Outsourcing; Where To?

August 01, 2006

The world economy has always been international. Offshore outsourcing is not a new phenomenon. In our part of the world, outsourcing has been a prominent feature since at least the 18th century, when the British began to explore the Subcontinent in search of riches and power. Only the advent of IT has changed practices, as well as types and directions of economic flows.

In the old times, when Vasco da Gama landed on the shores of Southern Asia, it was for "spices and Christ"; later on, it was for "Made in Sialkot" sports goods for the USA and Europe; now it is for software, back office operations and call centres.

One of the most important issues in developing countries rich in human resources, like Pakistan, is to understand IT outsourcing. Developed countries are doing it to lower costs and to free scarce resources back home for high value-added work, and work concentrating on core competencies. On our end of the equation, outsourcing is important in order to boost the economy, reduce unemployment, and develop the local IT services industry. Both sides can mutually benifit.

Untill September 11, high tech companies in the developing world, including Pakistan, were admired extensively for the quality of work they produced and for their technological edge. But the economic slow down and increasing layoffs after the heinous events of September 11 changed things in more than one way. Moreover, the workforce in USA and Europe is seeing offshore outsourcing differently: they complain that jobs meant for them are moved outside their countries, for cost savings, to the extent that they have started influencing policy makers to check this practice. Their worries were confirmed by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, which stated that in March 2003 alone 212,000 US computer and engineering professionals were unemployed.

Pakistan is one of the important destinations for outsourcing. The country has a good base of IT professionals, developed infrastructure, and friendly government policies and laws. The effect of "Pakistan's 60 fold rise in its budget for IT" has already started showing results. An employable workforce with good command of the English language is available at a very competitive cost. Pakistani universities and IT institutions in both public and private sectors have internationally standard curricula and are turning out many tens of thousands of IT graduates each year who are adept at turning their hands to anything from software development to running call centres.

The IT market has also matured, as local IT companies have been doing contract work for clients in developed countries for over a decade. But, sadly, the trend has not picked up as much as in neighbouring countries like India and China. Reasons are rather political and diplomatic than technological. Pakistan, relatively, is a smaller market. Pakistan has always been a frontline state to fight terrorism but ironically the image of the country in the world media is not very helpful either.

Clearly, Pakistan needs to catch and then hold the attention of big IT players. For that, we have to have a constant supply of skilled IT workers to meet the demand when it comes our way, now and in the future. Policymakers have to ensure sufficient planning is done to create the human/intellectual capital. This done, it will be difficult for anyone to ignore Pakistani talent that is untapped so far.

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August 1, 2006
11:52 AM


i will say it kindly...please pay special attention to how you organise your thought flow

in places it appears as if you are mixing up out-sourcing with colonisation...khair that is small potatoes as compared with this:

Pakistan has always been a frontline state to fight terrorism but ironically the image of the country in the world media is not very helpful either.

at the risk of perhaps shocking you and a few other gentle souls let me say this: Pakistan has not always been a frontline state to fight terrorism but.... also a direct and indirect exporter of terrorism ... and ..not only that but the state directly and indirectly employs terrorism against its own population...(i can furnish a list if you want)

yes, serious charges, but is there another way to confront the shenanigans of the occupying army

and then you say this: ironically the image of the country in the world media is not very helpful either.

may i suggest another word instead of 'ironically'?...how about 'understandably'?

August 1, 2006
12:39 PM

Temporal: I thought we are trying to build a bridge here. You are entitled to your opinion, but I don't accept what you say. Rather, I protest.

August 1, 2006
01:22 PM

Indeed question the message, not the messenger

But important questions indeed - if the terror chiefs spent their efforts in employing the jehadis in call centers, perhaps we'd get some real transformation going there

Hi, Thank you for calling 1-800-Terror, How may I direct your call?

I'm sorry to hear that your virgins didn't work as promised. No - you only get 72, and no you cannot take credit for someone else's actions

August 1, 2006
01:22 PM

"The world economy has always been international." :D Its like Bush saying 'Most of our imports are from outside US".
Do I see a president in the making? ;)

deepti lamba
August 1, 2006
01:45 PM

Is this the Jehadi 24/7 call center? My bomb has broken down. Can you help me? ;)hehee.....Sorry but I couldnt stop myself from crackin' this joke

August 2, 2006
10:17 AM


thank you!

yes, thank you for showing tolerance for views that maybe diametrically opposite yours...tolerance (and education) is what we need for bridge building...

what i wrote (and fervently believe in) is my perception of truth...while Truth is uni-dimensional and universal...truth (with a small t) can be 'personal'...my calling...(for truth) tells me to be critical of myself first....before i can go and criticse others...if at all!

it is in this belief that i feel compelled to criticse the rape and plunder of the occupying army....and i feel no remorse or compunction when i go on to bare the modibhais here...the mullahhindus here...the insecuristas

hope you understand ..bridge building begins with a tolerant, open and clean heart

August 3, 2006
02:02 AM

I can just imagine the job recruiters showing up at the madrassas, vainly searching for someone who speaks english.

As if Westerners would feel very comfortable with having their credit card information processed in Pakistan.

Pakistan already does quite a lot of outsourcing. Anytime Bin Laden or Mullah Omar require someone to do work for them, they call Pakistan.

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