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Offshoring and the Future of US Developers

Our company is a small tech outfit in the US and Ive been there 8+ years and we have slowly grown our development team. Last year, the company decided to hire a guy who has brought in an offhsoring group, and we are building a small army of people down there, and seeing developers here leave.

I LOVE software programming and believe innovation begins and ends with the US developer. Its because working with guys here, Ive been able to develop some amazing things. Since Ive started managing some of these programmers overseas, Ive seen less quality and more difficulty developing and managing with this group. But I see the company moving this way and my boss has told me we will all be architects only next year and spec writers, not programmers.

Which should I do to keep my career going in this global economy?

1. Move into architect or management postions and develop that skill, and less programming, so I can manage an army of offshore employees next year?
2. Continue as I am, and stay solid with my software skills and move to a US company that needs us developers
3. Quit IT and go to another field, as its all going overseas, and I cant do what I love because in 10 years, Ill be making lower wages anyway

Im TOTALLY confused, because on the one hand I see tech jops and demand in the US and worldwise are up, and software engineers seem to be in demand in the US, despite 8 years of outsourcing. And even schools arent graduating enopugh kids. Then I turn around, and see companies selling out quality and crafstmanship in softwaare development by hiring all these H1B's and offshoring, instead of agressively hiring talent and using it in the US.

To me, I see there is a huge divide between more need for US innovators and less need for US innovators in corporate America. What am I mssing? I need to figure this out quickly so I can either stay in my company and retool and go into management and leave what I love behind for the almighty dollar, or believe in what the government says and stats say, and that techies will be in short supply the next 10 years. Thanks!
frustrated techie
Saturday, December 15, 2007
As a general rule, don't trust the government, any government. In most of the developed world, it is a government of the people, by the corporations, for the corporations.
Ori Berger Send private email
Saturday, December 15, 2007
You should quit now before your job is outsourced. Try real estate. Way back in 2001 I remember all the predictions -- offshoring will kill high-tech in America, we'll all move to other industries or starve, etc.

Fast forward to the year 2007.  Look, it all came true.  We aren't here.  We have no jobs.  Companies like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Intel, etc, all moved their development activities to India and China.  Look at all the jobs that don't exist in Seattle, Austin, the bay area.

I also seem to remember predictions that we'd all be telecommuting, saving companies millions on real estate.  And look, that happened too!  And it happened for the same reasons as offshorting happened!

Don't base your career decisions on one small nothing company. If your company thinks offshoring is the solution, ditch them and find a new job.

Saturday, December 15, 2007
I've personally given up on the computer programming and computer engineering fields. They have been in serious trouble for years in the US.

As I see it, the basic underlying problem is this. We are victims of the success of IT. IT and computer engineering and implementation roles used to be much more sparsely distributed than they are today, so in the past - in the 1980 -  you could pretty much make your resume whatever you want it to be. That started to change in the 1990s as IT caught the attention of the recruiting and staffing industry, whose sole agenda is to treat anyone in their scope of interest as fungible commodities. At the same time, PCs and computers became utterly ubiquitous.

Today, the staffing model that seems to apply to IT is the "factory worker" or "Army grunt" role. You have to fit, and the degree of fit has to be exact and perfect. Masses of lookalike people clawing for some marginal recognition using cookie cutter, lookalike IDEs and languages. And all of us held to strictly regimented job and performance standards.

I have left IT mentally for years. This season I started to do something tangible about it.  This doesn't make someone who wants to stay in software development stupid or misguided, but you had better completely be in love with the subject matter, because only the strongest motivation to be the brightest guy with the most toys will suffice to stay competitive.

So, you're seeing the bleeding edge of this industry. And yes, the US is pissing its seed corn away.
Bored Bystander Send private email
Saturday, December 15, 2007
If you are truly good at programming then you'll be able to make good money in IT for a long, long time.

I would leave your current job.  Onshore architect == the guy responsible for the offshore developers.  Have fun rewriting all of their wonderful code!
bob, from accounting Send private email
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Because you are managing the oversea team and/or serving as a initial architect, then you're in a very safe position.  But the catch is, if you are purely management and don't code on the project, realize you will get rusty.  Are you ok with this, are you sure you want to take your career that way?

As you stated yourself, the paranoia of "the sky is falling" isn't going to happen (to a degree it is) but just like it's been 7yrs since the 2000 assessments and they haven't come true, they won't be much truer 7yrs from now.

Good developers has a future, but run of the mill coders should be worried, especially if you are in large teams.  The smaller your team, and the more sensitive the data, the most secure your job is.

Healthcare IT is a good place to be, because of HIPPA paranoia, they will never outsource their developers.  Small shops are safe too (there's more risk than savings to oursource a small 3-5 person team).

I'm actually joining a team in a few weeks that's playing the "handful of senior guys in America, and all the day-to-day coders overseas", not to India, but I'm going to see how this works out.
TravisO Send private email
Saturday, December 15, 2007
"Try real estate. "

You're kidding, right?  With the subprime meltdown I'd think that realestate will be a croweded field.

However, that being said, once you get established I bet you can make as much or more than you might as a programmer. Of course, if you had the necessary people skills and sales & marketing ability you might do well with an ISV (if you could find an underserved niche.)
Mr. Analogy Send private email
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Thanks everyone for the feedback. My feelings are closest to Travis's point of view.

In 2004, I initailly reevaluated my career as I was reading all this offshoring stuff, then started seeing some failure in offshoring and some pullback. Also reading about 70% attrition rates in India, and higher salaries and tech forces tapped out in some areas overseas. Also kinda funny to read American companies who originally outsourced to say Tata, now Tata and the other India companies are competing against them for IT services here in the US, which I also have been predicting and following in the news. Then I turn around and read how per capita spending worlwide on IT services from the US still dwarfs sepnding by the US overseas, so its a very confusing trend we are experiencing, my fellow techies, and not clear cut as Lou Dobbs would tend to make us feel on the news channels.

