Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I saw the most frightening thing yesterday. Well, the most frightening thing for an IT person that doesn't involve zombies.
On my way home I dragged myself to the sixth floor of a building a little south of downtown to talk to some people about a new venture they are starting. Here is their master plan for global domination:

1. Hire extremely competent technical resources who specialize in customer-facing engagements.
2. Get these people to design and manage a transition from locally managed IT systems at client sites to a central data center here in Texas.
3. Once the migration is complete and the bugs worked out, migrate these systems again to a data center in India to be managed there.
4. Repeat with other companies.

None of this is scary or surprising. Lots of companies do this, varying only in the level of competence of their technical staff and the size of the target corporation. And some outsourcing goes to starving Eastern European countries.
The scary part was the video of the training facility where they are cranking out the future help desk personnel. The video quality was not great, but the on-site training seemed to be going on in some kind of warehouse in Vishakhapatnum (a lovely coastal city) with a group of locals being trained by suit-wearing guys that looked like they worked for some kind of Top Secret government agency.
The locals were not being trained in IT stuff, from the footage I saw. They were also not being trained in procedure or escalation methodology.
They were being trained in reading scripted responses. Phonetically.
So they don't speak English at all. The training class is going through an interpreter. But when it is complete, the "support technician" can talk a user through a typical computer issue, having gotten the call through a computer screener (press one for . . . ) and pass themselves off as "Steve" from Atlanta or "Jane" from Boston or "Jim" from Northern California complete with very convincing regional accents.
These people won't be personally taking my job anytime soon, or the job of anyone I know. However, it is the start of a "total replacement" mindset which will end up with the whole industry at risk. What won't be outsourced to the phonetic help desk can be managed by computer. A Visio design wizard application can lay out an Active Directory environment, given sufficient parameters and a fast enough CPU. As soon as the phonetic help desk guy knows what to ask (the same is true of the computer) high-level IT consulting becomes an extravagance for most companies just interested in getting the job done.
My main selling point in interviews has always been that I'm better with people than with computers (as much as I completely hate both of them). You can find technical people who can do the job or simulate them using dialect coaches and scripts, but there will always need to be some kind of personal interaction with the people who have a stake in the technologies at risk.
Establishing trust happens best with on-site work, not ignore-the-tech-behind-the-curtain shell games.
In the end, I told them half a dozen things I could do to make their plan work more smoothly and efficiently, then deliberately priced myself out of the job. I'm sure they will be able to find someone to do it, but it won't be me. It defines the difference between "mercenary" and the other word I'd like to think is less accurate in my case.

