How to Make Sure Your Business Works Abroad

This article is contributed by Matt M.

So you have your business model and it’s been running smoothly in your home country for some time now. In fact your business has thrived to the extent that you have begun thinking about ways you could expand your company and do more with it, and you’ve begun thinking about moving abroad into other countries. Continue reading

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Immigration or outsourcing

India is a growing powerhouse of technology. Its position in the global economy cannot be ignored. It is interesting to compare how Canada and the US are reacting to this phenomenon.

For Canada, India provides the opportunity for a new era of trade.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will visit Mumbai and Delhi between Nov. 15 and 18 and meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, sources said, a visit that is intended as a turning point. India and Canada are moving to jolt stagnant trade ties, concluding a series of trade-related deals, including opening nuclear commerce and starting the first phase toward a free-trade agreement.

On the other hand, questions are being raised on where US current policy is headed.

If any foreign policy camp best captures mainstream American opinion in 2009, it is probably neo-isolationism: a return to the inwardness of the post-World War I years, when the country refused to join the League of Nations. Even as intellectuals call for cosmopolitanism, more and more Americans are declaring themselves anti-outsourcing, anti-foreign-products, anti-immigration, anti-international-law — and pro-protectionism. According to a February 2009 Gallup poll, nearly half of Americans view foreign trade as a “threat to the economy,” and 65 percent believe the government is spending “too much” on foreign aid.

That explains why Bill Gates was unsuccessful last year in persuading Congress that it should allow US companies to hire more skilled foreign workers by increasing the number of H-1B visas. Without this change in immigration policy, the only solution would be to outsource more technological work to countries such as India.

India to is now asking the US for more H-1B visas.

India is likely to ask the United States to raise the cap on visas for skilled workers at the bilateral trade forum meeting to be held. India may also push for a special mechanism for Indian professionals travelling to the US for short-term assignments arising out of contractual obligations.

Perhaps the mood is now more receptive since a bill now introduced in the U.S. Congress would double the number of immigrant worker visas available each year under the H-1B program.

The Innovation Employment Act, introduced by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, (D-Ariz.), late Thursday, would increase the cap in H-1B visas from 65,000 a year to 130,000 a year. In addition, there would be no cap on H-1B applications for foreign graduate students attending U.S. colleges and studying science, technology and related fields. Currently, there’s a 20,000-a-year cap on visas for graduate students in all fields.

The legislation would increase the H-1B cap to 180,000 in the years 2010 to 2015 if the 130,000 cap is reached the year before.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates had repeated his pitch:

“We provide the world’s best universities … and the students are not allowed to stay and work in the country,” Gates said Wednesday. “The fact is, [other countries’] smartest people want to come here and that’s a huge advantage to us, and in a sense, we’re turning them away.”

Undoubtedly all countries gain by a freer trade in technical abilities. It is not a forced choice between immigration and outsourcing. An appropriate balance is probably optimal.

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Your Lawyer Is In India, So Why Not Your Web Designer?

Your call is important to us. We hear it so often and many times question the sincerity with which a company spouts this line. Customer service in many cases seems to be done at minimum cost. That sometimes means that the customer service function is outsourced, perhaps to India.

That shouldn’t necessarily be a problem. After all, telecommunications and the Internet are shrinking the world. Aren’t we all one global village now? Our similarities are often much stronger than our differences. It shouldn’t be rocket science to make it all work well.

Although it can sometimes work well, in other cases it becomes a nightmare. For just one example, consider the case of Web.com that eventually decided Outsourcing Customer Service Doesn’t Make Business Sense. The case study is worth reading and there are a number of reasons why it did not work out:

The greatest problem we faced with outsourcing our customer service, however, was the cultural clash. More times than not in our business, there’s a communication gap between the support staff and customers; but take that misunderstanding and add to it a cultural gap, and you’ll start to see some serious problems – like we did. In addition to customer frustration, reduced sales and increased cancellations, we witnessed on-going technological gaffes.

Legalwise

If outsourcing a relatively simple function like customer service is risky, why would one think of outsourcing anything more complex. You might think that legal services would be a real challenge for outsourcing. However Legalwise, headquartered in Toronto, is now providing offshore legal services from Mumbai, India. (Note that their website has sound, which you may find objectionable and which can only be avoided by skipping their Flash introduction.) They claim that their experienced lawyers in India can become an extension of your North American legal team for a more efficient legal resource.