I think this global deal is the great
equalizer, so everyone wins and everyone loses, in a weird way. That means you could lose your job in the US programming for IBM, then turn around in Boston and get hired again by Tata consulting groups. Funny!

My experience is like Travis, in a small tech company thats been somewhat insulated from offshoring till this past year. Now they are gung-ho about it and thats what Im worried about somewhat. I can survive as an architect as I have 9 solid years building web apps and my skills, for now, are above those Im dealing with overseas. But some of the young guys over there Ive worked with are sharp, and do good work, ill admit, but are still not loyal, dont know how to debug and dont have the innovation or experience to push a project to successful completion. So, Im valuable to my company for now. But if I do what some of my fellow team members will likely do, and thats refuse to lower quality and refuse to manage these overseas teams, I could see a permamnent cap on my salary the next few years and whats worse, eventually be replaced by these guys. My boss told us last year not to worry, there is plenty of work, and there is and they dont want to see anyone leave. But if the tech field slows, I know the guys with the biggest salaries are the first to go.

SinceIm starting my own software company on the side now, I know, if I ever had to hire, which would I choose, cheaper younger guy overseas or a top knotch expensive US programmer. I would most likely go for the US guy, but if I grew beyond my means and couldnt find top talent here, why not hire overseas. So, I see both sides.

My resolution for now, is to not be a "sour American", but a realist. Reality is I see plenty of demand for engineers in the US for some years. But reality is, the money train is following those who can adapt to the world economy as it evolves and more programming in even smaller companies is moved overseas. I will remain a programmer doing my own company on the side and building stuff, but to put food on the table, I have to adapt and in the long term, say goodbye to this profession the next 10 years, as most of that will likely be done overseas.

Last matter how much programming jobs we end up moving outside the US, you cannot innovate overseas! Thats seems to be a trait unique to the US. Look at where Adobe started, Microsoft, our space program, the automobile, the lightbulb......that all started here. There is something we have in our diverse culture in the US with people that work here that fosters creativity these other societies  cannot equate. Thats why, if my company ever gets off teh ground, I'll be looking for the top programmers here, and let the grunt work be done overseas. Im just sad most US companies cannot see that fact! Thats truly bizarre to me!

Ive worked with overseas programmers this past year and you have to tell them everything...they cant think outside the box very well....not like Americans. Thats worth more money to a company that anything, you would think and is going to be the great differentiator over time, and why I have hope still for this profession here. Just not hope for most of corporate America, who will learn the hard way they cant compete with that model against Tata, without the US programmer edge.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Defense jobs can't be outsourced, and there is a TON of demand for developers, IT people and software engineers in all defense and aerospace fields.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Dear frustrated techie, I think your next career move should be to become a writer for a PR firm.

There, you could pretend to be a programmer asking questions about offshoring, while quietly working to quash opposition to offshoring.

You might get a few things wrong to start with. For example, you might accidently reveal your fundamental contempt for programmers by having your fictitious hero beleive that "innovation begins and ends with the US developer." (Note: no programmers are dumb enough to believe that.)

However that's a minor point and I'm sure most programmers on JoS won't pick that up.

You could also pretend to be asking questions, while actually promoting the idea that programmers move up to architect jobs. Let them believe that until they get retrenched.

frustrated writer
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Thanks fellow "frustrated"...funny stuff!

No, Im just here to stir the pot of lively debate. Thats what this blog is about, right? My question remains...should I adapt or move on? I like to know and read what others have experienced, trust me. But I also like to express a few of my ideas, even if they sound like PR to some. Its all food for thought, right?
Saturday, December 15, 2007
A guy from some far country here, one of where they outsource to (Ukraine).

To keep your career in global economy think about your competitive advantages over them overseas - you understand the customer better, you know all the culture things that they still need to learn, you know the way people do business better, you can interact/communicate better thats pretty much it.
There is nothing in software/coding/programming/oop/design/ that you can do better, so no sense to reject this.

You need to work on the skills that makes you unique - I guess there are no silver bullet.

Many jobs will go away, thats normal.
You already used to chineese products, and this happened over last 40? years, in IT this will happen MUCH faster.

I can tell you what happens inside these outsourced countries and houses if you interested to know - can give great insider info if you wish.
Ruslan Send private email
Saturday, December 15, 2007
>you cannot innovate overseas!
The computer was invented where?

>our space program,

>the automobile
Germans again

>the lightbulb.
Martin Send private email
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Thanks Ruslan. Yes everything you say is true. No doubt that IT is going to equalize everyone here quickly if it hasnt done so already. And, yes, I was wrong to use the word "Americans". Smart and talented and "innovative" people everywhere in the world, and yes, people overseas can program better that doubt about that! We have H1B's, people from China, S. America, Canadians, Germans, Vietnamese and other places in our offices working now. All equally talented. We have a Romanian and C. Rican team as well working with us. All equally talented.

What I guess what I was trying to say, is, if software development and successful IT projects was as simple as a "good customer-facing" US person and a "skillful offshore programmer", then ALL of IT, all of the technology that goes into designing cars, aircraft, architecture, and even the space program in the US would have been shipped overseas wholesale years ago! It hasnt and is still far from that! Yes, we have things made in countries all over the world, like China, but we dont yet have a company thats shipped all its innovation overseas completely? And some of that has come back due to quality concerns, cost, and other factors. If that was the case, then all we would have at this time in the US would be a CEO, handful of sales managers, and an army of innovators building and designing and developing everything overseas.

Same speaks for IT. I see allot of serious work shipped overseas, but I dont see 100% innovation done overseas in IT.