Romeo and Juliet
Act 1, Scene 4

0, +h3n, ! 533 Qu33n M@b h@+h b33n w!+h y0u.
$h3 !s +h3 f@!r!35' m!dw!f3, @nd 5h3 c0m35
!n 5h@p3 n0 b!gg3r +h@n @n @g@+3-5+0n3
0n +h3 f0r3-f!ng3r 0f @n @ld3rm@n,
Dr@wn w!+h @ t3@m 0f l!++l3 @t0m!3$
A+hw@r+ m3n'5 n0$e$ @s th3y l!3 @sl33p;
H3r w@g0n-sp0k3s m@d3 0f l0ng sp!d3r5' l3g5,
Th3 c0v3r 0f teh w!ng5 0f gr@$5h0pp3r$,
Teh tr@c3s 0f teh sm@ll3$t sp!d3r's w3b,
T3h coll@r5 0f teh m0Onsh!n3's w@+3ry b3am$,
H3r wh!p 0f cr!ck3t's b0n3, teh l@sh 0f f!lm,
H3r w@g0n3r @ sm@ll gr3y-c0a+3d gn@,
N0t s0 b!g @s @ r0uNd l!t+l3 w0rM
Pr!cK'd fr0m teh l@zy f!ng3r 0f @ m@!d;
H3r ch@r!o+ !s @n 3mp+y h@z3l-nu+
M@d3 bY t3h jo!n3r squ!rr3l 0r 0lD grUb,
T!m3 0ut 0' m!nD teh f@!r!es' c0aChMaK3rs.
@nd !n th!s $t@t3 sh3 g@ll0ps n!ght by n!gh+
Thr0u6h l0v3rs' br@!ns, @nd th3n th3y dr3aM 0f l0\/e;
O'3r c0ur+i3rs' kn33s, th@t dr3@m 0n c0uRt's!3s str@!gh+,
O'3r l@wYer5' f!ng3rs, wh0 s+r@igHt dr3aM oN f33s,
O'3r l@d!es ' l!p$, wh0 str@!ght 0n k!ss3s dr3aM,
Wh!c|-| oF+ teh @|\|gry M@b w!th bl!5t3rs pl@gU3s,
B3c@u53 th3!r br3a+hs w!+h sw33tm3a+s t@in+ed @r3:
Som3t!m3 sh3 g@ll0ps o'3r @ c0uRt!er's n05e,
@Nd th3n dr3am5 h3 0f sm3ll!ng 0u+ @ su!t;
@nd s0m3t!me com3s sh3 w1th @ t!th3-p!g's t@!l
T!cKl!ng @ p@rs0n'$ no$e @5 @' l1es @sl33p,
Th3n dr3aMs, h3 0f @n0th3r b3n3f!c3:
S0m3t!me sh3 dr!ve+h 0'3r @ s0lDi3r's n3cK,
@nd th3n dr3aMs h3 0f cu+t!ng f0r3!gn thr0a+s,
0f br3ach3s, amBu$c@do3s, Sp@n!sh bl@d3s,
0f h3al+hs f!v3-f@th0m d33p; @nd th3n @n0n
DRuM5 !n h!s 3@r, @ wh!ch h3 st@r+s @nd w@k3s,
@nd b3ig t|-|u5 fr!gh+3d 5w3ar$ @ pr@y3r 0r +w0
@nd sl33ps ag@!n. Th!s 1s th@t v3ry M@b
Th@t pl@t5 teh m@nes 0f h0r5e5 !n teh n!gHt,
@nd b@k3s t3h 3lfl0cKs !n f0uL slu++!sh h@iRs,
Wh!ch 0nC3 unTan6led, muCh m!sf0rtune b0d3s:
Th1s !s teh h@g, wh3n m@id5 l!e 0n th31r b@cKs,
Th@t pr3ss3s th3m @nd l3arn5 th3m f1r5t t0 b3aR,
Mak1ng th3m wom3n 0f g0Od c@rr!a6e:
Th1s 1$ 5h3--
R0M30 P3ac3, p3ac3, M3rcu+10, p3ac3!
Th0u t@lk'5t 0f n0+h1ng.

There we go. Proof that I am a romantic at <3.


Anonymous said...

I read all 297 strips of Order of the Stick today at work. Good times ...

Darrell Davis said...

The Sad thing is that zombies have more compassion than industry financial consultants. Zombies only want to eat your brains, the industry wants your family and belongings as well.

Garrick said...

All 297 strips, eh?
Rich Burlew will be pleased.

Darrell: I now have a link to your blog. Expect visits. w00+!

Anonymous said...

And more blogs, please. Two a day? They are the only thing keeping me sane, knowing that other people suffer as I am suffering.

And now, my own translation of an excerpt from Tennyson's Ulysses:

Oughthay uchmay isway akentay, uchmay abidesway; andway oughthay eway areway otnay ownay atthay engthstray ichwhay inway oldway aysday ovedmay earthway andway eavenhay; atthay ichwhay eway
areway, eway areway; oneway equalway empertay ofway eroichay eartshay, ademay eakway ybay imetay andway atefay, utbay ongstray inway illway. Otay ivestray, otay eeksay, otay indfay, andway otnay otay ieldyay.

Not as elegant as yours but still evillllly delicious.

Garrick said...

"Otay ivestray, otay eeksay, otay indfay, andway otnay otay ieldyay" indeed my anonymous friend. "Otay ivestray, otay eeksay, otay indfay, andway otnay otay ieldyay." Truer words were never butchered.
I'll try to step it up. It is kind of hard to post from inside this dorky people aquarium.