In my last column, The LaaS frontier, I\u00a0described the 3500 IT freelancers in Bangladesh who, courtesy of the Web and the US enabling venture oDesk, are working for a diversity of global clients.\nI suggested the acronym Labour-as-a-Service (LaaS) be added to the growing portfolio of cloud sourcing possibilities.\nI have now learnt, from a June 2011 investor presentation, of AOL\u2019s drive to \u201cempower our engineers to be smarter, faster, more efficient\u201d by approaches that include \u201coDesk brain extension\u201d.\nEach established AOL developer can directly engage up to three freelancers from across the globe to support his or her work \u2013 essentially AOL delegating the ability to offshore to its front line.\nBut back to Bangladesh. I am currently advising the International Trade Centre (ITC) on the development of the Bangladesh offshoring proposition.\nA joint venture of the UN (in the form of its trade and development body UNCTAD) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the ITC\u2019s remit is the development of trade as a means of speeding economic development.\nIT offshoring is the natural development of international trade in technology-enabled services.\nFor all the push-back there is in theUK against IT offshoring (\u2018losing jobs to India\u2019, for instance) the reality is that the UK, in turnover terms, exports well over twice as much in computing and software services as it imports.\nThe UK is a competitive offshoring location: we gain many more jobs than we lose, so cost is clearly not the only factor in the equation.\nFor Bangladesh, however, cost is clearly a competitive factor.\nA country of 162 million people, it has inherited good universities from its colonial days as East Bengal, and with it a fast-growing pool of well trained IT engineers that can be recruited at salary levels well below those of neighbours India.\nThe quality of these technical professionals is attested to by Samsung, which has set up a 250-strong R&D centre near the capital, Dhaka.\nBut Bangladesh has another significant competitive factor. Its IT software sector is a mass of some 800 small enterprises, only 10 of which employ more than 100 professionals (the largest employs just over 400).\nA quarter of these companies are engaged internationally and there are significant success stories. One example is GraphicPeople, whose state-of-the-art studio located in Dhaka provides offshore print and digital production services to global clients that include Dell.\n\nSir\u00a0Martin Sorrell\u2019s agency network WPP\u00a0has recently taken a stake in it.\nI have crossed swords with the Indian arm of KPMG on this key aspect of the Bangladesh IT industry.\nIn a draft report commissioned by the ITC they describe an industry that is highly fragmented with hundreds of small vendors vying for market position.\n\u201cOpportunities exist for these players to consolidate and gain economies of scale and service expertise to compete for larger contracts. The current market is geared towards small projects with niche offerings,\u201d it reads.\nI have yet to hear the UK\u2019s mass of tech and media SMEs described as \u2018highly fragmented\u2019.\nRather, in the context of the UK economy, they are widely recognised as an important source of innovation and new employment.\nThe real challenge these Bangladeshi SMEs face is that their natural business partners and potential clients are, in the main, other SMEs.\nHow to reach out into that SME community across the globe?\nThe global IT offshoring business thus far has been dominated by big players mating with other big players.\nHow does a determined tech SME in Dhaka reach out to the 50,000 or more potential SME partners or clients in the UK?\nThis is why the 3500 freelancers in Bangladesh caught my eye.\nCourtesy of oDesk\u2019s eBay-type marketplace they are, as single-person operations, successfully winning business across the world.\nBut the challenge remains that it takes two to tango, so how do we get the UK\u2019s SMEs to consider \u2018going global\u2019?\nI have written in these columns of my experiences advising Quickstart Global, which enables SMEs to set up captive operations overseas, giving them access to new talent pools and much improved cost competitiveness.\nCEO Neal Gandhi will tell you that the typical UK SME CEO is just too busy to invest time in grasping the opportunity.\nBut get them on the plane to Sophia or to Baroda where they see first-hand that they can have a captive extension to their UK team that rapidly grows their responsiveness and competitiveness, and they act.