Its easy to program. Its easy to be a cheap, fast, young talented top knotch developer that can compete. Its darn hard to build an innovation team, and work through the creative, interface, usability, manageability, performance, bug-tracking, and customer-evolving changes that take a software project from barely functional or even failure to a polished rock solid application that returns huge ROI for the customer. Thats what Im seeing with the offshore teams Ive worked with. More code cleanup and baby-siiting that real value as far as projects go. Management and the CEO loves it as on paper they see the numbers, but the guys that innovate the really good software projects are able to put all the pieces together thinking outside the box. And thats not what I see in people overseas. I would be willing to bet, "most" of the great software used by the world is written by experienced people here, and that are left in the industry. Im talking successful software tools. That would be hard to measure, and is debatable.

Overseas programmers, from my experience, are talented...yes, and even more skilled in some cases in terms of programming. But not so good at "innovating". That involves allot more effort than being a skilled programmer. There is a subtle difference. Its more than just writing spec docs and "customer-facing". Thats a job for Biz Analysts and salesman. Not IT Innovators.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Anon/frustrated techie, I think you're whistling in the dark.

>> but I dont see 100% innovation done overseas in IT.

I'd say just wait. Just because you don't see it now doesn't mean that it isn't coming.

What's 100% innovation, anyway? Most commercial stuff is a rehash of something else. Bill Gates basically copied his way to his fortune by having his company mimic pioneering companies.

And that's the problem. Anything associated with IP and software can be successfully copied, somehow. It may be difficult. It may have a high risk:reward ratio. Whatever. The point is: if someone else sees that you have lucrative business and if they have the ability to mimic what you are doing at lower cost, then they absolutely will do so.

My experience with offshoring is thus. Take this as a warning to not think that you have come up with a safe harbor.

I contracted at an IBM division in the late 1980s that was using Indian contractors for certain low-level tasks who were supplied by a strangely named company called Tata. WTF is with that, anyway? I thought.

So these herds of "heads down testers", QA people, and data entry people were living 4 or 6 to a 2 bedroom apartment in Boca Raton, being paid peanuts, sharing a single car to come to work.

I thought at the time, what a freaking joke. Ok, I have nothing to fear from these people. All they can do is low level rote tasks.

Well, in the last 20 years, Indian outsourcing companies have *closely* studied US technology culture. Overall, India and other service oriented tech economies may suck at innovation and invention currently. But give them time, and that will happen as well.

It doesn't matter if their skin is brown, and they speak Hindi or oddly accented English that is run together, and that they're 12,000 miles away. That was my mistake when I was younger, to associate  strong cultural surface differences  with lower competency or intelligence or ability to "get it".

I predict that architecture, business analysis, and eventually, new product development and consulting directly to end users will be part of the repertoire of Indian and other nationality offshorers, and probably a hell of a lot faster than you'd care to know.

So then, where does the US developer go?

That's why I am finished with trying to stay in the mainstream of this field. The center of gravity of this industry is shifting with lower cost structures. Today, Silicon Valley and Seattle. Tomorrow, Hyderabad. Or maybe Shanghai. 

And it's all cost driven. The economy has become a huge Wal-Mart style sourcing engine. And IT has become a mass-purchase commodity that strong attention is on to perpetually reduce costs.
Bored Bystander Send private email
Saturday, December 15, 2007
By the way, I'm not blaming offshoring or Indian offshoring in particular.

What has happened in IT is, like I said, a "commodity mindset". Executives and management like to believe that programmers and other software people are fungible.

The somewhat recent ability to hire a foreign person at 1/5 the cost of a US citizen for the same high skilled job has contributed to a view that company management is obliged to look for the cheapest person and "resources" to do the task at hand.

It's always been that way, of course. The problem now is that it is perceived that there is no risk or penalty associated with low cost. The old rule used to be "you get what you pay for". Now owners believe that this old canard is out the window. Business owners now believe that high competency should cost no more than average competency.
Bored Bystander Send private email
Saturday, December 15, 2007
" you cannot innovate overseas! Thats seems to be a trait unique to the US. Look at where Adobe started, Microsoft, our space program, the automobile, the lightbulb......that all started here."

Wow... Do you really believe this?

I can agree that the US society helps to entrepreneur a lot more that most of the European countries. But your speech seemed to suggest that you were talking about some kind of cognitive ability as creativity. I think that the kind of creativity that you were looking for, in the context of "overseas programmers vs US programmers", are not US specific.

I also think that the bad quality of off shoring programmers are caused by the off-shoring architecture. I bet that if some French or UK company off-shored their programs to US developers the quality of the product will awful too: it is not easy to manage a distributed team.

Francesc, from BCN
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I've been on many sites where offshoring was begun or was in the process. I have yet to see on that was a real success.

The results have always sucked - and the cost savings were soon shown to be neglible in the end. But in order to save face, management will put a happy spin on the project even if it doesn't do half of what they wanted and is about as well designed as what you'd get from feeding my dog a C# book and collecting the poo.
Perly Whites Send private email
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Sorry guys, we disagree. There is a level of innovation that occurs in IT thats unique in this country (US), no doubt bout that. Im not saying that cant be cloned, copied, immulated, moved, transferred, or done better in some areas. Im just saying allot of innovation in IT began in the US, and is still here. It may be moving away slowly, but its something definately you need to experience here. Do you disagree???? Sure, its moved all over the world and transplanted when compamies move that creative cuture around, but it seems to start here. Look at Google, Microsoft, IBM, Adobe. Sure they do work overseas, but where did all that creative innovation start? Think about what that really hard for a moment and what that implies.....

Im not saying Americans are any smarter or better or faster or anything. Im not saying offshoring doesnt bring a "level" of innovation to IT projects. Im saying, you cannot start a company in the US, come up with an idea, send 100% of it overseas, and come back with it in the US and say anything truly innovative was created, simply because no innovation was done? I mean, if 100% of IT is shipped overseas, and everyone does it, whats the differentior thats left? ideas????? Surely if offshore employees are smart enough to program they should be able to come up with the dumb ideas some CEO or salesman in America shipped overseas to be created. My point is...the one thing left that makes IT great in the US, from my experience, is the "IT INNOVATORS" or US engineers. Not the CEO's that come up with a software idea on the golf course, but the guys that actually put the darn thing together. I do believe that can be built on some level offshore, but the innovation resides in the US, for the most part. The day ALL that leaves, then Tata and all the others out compete Microsoft and all IT companies in the US, because they now have figured out how to innovate. Right now, they havet. Programming isnt innovation.

