The world’s front-office?

The last post on offshoring has generated some interesting dialogue. My friend, Shantanu Bhagwat, has shared a great link on the International Herald Tribune which deserves to be read in full.

For me, a few things stand out:

Firstly, the separation of the kinds of services – deliverable in person or from a distance – that Blinder makes is so evident to most of us that we do not question how this differentiation evolved.

Way back, when I was reading for my MBA, Philip Kotler differentiated between ‘product’ and ‘service’ by highlighting that the latter was something that had to be delivered in person. Needless to say, back then we also had email IDs running into several letters describing gateways and domains, and alphanumerics for user-names. So one can hardly blame Kotler for not foreseeing how the advent of the web would change in the near future, at zap-speed.

However having differentiated it the way Blinder does, the strategic issue for the West is that unless individuals aspire to more, and systems and processes and a society support those aspirations, becoming a nation of hairdressers wouldn’t be very hard.

Secondly, I found it rather staggering that mission-critical components for Boeing are being developed in India. This sticks out for more than just the reason that it mentions my past employer.

However the key problem with things being in the news is that it is easy to overlook how many years it took to get there. In case of HCL, I know it took them 32 years to get there at a slow and steady pace, although they had considerable experience in doing what is ironically called “low-level” work for German automobile clients over the years.

The sophistication that Ian Thomas of Boeing says they found in India does not come overnight. And who better to understand this than long-standing doyennes of sophisticated technology like Boeing and Airbus themselves?

Is this not the American way? Hard graft to make your dreams come true?

Lastly the concept of a ‘global supply chain’ is my favourite. It requires above all the ability to think of a problem first in ‘disciplinary’ terms above all else. This is of course a reference to the ‘disciplined’ mind proposed by Howard Gardner (I am reading the book and rarely am I so impressed that I write in margins, so I promise, more on this soon).

I am keen to see Shantanu’s views on this. He writes this fabulous blog on globalisation, which coupled with his being a VC with business development responsibilities in Asia, makes for a must-read for me.

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