offshoring: creating tomorrow’s technology wasteland

Have you ever had to take a drive through the ruins of the UK’s great shipbuilding areas? Those once proud, thriving centres of excellence where skills were developed and honed. These ships set the standards of a great trading nation.

These places saw skills pass from fathers to sons, each generation contributing their own evolutionary change to age-old methods. Places where quality created value.

Those skills are gone forever. Lost in the vortex of a lowest common denominator market. These places should teach us a lesson about off-shoring.

Once the eco-system supporting a skills base is lost, its gone for ever, never to be re-built. Something we should think about when we use words like “sustainable”.

But there are more lessons to be learnt from all this…

The race to become the biggest loser

The relentless shift to technology offshoring is destroying our ability to evolve as a nation. Ultimately, its a short-term, self-defeating strategy.

Because unlike design, innovation and invention, this makes no attempt to raise the bar, just a race to the point were it cannot be done cheaper or at a lower quality.

Losing the offshore arms race

But the biggest mistake marketers make from embarking on this journey towards oblivion is that unlike a survival of the smartest competition, this is one where simply the one with the sharpest pencil wins.

As we cut our costs, so do our competitors. If we give a contract to a back-street operation in one Asian shanty-town, the competition finds one to do it cheaper and a little bit worse. Quality is simply driven out of whatever is supplied.

Showing a contempt for your customers

If strategy’s driven by accountants rather than innovators the customer’s the ultimate loser. Your customers will feel no satisfaction from buying the product, or from using the service. Your brand will never be revered and admired. You will never develop any brand loyalty, you’ll feel the force of social marketing.

People Power – the emergence of social marketing

Businesses are slowly starting to understand the benefits of a social network strategy – how people can create the products they buy – but there’s another side to this coin.

People can anti-market. The voice that raises your reputation can bring it crashing down. Remember, for every one person who congratulates you, there will be ten to complain.

If the hit to your pride doesn’t get you, the hit to your wallet will

Maybe you’re unmoved by my appeal to protect our technical legacy. A tragedy in itself. But think of this. If you off-shore and fail to deliver quality and value, you will bear the full force of social anger.

Because your market speaks louder these days.

2 thoughts on “offshoring: creating tomorrow’s technology wasteland

  1. 1

    A good post Neil.

    I do think the government is a bit of a ‘whore’ in all this.

    No one is asking for protection, but strategic thought leadership for one of the UK’s most important industries is urgently required.

    16% of UK IT Graduates are currently unemployed.

  2. 2

    Hi, Stephen,

    Thanks for commenting. You’re right, of course. The Public Sector as the UK’s biggest employer will shake the very roots of our employment base if work is shifted overseas.

    But we also need to consider the impact on the private sector, too.

    If anything, the smaller private sector drives the innovation and solutions that we all benefit from. If we waited for the Public Sector to take a lead, we’d be more like Albania rather than Albion.

    While I hate the idea of protectionist policies, we need to regain some pride in what we can achieve and let our voices be heard about the future legacy we’re creating for future generations.

    Do we really want to be a second-tier state with our kids all working at McDonalds?