What I am saying, is, there is something about the freedom and creative spirit in the US that fosters more risk-taking, more innovation, more invention, than any other country in the world. Why is the US the leader in so many feilds???? Im not trying to be an arrogant American, just stating the facts. Look at how we built allot of things....we were the first and thats why we remain one of the richest countries. We have the WORST educational systems and devalue smart people, unlike India, but we value creativity. I have seen this in person with people who have worked with me who have come here from all over the world and are brought into this climate. We encourgage thinking outside the box and that gives us an edge in many fields.

Thats not to say we are smarter or better or are not losing this battle in IT. I see that....but innovation remains very strong here. We done clone armies of engineers, we built risk-takers. Our problem is we are dumming down now, and sooin wont compete. Our creative freedoms is out only edge, and thats what I see working in the US and with offshoring teams.

Case in point. I worked with an H1B Indian guy this year on a project here in the US, and he was awesome! But we also worked with an offshore team in India, and they added no innovation whatsoever. This guy here in the US with me was brilliant guy, but having trouble architecting and thinking creatively to solve some very complicated architectural issue. Working with me he was finally able to open up, and able to take risks with me and instead of buying libraries and following the herd, we built our own libraries and we innovated a great project together, and pulled it off with our design team here in the US. Working with the overseas team we didnt get that level of innovation from India we needed, and the project had many complicated twists and turns and late nights and we eventually came up with some creative alternate solutions that now have savd the project. The Indians teams code from overseas, most of that we had to rewrite as it was very poor in quality and just cloned code from iopen-source libraries that never worked right and had performance issues.

So, my point is, this has nothing to do with intelligence, race, skillsets, or even managing offshored workers. I experienced all that. It has to do with the important of innovation in IT, and encourgement to think creatively and break rules and go beyond requirements and build quality code, that matches the end-users needs. My experience with this H1B working side-by-side in the US was fantastic,because here in the US, we encouraged this fellow to think creatively, rather than the cloned armies of programmers we dealth with overseas, which never were able to go the extra mile or connect with the customer's needs and the projects quality level, like we were.

Thats what innovation really is about...
frustrated coder
Sunday, December 16, 2007
One misconception you have is the difference between contract work, and everything else in IT, including origination of technology and development of new products.

Contract work never gives anyone a chance to shine. And the one aspect that most of us usually see of offshore workers is contracted development. Generally, the onus is on the contractor or contractor company to be as conservative as possible and to simply bill hours. The role neither calls for groups of Linus Torvalds nor would it really permit it.

I've seen some real shyte produced as billable product by offshore operations in India and it's clear that a lot of the hours billed were just exploitive churn. However, much of that mediocrity is induced by the simple fact that it's a remote billing relationship and is not one where the offshore people have any stake in the success of the enterprise. It's easy money. The Indians have been going for the easy money.

What I'm saying is that perhaps it's not a forgone conclusion that the cultural aspects of computer business entrepreneurship will transfer to India and other places.

But it IS an unknown and it does NOT follow that these talents won't transfer. Once the US dries up as a lucrative source of service business wealth, Indian companies may be forced to dig in and produce some value added product for a change - not simply code to spec any more.
Bored Bystander Send private email
Sunday, December 16, 2007
> Why is the US the leader in so many feilds?

I'm an Indian, and it's clear to me that the US is light years ahead of India in the area of innovation. We simply do not have the physical, intellectual or "social" infrastructure to produce the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Google. I just don't see an Indian undergraduate having the pluck to do what Jobs or Ellison did when they were undergraduates. It's analogous to how it's impossible for India to create the Nimitz class carrier or the F-22 Raptor - we simply can't do it as of now!

But lets have some perspective here. Societies, especially the ones that value education, and freedom of the mind and the individual, are capable of making immense strides (and I do believe that it's ills notwithstanding, fundamentally India is such a society).

To cite an example in a slightly different area than commerce, there was a time, perhaps as late as the 19th and early 20th century, when the US itself was basically an intellectual basket-case when compared to Europe. We're talking of titans like Gauss, Riemann, Cauchy, Hilbert, Boltzmann, Maxwell, Mill, and Cantor to whom you'd be hard pressed to find American contemporaries of equal stature. But that did not prevent US from producing the largest number of Nobel prize winners ( later in the 20th century.

The point is, transformations of the scale that you feel won't happen actually *have* happened, not once, but several times. It has happened right in the US. It will happen in India, and in many other developing nations in the decades to come.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Arun, what you say, for the most part is true. Except again, one factor that everyone on here keeps forgeting. And this does apply to IT...what gives the US an edge over all other countries in many areas is the great melting pot of peoples, cultures and ideas, that continues to draw allot of the world's talent, and people, and entreprenuers and innovators, etc. That doesnt mean that the US wont decline and fall behind in a number of competing areas. For sure, India rigourous educational system and attitude towards educating their workforce is far superior. I see that more than ever here in the US now.

But its not about brain power or intellect in IT. Thats whaty Im saying people forget now in least US businesses. Again, its about a culture here that draws some of the best talent locally and abroad (and away from India even). And when people come here, they are influenced by our free and open society, and encouraged and paid to create and grow as individuals in a way thats not as rewarded in India, or any other similar monocultural society. You are not held down here by huge taxes, socialist democracies, our rigid concepts like in other countries. If you work hard, and create something unique, you will succeed as a business person here. To compete here, you have to offer something different and better. Allot of people here at times are very driven and constantly creating or conceving new ideas and ways to improve things....and in IT, thats why programmers here (I claim) are different. Thats based on my experience with offshoring and local talent comparisons in the IT field.

