What can’t be outsourced?

I don’t believe you outsource your convictions and principles to people.”
Jeb Bush

When there are under-developed countries generating hundreds of thousands of highly educated engineers, developers, analysts, etc each year who will deliver at a fraction of the labour rates of the developed world. This provides a massive shift of opportunity for CSPs and vendors. Some people see the advantages (relatively cheap labour to build new stuff), others see the disadvantages (career insecurity).

The advantages are relatively easy to see for anyone who can harness change via their creativity and drive to innovate. But what are the hedges to protect you against the disadvantages if you’re not so entrepreneurial? Let’s start by looking at what can’t be outsourced.

Anywhere there is a defined process, it can be automated. Conversely, non-routine decision making is unable to be replicated or replaced by automatons. When there are hundreds of workers on a production line, each worker can be asked to produce a high volume of output but within a very narrow field of expertise.

But if you seek to increase your expertise, becoming ever more remarkable across a broader range of domains, you become more irreplaceable than someone with a narrow range of capability.

So what attributes are truly irreplaceable:

  • Creativity / Innovation / Design / Vision / Art
  • Empathy / Sensitivity
  • Entertainment / Storytelling / Training
  • Selling
  • Solving problems, particularly those with no precedent
  • Solution delivery

OctopOSS are outsourced on a regular basis, often due to reasons of size and complexity combined with cost and duration constraints. But the cross-domain visionaries are the essential glue that binds all the limited domain experts together. They are a pivotal, but rare breed and the outsourcing model is unlikely to replace them in the foreseeable future, at least not on successful OctopOSS projects.

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