After the introductions the MDI students put on a skit to demonstrate some of the challenges that occur in a BPO/IT outsourcing situation between India and the U.S. They identified three common misconceptions they believe people in the U.S. have in regard to outsourcing with India. The three misconceptions they identified were exactly what I initially thought they'd be. They brought up the point that our business managers have concerns that they will not get top quality people working on their projects in India. I believe this concern comes from the fact that most people in the U.S. don't understand how competitive the Indian education system is, especially in terms of IT, Indian students are on par with the skill level of students in the U.S. Another important concern is the fact that outsourcing to India is taking away American jobs. The truth of the matter is that if this work was forced to be done in the U.S. it would be so expensive a lot of firms just wouldn't do as much of it, that inhibits growth. By outsourcing, U.S. firms can take advantages of cost savings and use that freed up capital to re-invest in the company and grow, that will create more jobs in the U.S. The third concern is security. Managers in the U.S. are sometimes concerned about handing over large amounts of sensitive data to outsourcing firms, they are also concerned the BPO firms may divulge information regarding what they are working on to competitors. Security is a big priority to Indian BPO firms, without it, they would lose credibility would not be able to succeed as a business, because of this, security is just as important to the vendor as it is to the client.
After the skit, we had the opportunity to discuss these issues along with other issues including political pressure from U.S. politicians to pass legislation limiting the amount of work that can be sent overseas. This is a tactic politicians use as short term campaign promises to get votes without educating people about the long term benefits of taking on a BPO partner. Overall I felt the MDI students had a very good understanding of both Indian and American economics. The MDI students even had a good debate amongst themselves as to what the role of the U.S. government should be in the time of a recession. I was extremely impressed by how well they were able to see the situation from both sides of the fence, it was a very interesting and informative conversation and I left the lecture hall with a high degree of respect for these students.
After the lecture we spent some time with the students, they took us to a little coffee shop they had on campus, we were able to see some of the campus, which was very similar to what you'd expect to find at a small university in the U.S. I was able to talk with one of the students as we walked and drank our coffee. He actually had an undergraduate background in finance, so we had that in common. We discussed the economic future of both of our countries, but we also talked about our hobbies, sports we enjoy watching and playing, and other everyday things. This was a very enjoyable experience, I wish we could have spent more time with the students, but we had a plane to catch that night.