Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Dark Art of Out-Sorcery

My first real job in Calgary was working the Bank Of America account at an EDS call center. I was the beneficiary of outsourcing in that case.  It's no small irony that the whole support center was packed up and moved to India about a year after I left.  Today both of these American companies have been wiped out.

EDS was bought for a bargain by HP and no longer exists.  Bank of America failed and would have been wiped out too if it wasn't bailed out by American taxpayers.  Such are the trials and tribulations of a global economy.  On a the balance we win.

When the job was there for me it was good.  When it left it didn't matter because I was already a more skilled worker.  I moved to Calgary for the jobs and so too the job was moved to Calgary.  I didn't plan it this way and neither did the Bank Of America.  What I learned, having lived it, is to trust the efficiency of the market.   A central planner likes to believe they can arrange it all but they can't.

Its a bit strange to watch this faux scandal coming out of the CBC against RBC.  They are both institutions that are backed by the government so the market isn't exactly free for either of them.  We the consumer are still free to take our business where we please.

If you call a company and find out you are talking to India, first decide if you are satisfied with their service and take your business elsewhere if you are not pleased with the service.  To base your satisfaction on simply jingoistic nationalism is a kind of bigotry.

It's my experience that business functions that can be sent overseas are usually functions that should be automated anyway.  Which would you prefer, communicating through different time zones, cultures, and language issues after probably waiting on hold or pulling up an online report to tell you what you need know and gives you the tools to do something about it?

The market is chipping away at this problem even now and you help it work.  Either the problems are so complicated that they need someone highly trained to handle them on the line, or your problem is so simple it can be automated.

Unskilled call centers are set up to handle those damned fangled computers with their missing "any" keys and disc player drink trays.  They are the ones that can be sent to India or automated.  What is the character of the company you are dealing with or investing in that chooses sweatshops in India to cut costs for you over an online system?

If you've seen kids playing with iPads (or cats playing fruit ninja), you'll know that people will begin to demand these "help yourself" type systems for training and basic troubleshooting.  The market will eventually eliminate this problem if we back our demands with cash.

Demand progress with cash.  It works.

There is no point getting up in arms about it.  You win some, you lose some.  To beat the competition you must provide a better product or service.  This is what drives progress and innovation.  Not using magic words like Social Justice, Progressive and Sustainable.  All that has ever done is confuse people into acting against themselves.  There is always some fool ready to give you their money if you say the magic words.

Let the sourcing sorcery continue and may the worlds best service find its way to all our lives.


billydunn said...

I work as a tradesmen in Alberta that requires extensive apprenticeship in order to become a licensed journeyperson. What my company has done, like many other Alberta companies are doing, is sponsoring foreign workers to come here and work as apprentices. Licensed journeypersons are also being recruited from foreign countries also. No big deal cause Canada is a nation of immigrants right? Well the foreign apprentice is paid $13 dollars an hour when just 2 years ago a high school student newly hired as an apprentice was paid $18 dollars an hour! Foreign journeyperson are paid $25 dollars and hour when just two years ago a person born in Alberta who has apprenticed here was paid $33 dollars an hour. Bottom line is that corporation LOVE immigration cause it simply increases the labour pool and creates more demand for the job. And yes the elephant in the room, a foreigner who is new to the country with English as a second language will work for a lot less! This is all done under the guise of an alleged labour shortage in a country that has almost 8% unemployment rate; even as high as 12% in the Maritimes.

CJ said...

A ludicrously naive point of view. The RBC didn't just outsource, it brought Indians to Canada as low-paid temporary workers while RBC prepared for outsourcing. The temporary workers program allows for foreign workers to be paid 15% less than the supposedly prevailing wage for a job -- that is, the "prevailing wage" that Canadians supposedly don't want to work for. In the case of the HD Mining foreign workers, they were, excuse me are, doing underground mining for $10 an hour -- after the company supposedly couldn't find skilled Canadians. They of course didn't find them because they saw $ signs in bringing in Chinese miners working for minimum wage, which is literally what is happening.

RBC is not going out of business any time soon. It makes billions of dollars a year and is protected from foreign competition. They are looking to squeeze a few more dollars by eliminating a few hundred middle-class Canadian jobs. Stephen Harper needs to wake up about the temporary worker program or he is going to find his political career going the same way as Mitt Romney's, and for essentially the same reason -- his base will not bother to come out to vote because they think his party doesn't represent their interests.

Alex F said...

Billydunn: I feel you buddy. Take nothing for granted. The whole thing can evaporate over night. When you are making a killing, someone else is looking for a way to stop the bleeding.
What I would change is to somehow implement a bonus if the immigrants chose to become Canadians. I like new working class Canadians. These ones know what the world is like and know how lucky they are to be in Canada. Contrast that with the entitled stock we generate, when we can be bothered to generate new blood at all. Do you see the invisible hand at work?

Alex F said...

Yeah you're a genius alright. My little story is about my experience with outsourcing. You are mad at cheap labour being brought in from cheap places. My only concern with that is to encourage the good ones to stay.

And you think Royal Bank indestructible do ya? Did you miss that whole Banking crisis? Bank of America was a giant that laughed at the likes of Royal Bank. But Royal Bank, CBC and even our vast resource wealth are indestructible and as immovable as stars. And I'm the naive one.

Sorry but I smell a socialist know it all. Listening to geniuses like you causes market distortions that constantly catch your people unawares. Then it's all mommy mommy they took our jobs!

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