in their corresponding countries.
Initially the tasks that were outsources included predominantly data entry works that were not necessarily time bound and data collection that was termed as boring and time consuming yet costing same as any other jobs. But as the trend progressed and attained maturity in the years that came later, data paved the way for voice and finally sensitive information like details of bank accounts and credit card numbers of overseas clients were processed through these out sourced man power. A lot of potential job opportunities where destroyed in the originating countries and at the same time in India and other developing countries it resulted in mushrooming establishments widely known as call centres and directly created income generation for young and educated individuals and began to indirectly influence and stimulate their economy that desperately needed foreign investment for growth and infrastructural expansion.
Soon outsourcing began to make headlines in national and international media and this time it was for those bad reasons the feel good factor associated with that until could not but help. Of late, the customers who contacted call centres noticed consistent inconsistency with the nature and tone of the responder and they realised that the calls are not handled by a native who is familiar with the local slang’s and terminology that often comes in a conversation. The final blow came when news leaked that an HSBC call center employee in India, the largest beneficiary country of call center trend without much interruption took away sensitive financial information including details of bank accounts to organised group who in turn siphoned funds as part of a conspiracy that included people in different continents. The problems that followed resembled the opening of Pandora’s box and the outsourcing industry soon began to find themselves standing in the dark side of the media and public spot light. There was public outcry in countries where the jobs where taken for outsourcing and labour unions took the issue in parallel with the job loss sentiment and demanded outsourcing be stopped in the best interest of the clients and those negatively affected by this trend.
Outsourcing still goes on in spite of the threats that are inherent with it but the industry has also initiated stringent measures like employee background check up and random scrutiny of activities , the governments on the receiving side on its part enacting competent laws that gives legal powers for prosecution. More and more companies and discarding outsourcing as far as call centers are concerned and has found new pastures like medical transcription, market research and research and development for their upcoming products and a lot of foreign software companies opening up their R&D centers in destinations where cheap yet skilled human resource can be utilized.
Outsourcing is a subject with varied implications, thanks to a multitude of factors that represents entirely different dimensions for different people who have become affected in this emerging and fast catching up trend. While the merits of outsourcing are many and highlights its feel good side, the potential threats and inherent vulnerabilities that lies hidden represents a dark hole that most in the field would hesitate to confirm and admit. while outsourcing is definitely a boon for certain tasks that pertains with data or activities that has negligible national, strategic or commercial implications ,it is not advisable in the best interest of the companies and their clients who leave their data to a third party who has de facto control over the use and destiny of this valuable information.
The trend of outsourcing has its roots in the inevitable globalisation whose impact and influence surpassing geographical , political , and linguistic barriers and has reshaped economic landscapes. Outsourcing at present keeps going and time will witness what lies ahead for all those who are concerned and connected with it.