As a software engineer, I’ve gotten used to the fact that some of what I do may get outsourced offshore to India or the Philippines. I”m not too worried any more because I’ve seen enough offshore outsourcing projects that turned ugly. Of course, I’ve seen my share of non-outsourced projects that turned ugly. It”s kind of the nature of software engineering. There”s always going to be a need for somebody here in the U.S. to write some code.
As somebody who”s job may get shipped away, I notice interesting outsourcing examples that have touched life. These come as a bigger surprise than the guy named “Bob” who answers the Dell customer support line with a distinctively Indian accent.
The first was a Tuesday morning at about 2:30 AM. A loved one and I were at a local emergency room. Impatient, an hour after my loved one”s CT scan, I asked when we might get some results. “We”re waiting for the radiologist to call,” the nurse said. It turns out that the four or five hospitals in the eastern part of the Twin Cities share an on-call radiologist that is offsite. I told myself that at least it was better than the job going to India, although there are now three or four radiologists who aren”t getting paid to be on-call for only one hospital. (Oh heck, radiologists make a lot of money – let a few of them get a good nights sleep.)
The second was late on a Thursday afternoon on the way home from work. Sometimes, a guy just needs a McDonald”s ice cream cone. I”m a vegetarian so there isn”t much else I eat there. They”re cold, sweet, tasty and it”s easy to stash the wrapper so you don”t have to explain yourself. I pull up to the order board and order my vanilla cone. No, I don”t want an apple pie with it. “If you”re order is correct on the screen, please pull ahead,” the voice from the box replies. Pulling up to the window, I notice that the kid taking my money isn”t taking orders and sounds nothing like the voice from the box. So, I have to ask, “where”s the person taking the orders?” I expected an answer like, “over there…”.
“North Dakota”, he answered nonchalantly. (The order board at my McDonalds is at least 250 miles from North Dakota.)
I was amazed. I like technology. This is cool. Thomas Friedman was right, the world is flat. At least it wasn”t outsourced to a different country. I knew those right leaning friends of mine would appreciate that.
Then it hit me. It wasn”t my job that had been outsourced. This could have been my kids job.
My kid’s job has been outsourced to North Dakota.
That”s different somehow. It”s not a radiologist or somebody at the far end of a customer service call.
It strikes a little too close to home.