Offshoring irony and reality

Judging from an encounter I had recently, offshoring is proceeding in ways at once surreal and wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee real.

The other day, I was contacted by an analyst from The Smart Cube, a market research firm based in London and Chicago. The analyst asked for my two cents on the topic of whether the automation of business processes--things like HR and procurement--was triggering a trend away from offshoring.

I responded by saying I had not followed the industry closely enough to have an informed opinion. But I was curious about the fact that she was calling from India. It turns out this research about a possible decline in offshoring was itself being done offshore.

This struck me as one of those funhouse-mirror moments. But on further reflection, The Smart Cube's Indian strategy is another splash of cold water on people holding "knowledge worker" jobs in developed economies--. Market research like the report in question traditionally has been written by relatively high-paid U.S. or European consultants. Now, it's clear, some of this work is being sent to lower-wage Asia.

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