If you want tp create a society that progrms well and builds good technology, thats all well and good. If you want to create something that is unique and not like anything else in the world, thats innovating and thats what makes the likes of Microsoft, Sun, Adobe, and others great and dominating global companies. They are built on innovation, not offshoring and mediocre software.

To tap into US markets with IT, you have to build something new and unique. Cloned open-source software isnt always going to fly as to compete, you have to have an element of innovation, quality, constant evaluation and improvement, and rigorous quality. I do see much of that in offshoring models, accept when companies move their corp. culture overseas, then it has a chance to foster something. But otherwise, I see innovation due to the extreme business competitive environment over here being a unique trait ties to Americans. Not that there are not great things in IT in any country. Im saying its here, but we will lose that in IT if businesses here dont foster support for their US comrads in business IT circles here. I see that slipping away, and thats why India will probably out compete the likes of IBM's business services and eventaully parts of Microsoft and Google's business models. But these other counrties have to do something new in IT like the US has done the past 30 years. I dont see much of that....
frustrated coder
Sunday, December 16, 2007
> Why is the US the leader in so many feilds? [fields maybe?]

The capital, and I know it's true even though I've been here for only eleven months. USA—I wonder why people leave the A, they're not the only states united, you know?—is the country who really know the value of money, or at least the people who command; we know them, they decide, and even though other players are showing off, these "arrivists" know who to consult when trouble happen.

Anyway, I going to study economics next year, because something's really fishy about this notion; and maybe, this is what my home country does not understand.
Noagbodji Victor Send private email
Sunday, December 16, 2007
"I LOVE software programming and believe innovation begins and ends with the US developer."

Do you type with a pitchfork and wear coveralls?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
"you cannot innovate overseas! Thats seems to be a trait unique to the US"



US Navy
Started by a Scotsman

Scottish, though some people reckon the Chinese were first :-)
Plus: Donald Trump's mum was Scottish

Far East

Bad Weather
Scotland :-)

Was Einstien American?

Where did your most common languages (English and Spanish) come from?

If you think about it, other than the native Americans, all of you are fairly recent immigrants.

The US may have a culture of supporting innovation, but I don't think you have the right to say "you cannot innovate overseas!"

Have a Nice Day
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The problem is that big companies only look at cost, and will shitcan American programmers to hire Indians so the CEO can earn an extra couple million dollars due to "cutting costs".  These leeches do business here, but refuse to hire Americans because they're unwilling to pay for what they view as grunt work. 

As long as stockholders and business management only cares about lining their own pockets, instead of providing useful services and helping the economy (OUR economy.  Don't give me this "Global Economy" bullshit), they'll outsource because it'll save a couple bucks.

I'm not arguing for or against the quality of Indian programmers; I've heard of some good ones and seen some really bad ones.  The issue is that these are AMERICAN companies, and they try to cheat AMERICANS by paying low wages to foreigners instead of decent wages to their own countrymen.
Newbie IT Director
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Ok, finally I see one great single point being made by the OP that I think outweighs a lot of other considerations: the cosmopolitan aspect of US society and business (even though the US is incredibly provincial internally.)

>> ....what gives the US an edge over all other countries in many areas is the great melting pot of peoples, cultures and ideas, that continues to draw allot of the world's talent, and people, and entreprenuers and innovators, etc.

Most other countries lean at times toward xenophobia and protectionism on a vast scale. The US sort of opens everything up wide open and says "yeah, we'll trade with you even though you won't trade fairly with us... go ahead and rape us economically! Tax the shit out of our products but we're wide open to you guys. It's part of the creative destruction of jobs and we will be stronger for it in 30 or 50 years, just like always. Our children's children will thank you. Just be nice about it and leave some flowers in the morning."


The points about socialistic systems, etc are somewhat distracting because there's a lot of apples vs oranges comparisons that can be made. US society has been recently ranked as offering less upward mobility now to average citizens than some northern European countries. Socioeconomic background has a much greater bearing on US school student performance than it does in other countries, IE, an economically poor student will much more poorly than if he were middle class, so we are seeing the growth of a very stratified society. And what the US citizen lacks in tax burden are more than made up by extreme risk that the average citizen faces with issues like insurance for health care coverage.

The point is, survival issues for many US citizens will increasingly trump the abstract advantages we've gained in having Silicon Valley or other assets "right here". The US consumer is the lynchpin of the US economy.

And to get back to the purported US advantage over other societies: we may not MAKE things fair for everyone, but the instincts and traditions ingrained in our legal systems (including copyright law) are intended to make things fair and to give an equal playing field. The intent to "do right" pervades US society, even if we fall far short as a people and as a government.

If the US has a "secret sauce", that's it. We have no castes, no official cultural bias. So the US is probably more like a crucible than a melting pot of nationalistic fondue and that's been our advantage. You get your teeth knocked out here but you become a stronger person and we become a stronger country.
Bored Bystander Send private email
Sunday, December 16, 2007
> The issue is that these are AMERICAN companies,
> and they try to cheat AMERICANS by paying low
> wages to foreigners instead of decent wages to
> their own countrymen.

Nearly ever company in the western world cares about nothing but the bottom line.

Welcome to the world of capitalism.
Jussi Jumppanen
Sunday, December 16, 2007
> we were the first and thats why we remain
> one of the richest countries.

You obviously have not checked out the USA current account deficit recently.

It has been growing at an unstainable rate for years, in a manner reminiscent of the South American banana republics of decades past.
Jussi Jumppanen
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Yes, some jobs will move overshore, but no, the percent of all jobs that can be moved is limited.

In particular, it's very hard for small companies (you know, the ones that create all the new jobs) to go offshore. They aren't big enough.
Nutmeg Programmer
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Jussi Jumppanen, pleas explain how the account deficit proves the poster's statement incorrect.

Sunday, December 16, 2007
==>Way back in 2001 I remember all the predictions -- offshoring will kill high-tech in America, we'll all move to other industries or starve, etc.

