Of late, there have appeared a number of not-so-subtle signs that India is moving well beyond its traditional role as host for low-level back office and IT work from the West. The only question now seems to be when (not if) we'll see the first U.S. corporation move its headquarters and CEO to the subcontinent. Here's what to watch for:One: An article Tuesday in the International Herald Tribune notes that Cisco has mandated that 20% of its "top talent" be located in India within five years. Cisco also recently moved a top executive, Wim Elfrink, to Bangalore to act as chief globalization officer, the Herald Tribune reports.
Two: Accenture recently said that, by year's end, it will have more employees in India than in the United States, and that its Indian workforce will include well-paid business consultants and industry specialists in addition to the usual programmers and help desk associates.
Three: Last week, global pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline outsourced clinical data management for new drug development to India's Tata Consultancy Services. To fulfill the contract, TCS is building a new data center in Mumbai devoted exclusively to its Glaxo work.
Four: IBM this week said it's expanding a Bangalore research group tasked with helping the company develop autonomic -- or "self healing" -- computer systems. IBM for several years has been pushing the autonomic capabilities of its servers as a key differentiator in a market that is somewhat commoditized. In other words, autonomic research is key to the success of IBM's hardware business -- and much of that research will take place in India as well as the United States.
Five: A recent poll by Syncroness found that a full 83% of the United States companies it surveyed have outsourced some aspect of new product development. Among the top reasons cited, according to Syncroness, were speeding time-to-market of new products and access to new talent pools.
What's the upshot of all this for United States workers? Being a highly skilled, highly specialized professional is no longer a surefire safeguard against losing your job to outsourcing. Global competition is now a fact of life for almost every profession in every industry. Ready to compete?