Hot Labor Day

The debate about the benefit vs. problems of offshoring IT continues. A report from a consultant at Deloitte Consulting says offshoring is good because it will free dollars up for R&D and that will result in better jobs overall. And the President apparently made a remark during Labor Day to the effect that offshoring has something to do with not keeping skills up-to-date which brought a sharp response from an IT professional through InformationWeek. It’s interesting to see the reaction of people who seemed unconcerned about these globalism issues until their profession felt the impact of the phenom.

For both sides of the argument, see the last issue of Business Week. The whole issue was about the future of technology.

So why get so focused on this? Because I think what is happening in IT is just a prelude to what is going to happen in many professions based on information. For my money the two biggest forces at work on the future are: 1) globalism, and 2) information flow. And they synergize each other. Information and skills are beginning to flow around the world like water. The barriers are coming down and the volume is going up.

Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, in the same Business Week said he thought pretty much everything about accounting will go to lower cost nations. First, big networks and databases enabled centralizing and economizing on services in the US (like our own Shared Services), and the next step is shipping it out altogether. Larry might be expressing wishful thinking because Oracle wants to supply the software for such systems, but I think he’s correct overall. Larry’s solution? Get over it, and go into molecular biology.

But that’s my point: the same general thing is likely to happen in many informational sciences, and there’s nothing more information intensive than bioinformatics. I’m not saying everything in life science is going away, but perhaps it’s just irrelevant where it is going to happen. Working on genetics, proteomics and bioinformatics is an international effort. Parts of the job will happen in different places, and it will be a worldwide phenomenon. Pride and sentiment makes me want the US to be the leader. But I think the issues around IT are going to be seen in many professions, and it seems that the reality of global markets for talent is going to produce turbulence here. I think it’s an key piece of the context of our future, and it’s already got a lot of energy.