I've been hearing those same predictions since the late 1980's. Hasn't happened yet. Sure -- some work ... even a large amount of work will move to where it's cheaper. That's bound to happen. OTOH, there's quite a few of us still plugging away. Decade after decade, and we ain't starvin' yet. I may have my head in the sand, but I just don't see it happening on a large enough scale that were all gonna lose our jobs and starve.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Of course, computing has always been a sucky career
and if you really wanted something secure and well
paid, you US devs would take up plumbing.

But, if you want to stays devs and do something really
smart about globalization, you should learn Mandarin.
The Chinese are going to need serious engineering
experience to catch up to the Indians. That will be
a big opportunity. The writing's hard but the grammar's
really easy and you might not have to go to China
given that there are have even been Mandarin dev jobs
advertized in San Francisco.

Also, to get another big edge, maybe learn to save some
money and take more risks, eg starting a business. You
could maybe look at contracting as a gentle start.

Finally, I'm tired of anti-foreign dev comments on this
board. I'm fairly certain I can out-imagine and out-code
99.999% of you US devs just based on my academic record,
so cut it out. The problem isn't that foreign devs
are stupid/don't care about quality/are not innovative.
The problem is the "commoditization" Bored talks about.
Object Hater
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Aaagh typo stays -> stay
Object Hater
Sunday, December 16, 2007
The impression I have is that Americans truly, deeply value entrepreneurialism -- someone can go out and start a business and be an utter disaster, but they will be highly regarded by their fellow citizens. All cultures have their pros and cons but I think it is this aspect of American culture that some posters are referring to when they talk about American advantage.
less is more
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I used to believe as the OP does about our ability to innovate being so great.  And today it probably is, but other countries will figure it out.  The human mind, when given freedom and knowledge will come up with great ideas.

The best example of all: Toyota.  They were tiny, mocked, practically nothing 40 years ago.  And today?  Can they innovate? 

I debate about telling my own kids whether they should go into IT or not.  In the end, I think starting your own company is the best defense of all (at least at a personal/family level) simply because you won't be at the whim of some greedy CEO--you can BE the greedy CEO :)
Sunday, December 16, 2007
You think starting a company is the best, but you don't do it?  Never trust the man who doesn't follow his own advice.
mikael schoppenharuer
Sunday, December 16, 2007
>>The US may have a culture of supporting innovation, but I don't think you have the right to say "you cannot innovate overseas!"<<

One of the wonderful things about the US is that you have the right to say whatever you please. Whether it is true or not is another question entirely :-)
Bart Park
Sunday, December 16, 2007
>> The problem isn't that foreign devs
are stupid/don't care about quality/are not innovative.
The problem is the "commoditization" Bored talks about.

I'd say that's a fair interpretation of my comments.

The outsourcing relationship tends to create a situation where the service provider is actually penalized for working efficiently and quickly. So you have no idea whether the people doing the work COULD do better. And the offshore stuff is sold on per-man unit costs per time period. What I tell people is "yeah, those guys are cheap, but beware the multipliers." Such as putting two or four people concurrently on a one person job.

I have walked into a few mismanaged offshored projects. The gist I have gotten from perusing some time logs of the contractors is that they weren't being pushed and they didn't care. Not necessarily that they were stupid or incapable.

A market correction, such as the dollar tanking, will open up new opportunities for the Indian companies, and then we will see what they are truly made of in the software domain.
Bored Bystander Send private email
Monday, December 17, 2007
"The US sort of opens everything up wide open and says "yeah, we'll trade with you even though you won't trade fairly with us..."

Didn't America reward European co-operation in the war on terror by imposing steel tariffs on European exports?

That's not what "free trade" normally looks like.

I think what America has that Europe is missing, is a sort of social permission to give things a try and not worry if it goes wrong. In Europe a businessman who's gone bust twice won't ever get a loan ever again, because he's proved himself a failure. In America, he's seen as someone who keeps trying until he succeeds... In Britain, the guy gets told to get a "proper job". In America, everyone says "better luck next time!".

China and India kind of allow it as well because it's much less expensive to do things over there; so you can bootstrap businesses faster.

Europe and America both make it much more expensive to do things like employ people. That's OK as long as there is a source of people willing to put money on the line. But when you combine expensive start-up costs with risk-averse money sources, there won't be the same progression.

It's not really a matter of whether you can innovate or not, because EVERY country has innovators. It's a matter of whether the innovation gets commercialised; Britain, for example, is great at inventing things and then utterly failing to turn them into businesses.

As an example, China just built what's pitched as the world's first passenger carrying maglev train. Except it's not. Britain built one in the 1980s[2]. And then didn't do anything else and finally retired it a few years ago when it got so old it was unreliable.. It's a perfectly example of failing to turn ideas into businesses. The same pattern is echoed across the UK. We built the world's first commercial computer systems[1] and then sort of.. gave up and let IBM have the market. We build the world's first VTOL fighter jets.. and then left the idea alone for a couple of decades and now all the future ones will be American. And this list just goes on and on.

There's just something in the air in Britain in particular but the rest of Europe as well, that when someone invents a better mousetrap the only question is "why?" and not "how much are you going to charge?"

The 21st century version of "made in the black country" is going to be something like "invented in Europe, believed in by Americans, made in China and sold to India.."

[1] To run tea houses, of course...

[2] Birmingham International Airport to Birmingham International Railway Station. No. Really. Maglev. Passengers. Everything.
Katie Lucas
Monday, December 17, 2007
The world is becoming flatter.  Things will equalize for workers.  That means salaries in the US, EU, Australia, other western countries will come down or stagnate while salaries go up in India, China, Russia, Vietnam, etc.

It also means a loss of advantage and the power to innovate for western countries, but this is what happens as business hand over the "family jewels" to other countries.  Western corporations are destroying their long-term advantage to make short-term profits.  The kids in India and China are just as smart as those in the west, but there are more of them.  Statistics are on their side now.

