Headlined ‘Merriam-Webster to remove the term Outsourcing for IT and Business Services’ this fake news story describes how one of the most popular English dictionaries has decided to outlaw the term ‘outsourcing’.
But the sign of a great April fool story is when the joke is so close to what might be real that the reader cannot be sure if it is a joke or not. In this case it is obvious that a major dictionary would not unilaterally just remove a word and cast it from the English language – but it is true that many in the industry support this sentiment.
Outsourcing has many unpleasant associations; redundancies are just the beginning, but also the idea that services – like customer service – are low value and can be shifted around the world to the lowest cost location. The satirical news site The Onion produced a video a couple of years ago that parodied this idea – American workers continued to spend time in their local office even though they had outsourced their tasks to remote workers.
The truth is that the international market in services is maturing. Take a look back at what happened to manufacturing once containerisation made shipping goods across the world easy – and cheaper than making them locally. Some services may have started to move offshore because of cost, but there is now an international market in various services that need intellectual ability – customer service, legal services, accounting, IT, marketing, and public relations…
This means that there is much more competition. A firm in the US needing help with marketing or customer service does not need to employ a firm just because they are local, they can seek out the best in the world. That’s not outsourcing, it’s global competition because of global business – everyday we are involved in the globalisation of services. Perhaps the dictionary really should be modified?
Photo by English Nerd licensed under Creative Commons