BPO Basics and the Relevance of a Computer Science Degree

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    I’m attending the Gartner Symposium ITExpo 2005 in San Francisco this week, and I have some great data to share. But, until I have a chance to write that up, I wanted to clue you into last week’s issue of InfoWorld, which had three articles worth reading.

    First, Chad Dickerson, who writes, “CTO Connection,” offers a truly useful reminder regarding “The IT talent ‘crisis’.” He suggests that maybe the rapid decline in the number of US computer science students heralds nothing much at all. “Perhaps the stated lack of interest in computer-science degrees among freshmen has nothing to do with interest in IT and is more reflective of aggressive self-teaching, an approach to lifelong learning that seems to be essential to career success as an IT professional,” he says. As he points out, techies and their managers come from many areas of study.

    Second, “Tech Watch,” in the same issue, tackles the H-1B Visa issue by examining whether or not companies truly are at lack in being able to hire the kinds of candidates they need for their technical positions — or whether they’re using the visa program to dampen wages.

    Third, the cover story for the issue, “The New Business-Process Partnership,” gives a fairly thorough rundown on the basics of BPO — why it’s gaining steam and what’s being outsourced, as well as best practices (“Re-engineer first — don’t outsource an inefficient process”).

    A profile of an IBM BPO project for Marathon Oil quotes Marathon’s finance and accounting governance manager, Cal Leeke, as advising that organizations wait “a year before allowing a BPO provider to make any significant changes to your process.”

    One statement for which I heard a contradiction today at the Gartner event: Wipro’s CEO of Americas, Richard Garnick, is quoted as saying, “We see an emerging trend where customers are agnostic on the platform. They’ll come to us and say, ‘We need this output; it’s up to you what system you deploy to run on.’” The contradiction: One analyst cited the tale of an HR outsourcing initiative wherein the service provider implemented PeopleSoft while the rest of the organization was running SAP. The two systems posed a needless integration quagmire for the client.

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