Is this good or bad?  It is what it is.
Monday, December 17, 2007
if a company starts outsourcing some jobs, they can outsource more jobs. your job is not safe. I see no reason to waste my time with a company moving jobs off shore. limits my chance for promotion. I quit a job once because the company was offshoring jobs and they were stunned.

I just don't see any reason to waste my time. Especially if you are a manager. Time investment as a manager is not as transferable to a new company as tech skills. You gain valuable knowledge about your company that you will not know about other companies. Companies that offshore generally(though not always) have less room for promotion.

your better off trying to find another job. I also don't see what the big deal is. your job is not a 'home'. Its a place to do business. Basically everyone is self employed.

btw, if you leave do NOT tell them the real reason why. Tell them "you got an offer you could not refuse and that it is just time to move on". If you tell them you are leaving due to off shoring you won't get re-hired.
Monday, December 17, 2007
to the OP - ever thought about going to work for another small company? I mean one that hasn't reached the point where they would even consider outsourcing as it wouldn't make financial sense.
Patrick from an IBank Send private email
Monday, December 17, 2007
On an individual level - that of a SW developer trying to understand what career step to take next - Contractor's attitude makes the most sense. Outsourcing and offshoring indicate that the business values short term price relief over long term value and relationships. Basically, the correct view is that a company eager to offshore isn't trustworthy and is looking to reduce costs more than it is looking to add value.

However, the environment we find ourselves in is that outsourcing to cheap-assed countries is viewed as standard "best practices", and it's difficult to find companies where offshoring is perceived correctly as a risky band-aid. It's almost a lottery gambling mentality. "Yeah, we know that most of the Indian offshoring places suck, but WE will be different because we will hold them to strict accountability". Yeah right.

So the grass is rarely greener. In fact, (to stretch a metaphor) the whole concept of what it takes to grow a greener lawn is distorted now, and you find US companies dumping figurative "Brawndo" on vegetation to make it grow faster. ;)
Bored Bystander Send private email
Monday, December 17, 2007
"The problem is that big companies only look at cost, and will shitcan American programmers to hire Indians so the CEO can earn an extra couple million dollars due to "cutting costs".

Does that mean you refuse to buy stuff from Walmart or any other business that hunts for the cheapest resources? If not, then you are just doing the same thing as the evil CEO on a smaller scale.
Greg Send private email
Monday, December 17, 2007
>Overseas programmers, from my experience, are
>talented...yes, and even more skilled in some cases in terms
>of programming. But not so good at "innovating". That
>involves allot more effort than being a skilled programmer.

This thread has grown quite long but I have to say this.

I think your specs were not sufficient and you were hoping the developers would do your thinking for you.

I'm not talking about writing specs to the point that you could use a code generator.

The design and specs of the app should be complete about what should happen when and where. Leave the how to the developers.

Your complaint sounds like what I get here in the U.S. from my analysts when they don't think things through. A lot of decisions should NOT be left to developers to make. imho, the time to think out of the box is gone by the time it is TIME TO CODE. It's not time to think about alternatives to what to do. The developers should excel in how they do it ... making it efficient, easy to understand and evolve.

What I see from analysts here in the U.S. is that they have few clues about what is possible and neve think anything through never mind alternatives.

I've worked with offshore programmers and they have done as good or better than anyone I now who is local.

Don't blame the developers local or not for a failure to do your work.
Monday, December 17, 2007
+10 to Katie Lucas

One of the smartest analysis read in months, thanks.
Francesc, from BCN
Monday, December 17, 2007
----""yeah, we'll trade with you even though you won't trade fairly with us... go ahead and rape us economically!"-------

The global trading system is grossly and unfairly skewed in favour of the US and EU.
Stephen Jones Send private email
Monday, December 17, 2007
"The global trading system is grossly and unfairly skewed in favour of the US and EU."

As the saying goes "it takes two to Tango".  For trade to be "skewed in favour of the US and EU" means other countries are dancing with them.  You have a choice of not doing business with the US or the EU.

Look around.  You think the US and EU have bad politicians?  Look at the little Third World crap holes that complain.  They are full of corruption at all levels and ends of the political spectrum.  You think US and EU companies are unfair?  Look at the companies that spring up in those same Third World crap holes.

For god sakes who plays fair with the US or EU? NO ONE!  If you don't like it BUILD YOUR OWN MARKETS, take control of your own country, vote in honest politicians (if you are allowed to even vote), etc.  Stop crying that big bad US and EU don't let you play.  No one made it easy for the US or EU they built their markets.

The Iron Fist of Reality
Monday, December 17, 2007
Heck the Third World is getting our best paying jobs and they still complain?!  They should be thanking us for giving them our jobs!
The Iron Fist of Reality
Monday, December 17, 2007
"A lot of decisions should NOT be left to developers to make. imho, the time to think out of the box is gone by the time it is TIME TO CODE. It's not time to think about alternatives to what to do."

Absolutely right. You never want developers talking to end users. They might suggest some other plan than what was painstakingly shepherded through four levels of approvals.

And let's just squash the notion right now that sometimes there are trade offs to consider. Just because the analyst's solution will take three weeks of coding effort and a new application server, while the programmer knows of a reusable component that will take one hour and no increased hardware, is no reason to institute the Change Control Process.

Alternatives should *always* be considered in isolation from the impact they cause. Implementation issues should never be allowed to intrude into the world of business decisions.

Next thing you know someone's going to suggest that maybe mere programmers could have a meaningful contribution to make to the business process. What rubbish.
Drew Kime Send private email
Monday, December 17, 2007
Frankly, I love programming too and feel innovation begins and ends in the US in IT. But more than that, the United States has done allot for the all you guys from third world countries who are complaining and throwing barbs no. This includes allot of people in Europe as well. I mean we saved your butts from the German occupation in World in WW II. We invented the bomb, its true, but it saved the world from destruction. . We invented the Internet, we have showed the Saudis how to make money billions drilling and selling oil, we have help cap Communism by winning the Cold War, which means nopty only would half of you guys be Nazis, anmd the other half communist fascists all wearing the same haircuts, and using green screens to communicate.

