by Stephanie Overby

Would You Actually Outsource to These Countries?

Aug 01, 20074 mins
IT Leadership

BusinessWeek highlighted ten new countries on A.T. Kearney’s list of top offshore outsourcing destinations.

Estonia made an auspicious entrance at number 15 on the top 50 countdown, edging out such well-known offshore players as Russia, Israel, and our friendly neighbor to the north, Canada.

Other A.T. Kearney debutantes included Latvia, Lithuania, Uruguay, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Senegal, Ukraine, and Pakistan.

Yes, Pakistan.

Here at CIO, we publish an offshore outsourcing guide of own. The last time we researched offshore hot spots (last summer), Pakistan fell off the list – too much geopolitical uncertainty. Ukraine made it on the map. Aside from a story in the New York Times, I don’t believe Estonia had gained quite enough traction to garner a mention. None of the other newbies on the list warranted a spot.

A comprehensive, ordered list like A.T. Kearney’s has its merits. The problem is that it’s geared toward IT services providers and other potential investors in these regions, not to would-be buyers of offshore IT services (read: you). Some of the data they base their rankings on are germane to CIO readers. Most of it is tangential.

IT research houses like Gartner and Forrester and outsourcing consultants like neoIT offer a fair amount of research geared toward the IT leader on specific outsourcing locales, but coverage of areas like Africa or the Middle East are spotty at best. (Of course, sometimes they surprise you. A few months ago, Gartner came out of the nowhere with some information on Cuba as IT services provider!)

IT publications like us try to bridge the gap. But truth be told, we’re heavily reliant on those third-party sources of information cited above. We use our reporting and research skills, and our experiences talking to actual IT leaders who offshore, to tease out the most accurate information we can. But no matter how many times I get you to click on this page, CIO magazine is never going to shell out enough money to send me on a round-the-world trip to get the real scoop on the state of global IT services providers. So we work with what we have.

Which brings me back to the A.T. Kearney list. I don’t know of any U.S.-based IT leaders that send enterprise work to Sri Lanka or Pakistan. I’ve talked to some tech companies that outsource to Ukraine. And I know other central and eastern European countries appear attractive to, well, European companies looking to cut costs by outsourcing. Apparently, Latvia is a go-to spot for Nordic companies, or so BusinessWeek tells me. Workers in Morocco and Senegal speak French. I’ve written about Brazil and some other Latin American countries as offshore possibilities, so I guess Uruguay isn’t that much of a stretch. I had to google Mauritius, I’m embarrassed to say. But now I know that it’s the most accessible island in the Indian Ocean and offers “a tropical paradise akin to Maui or Martinique but more budget-traveler friendly.”

But as I read the article in BusinessWeek and click through some of the gorgeous pictures of these counties that they’ve included in their slide show, I have to wonder how relevant this is to the average IT leader. My guess is: not very.

  Tell me I’m wrong. Please. Share your experiences outsourcing to any of the countries mentioned here (or any others I may not have heard of). At the very least, maybe I can get CIO to send me somewhere to check it out. I’m thinking Mauritius in November sounds pretty nice… Stephanie Overby

Senior Editor

CIO magazine /  

(Footnote: For those interested, countries that slid down in A.T. Kearney’s rankings  included Canada, Ireland, Philippines, Singapore, and the United States. Increased cost and competition are to blame.)