Consumer confidence faltering in a sputtering economy, jobs continuing to move offshore at rapid pace… is this a time to laugh at outsourcing? Why not? As outsourcing vendors get increasingly sophisticated with their offerings - and corporate America gets increasingly greedy about the cost savings - here are a few glorious changes that we can all look forward to.The McDonald's Drive Thru: You drive up to the soporific speakerphone and struggle to make your order heard. You don't know it, but you are speaking to somebody sitting in Jakarta, Indonesia. McDonald's has outsourced drive-thru order processing, and drive-thru orders across restaurants in the U.S. are now immediately relayed in real-time to the Back-office Indonesia Group of McDonalds Asia Corporation (BIG-MAC for short). There, wan associates in tan uniforms - it's an ungodly hour in Indonesia - take your order and instantly transfer it electronically to the restaurant's serving counter, to be readied for you to pay for and pick up. (There were some snafus during user testing - orders placed in Anchorage, Alaska being served in Fort Lauderdale, Florida - but that's all sorted out now.)
Amtrak: "The Adirondack Express is scheduled to depart from Gate 13 in one hour. Passengers are requested to identify their luggage at counters set up near the gate. The train is expected to depart in a timely manner, currently defined as within six hours of the time printed in the schedule, and arrive in Montreal no more than the usual 12 hours late."
You are mildly struck by the peculiar announcement and strongly Irish accent of the announcer, but hey - it's Amtrak, and this is New York City. As you struggle with your luggage, you do not realize - nor possibly care - that the announcer is sitting in Dublin, Ireland, and is now busy announcing the BART train in San Francisco. Yes, the U.S. Federal Government and state governments have joined together in a cost-cutting measure, and all train announcements across the country are now made from Ireland. Real-time data integration technologies have made it possible for announcers in Dublin to view local train arrivals, departures and schedule changes as they happen, and, together with the redoubtable Irish spirit - and spirits - have made the job a cinch.
Lasik Eye Surgery: You don't see your spouse quite as often these days, and, while that's not necessarily bad, what bothers you is that you don't see anything very well these days. It's time to straighten out your vision with Lasik eye surgery. As you get drowsy on the operating table, with pleasant - although blurred - visions of a future without glasses, you see the sophisticated equipment around you and marvel at the miracles of medical robotics and computer assisted surgery. What you don't know - but which certainly could hurt you - is that the Lasik surgeon is, at this very moment, donning his robe in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, preparing to operate on you using the latest in remote-controlled Lasik machines, which use the same technology that NASA uses in controlling spacecraft sent to Mars. There's no time to pray that the doctor has better success than NASA as you blissfully drift off into deep sleep. In the meanwhile, reports are that Lasik eye surgeons across the United States are contemplating a career change.
Freelance Writing: 3 am, local time. My bed-side telephone rings. I groan, pry my eyelids open and reach out for the phone. It's my editor, calling from Pune, India, where he has been relocated along with the entire editorial staff as a cost-cutting measure (US publications are losing money faster than Barry Bonds hits homers): The publisher and I are being sued by McDonald's, Amtrak and the Lasik Surgeons Society of America. "Don't they get it? It's satire, not real - yet," I shriek. Panic stricken, I try calling my lawyer in Haifa, Israel.
Rajan Chandras is a consultant with a global IT consulting, systems integration and outsourcing firm, and can be reached at [email protected].Consumer confidence faltering in a sputtering economy, jobs continuing to move offshore at rapid pace… is this a time to laugh at outsourcing? Why not? As outsourcing vendors get increasingly sophisticated, and as corporate America gets increasingly greedy about the cost savings, here are a few glorious changes that we can look forward to.