As for the comment about Einstein and Scottish golfing and all the BS, thats the whole point! Its the PEOPLE who come here, and who desire to come here to escape dire poverty and corruption in their own countries, who make America great, because they blossom in our country and shine....why....because of FREEDOM! They make us stronger and better. We innovate better than anyone, not because of money and power and brains....because of our CREATIVITY, and the freedom to create and be whatever we desire. We have so many different points of view that thats used to our advantage, and especially in IT circles here. I work with Chinese, Indians, Germans, Vietnamese, and many other people, all Americans who make our IT team shine> we do great work. Put us all in other countries and we are not teh same people. Its about innovation in IT thats important in the US and global economy, and that is what separates out some countries over others. That doesnt mean there are not great things going on. Thats what makes IT great. But its whats happening in the United States of America in IT, where IT workers here are being devalued for cookie-cutter off-shore, teams, thats wrong.

And as an owner of a small IT company myself, I vow to turn that around. I woudl mush rather hire a talented innovative kid here at twice the cost and have him here by my side innovating great ideas, than a small army of no-faced nobodies hacking away on my ideas in a foreign land with no input or desire to make my company shine other than to follow a specifications document.

Im not saying
Monday, December 17, 2007
Thanks everyone for the comments. Hope you dont mind if I say one last comment...

"Basically, the correct view is that a company eager to offshore isn't trustworthy and is looking to reduce costs more than it is looking to add value. "

This is my favorite comment from the bunch and the crux of the issue for me. I AM with a very small US company that has elected to try offshoring and from my experience, it has not added my value, much less innovation. It was a combination of things, true. The biggest issue was the inability to get creative feedback and solutions from this other team. You can blame that on management or some other issue, but it has more to do with culture, from my personal experience. Its true that specifications could have been tighter, but then, you are talking about "programmer", not the "senior engineers" these guys have as titles in this other country.

Also, all tehse comments about Americans see value only in business, or this person can code better than that whole point remains....its about where you work and the "environment", not the country or race or skill. Ive found teams here are able to think on their feet, out of the box, and implement and create solutions that are unique and solve real problem. Best of all, the coding aspect was one small facet of those inventions. It was more about other factors, like interactions between develoeprs and designer, clients and end-users, managers and investors, debuggers and Q and A people, architects and analysts.,.....all of which came together here in to work through the issues and create something great. When you have a distant offshored team, originating in a repressive country or culture foriegn to whats evolving here, there is no comparison. Sure, we can spec out a rigid 200 page spec...and throw it over any wall and it gets done...thats "programming". Dont call those guys "engineers" though. Thats something different. I programmer programs, an engineer creates, and thats what we need to nurture here in the US.

Finally, for the record, after 9 years of innovating here in the United States, Im starting my own company. No, that doesnt make me "special", because I am learning to do all this myself. What it makes me is less of a "frustrated American coder", because what I love, as an American, is creating, kicking down doors, think around problems, and most of all, writing high quality code that works and works well for my customers. I just got customer number 45 today, and my software is selling and no bug reports yet. One customer wrote me last month and says he loves my product and cant wait till the next one Ive adverstised.

My point with starting this business goes beyond making money or stroking my ego...its about a philosophy of quality, problem-solving, innovation, and proving to myself, that its not my skill as a programmer that matters (Im no less a "code whore" than the rest of the worlds coders) but my belief that my dedication to fulfilling my ideas in a grand way via code that matters. Thats what innovation used to be about here in the US....IT or anything else. I think we have underestimated the world, but more so, undervalued our talents. It used to be about the "talent" in IT, and with offshoring, someone has decided its not. And thats Im kissing corporate America good-bye, then coming around and embracing it with my own company. But this time around, Im going against the grain, and taking no prisoners. Im fed up with how business is run in this country and I hope I survive with my company to influence that....if even a little. I guess thats really what makes Americans great! If thats all thats left, then I'll run with it... :o)
frustraded coder
Monday, December 17, 2007
I hate it that whenever any outsider complains about some
bad US policy bought by the corporations, some uninformed
"USA is number ONE!" types turn up and bury the thread
in nationalistic bullshit. If you think Halliburton is
"on the same side" as you, you're in for a shock.

Also nationalistic "Rah! Rah!" bullshit doesn't explain
innovation in Silicon Valley. That happened because
during the Cold War, money got pumped into R&D, to back
individual geniuses, with a 10 year time limit for
commercialization. This was called "Venture Capital".

This model was dead by the late 90s, when investments
were timetabled for IPO in 3 years, and given to Suits
who valued cheap/obedient labour, risk/cost control
and branding over R&D. Hence the DotCom debacle.

If you really want to do things right, starting out on
your own may be the best way to avoid the Suits.
Object Hater
Monday, December 17, 2007
We are a small two person US company and have gone offshore (Czech Republic) to hire two Windows developers. They are very good at what they do, understand what we are looking to do and cost us about 1/4 of what a US developer would demand.

On the other hand, I have also spent a great deal of time in the Czech Republic and knew these people before hiring them.

I don't even think of it as offshoring anymore... just two of our team happen to be Czech and live in the Czech Republic.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
There's been some errant nonsense in this thread about apparent US virtues ... saving the world ... all that is great and good.

But this quote: "The impression I have is that Americans truly, deeply value entrepreneurialism -- someone can go out and start a business and be an utter disaster, but they will be highly regarded by their fellow citizens" is absolutely true.

Many of us who don't live in the US have both a healthy respect and a healthy cynicism for American qualities and values. But above all, the US does value and prize those who are willing to break from the pack and have a go.

And no, I wouldn't consider moving there again! Can't get a good cigar or a good beer!
Craig Welch Send private email
Sunday, December 23, 2007

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