We recently held a conference where over 100 of our clients shared their outsourcing and offshoring experiences. The event brimmed with great lessons and examples.
Being a measurement guy, I couldn’t resist comparing this year’s event with one we held last year at which a CIO expressed some anxiety about what he deemed the increasing tendency to "take offshore our American jobs."
At this year’s gathering, that anxiety was still on display. But attendees arrived at larger conclusions about what offshoring truly means in a global economy – who benefits and why.
One attendee called my attention to a survey by the German Marshall Fund, the American policy group that promotes cooperation between the U.S. and Europe. That survey showed around 75% of Europeans and 71% of Americans welcome international trade. (Germany, a major exporter, had the highest acceptance rate at 83%). Yet even though many people generally welcome the free flow of goods and services around the globe, they still fear that such liberalization will, on balance, mean job losses. That’s particularly true in the U.S., where the looming presidential election is only turning up the volume on the rhetoric around the issue.
This is why I’m pleased to report that most of the discussion at the conference this year was about moving work, not jobs. Attendees were focused on how organizations can gain access to new sources of expertise to help meet business goals and grow. For these professionals, it isn’t about cutting or transferring headcount. It’s about improving operations.
Perhaps this is proof of a fundamentally sounder global economy – one in which demands for capacity and skills prompt executives to look for new sources of capability. It feels that way to me.