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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Can you give me a few examples of IT jobs that cannot be moved to another country, and why?

    Exclude the ones where physical and cultural proximity is important -- requirements, sales, UI design, customer hand-holding.
    • Can you give me a few examples of IT jobs that cannot be moved to another country, and why?

      Exclude the ones where physical and cultural proximity is important -- requirements, sales, UI design, customer hand-holding.

      A good portion of government and defense related IT jobs cannot be moved offshore. Some of that work is done by offshore subcontractors, but certainly not all of it. And there is a limit to how much can be sent offshore due to political, legal, security, or privacy issues. With added r

      • Hang on a minute. I thought the gist of your post was that offshorable IT == lower-skill IT. So I asked for examples of IT jobs that were so high skill they could not be exported.

        Now your objections are more about the whole outsourcing concept, which applies within as well as outside the USA. (Hawaii is quite a few timezones away.)

        Did I misunderstand your original post? Otherwise I'm still waiting for examples.
        • by ziggy (25) on 2003.12.28 0:59 (#26844) Journal
          So I asked for examples of IT jobs that were so high skill they could not be exported.
          Actually, I was arguing the inverse -- it's not that high-skill jobs will not be sent offshore, but rather the jobs that will be sent offshore in pursuit of lower labor costs are low skill IT jobs.

          For example, accounting systems are a very well-understood domain for IT. Yet each large company's accounting system has unique wrinkles. At the very large end of the spectrum, it's not a problem amenable to a generalized solution. Yet it is not something that requires a Ph. D. in computer science, or tight integration with the customer. It's a low skill kind of project that used to be the bane of entry level programmers, interns and co-ops. Today, it's also the kind of project that's amenable to sending to a team in Upper Elbonia where you can expect a satisfactory result.

          But you asked for the high skill jobs that cannot be exported. That's a fair question, and I did avoid the issue previously. So here are some examples that should help paint a picture of what's "high skill", and not amenable to sending offshore:

          • Defense related projects
            • nuclear weapons research
            • military software (missile guidance, tracking systems, autonomous control)
          • New and innovative applications (pushing at the edges of engineering and CS):
            • 3D Rendering (e.g. Pixar vs. DreamWorks for Hollywood movies)
            • Finance (trading, arbitrage, derivatives)
            • Video games
            • Bioinformatics
            • Telephony
          • Government and Regulatory Applications
            • Taxation
            • Regulatory Compliance (e.g. Sarbanes Oxley [google.com] in the US)
            • Medical Records and Privacy
            • New Drug Applications
            • Public Records
          The common threads I see is that many of these problems are not IT-bound; that is, domain knowledge (finance, genomics, supercomputing, high energy physics, legal regulations) is more important than IT in some of these problems. Many of these projects are not amenable to outsourcing or long-distance outsourcing, and therefore not amenable to offshoring. Many of these projects need highly skilled labor (both IT and non-IT), and cannot be made cheaper by sending the code out to the lowest bidder (supercomputing applications, 3D rendering, managing big data, etc.).

          This list is certainly not complete, but I hope it's enough to paint a sketch. I've seen the "commodity jobs" that require gobs of "warm bodies" to complete. One of them was a re-engineering project outsourced to a big consulting firm. According to their Gantt chart, it was 16 months into the project, and time to start hiring programmers. In the interview, they actually said to me, «We've done all the thinking. All you have to do is sit down and just write the code. When can you start. Do you have a resume?» And that's just one kind of "make-work" job -- there are plenty more.

          • I think I see what you were saying now. So the limits to outsourcing have to do with the separability of IT from domain knowledge. Since the domain knowledge resides in the USA, the more interesting jobs will reside in the USA.

            That may be true for the short term, but I'm not sure about the long term.

            • one day soon if not already, important customers/markets will not be American.
            • even for American customers, domain knowledge isn't all that tied to the USA. American companies consult around the world too.
            • So the limits to outsourcing have to do with the separability of IT from domain knowledge. Since the domain knowledge resides in the USA, the more interesting jobs will reside in the USA.

              That's a good chunk of it. Some work will remain here (or in Canada, or Switzerland, or ...) because there's a critical mass of learning and people available to crack a problem. There's no reason why India or China can't become the leading center of computational astrophysics, but NASA Goddard will probably remain on