Since 1995, numerous law firms of varying sizes in the United States and the United Kingdom have been outsourcing some of their work to lawyers in India. For example in 2001, GE Plastics and GE Consumer Finance began outsourcing some of its legal compliance and research work to India. GE is reported to have saved about $2 million in one year by outsourcing legal work to India. DuPont has been an outspoken advocate of outsourcing a portion of its legal work to India. DuPont is reported to have saved about $8.8 million in legal fees in 2002 alone. Other companies such as Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Sun Microsystems are all said to be outsourcing legal work to India with very significant savings.

If it can work for legal services, then what other functions might be outsourced successfully? Obvious choices would be anything involving mathematics or programming since these follow universal standards that apply around the world. Web designing would seem to be a prime candidate. There are many success stories but not everyone is happy with the result. For example, Aaron Wall, a well-known SEO consultant in looking for Drupal developers made the following statement: We recently had another project outsourced to India and are not likely to go that route again soon, if ever.

Legalwise

That is of real concern to someone else well known in SEO circles by the name of Bob Massa, who opened his own outsourcing company in India in July of last year. Although Aaron Wall’s view is a concern to him, he knows the outsourcing experience can be different and he is intent on changing that perception. He is making the following offer:

We can develop php, .asp and are proficient in drupal, mambo, video applications and we can install and/or modify just about any open source scripts. There is no development job too big or too small. I can have my design people create a new, updated site including logos, banner ads and templates. We are fast and affordable and we will prove it BEFORE you have to pay a dime.

If you know outsourcing would be better but didn’t want to take the chance of being ripped off, then just send me an email or call my people on live chat. Let us show you what we can do for you and only AFTER we prove you can trust us to do what we say we will do, will we expect you to pay us.

That would seem to be quite an offer. Provided the Techndu design team have the necessary skills, it would seem to be an offer that is difficult to refuse. Even in working with North American web designers, it is important to develop a strong team relationship and be assured that the web design will be done with flair, competency and according to applicable standards. Web designing is very complex and often requires a number of repetitions to get it right. I know many in North America who have not been happy with their onshore web designer experience. I suggest it is worth approaching this whole subject with an open mind. If you decide outsourcing is for you, you could be one of the real success stories.

Related: Choosing The Right Business Website Designer – The Bottom Line

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Babel Media Dubs Montreal A World Game Hub

Babel Media

Babel Media announced a major investment in Montreal this week. Their Montreal office will take on 200 new people providing game services here in Montreal. This almost doubles the size of the company, rivalling as it does, the Babel Media Ltd. head office in Brighton, England. The company has seen astonishing growth in its six year history because it leverages a number of IT industry realities.

The Babel Media Ltd. website describes the phenomenon.

Founded in 1999, Babel is one of the major drivers behind the growth of outsourcing in the games and interactive entertainment industries. Our multi-platform services include localisation, QA, porting, certification and marketing services. We employ more than 200 full-time and freelance personnel with offices in Brighton, Los Angeles and New Delhi. Babel is a registered Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo developer. Babel has been recognised by the Sunday Times as one of the fastest growing technology companies in the UK and we are one of the country’s largest new media agencies. 

Ben Wibberley, executive vice-president for Babel Media in North America, goes into more details* on why Babel Media is becoming a partner with so many of the industry greats.

Ben Wibberley

Babel can handle all of the functionality and localization QA, the work which a lot of the time prevents the internal QA department from carrying out their core function, which is of focusing on the gameplay of the title. Babel acts as the publisher?s internal QA department, gaining them significant cost savings from not having to employ large QA groups without a loss of quality.

Local knowledge is key to working in any territory. (However there are) benefits of using our Indian operation. As an industry we need to look at the idea of three zone production and not just in terms of cost savings available.

Babel Media can be summed up in two words “International Quality”: this is an ethos which runs through the company and all of our services.

That sounds like a slogan for Montreal too. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship. Babel Media joins the game developer industry in Montreal, which already employs some 2000 people. Anyone wanting to join Babel Media can send their CVs to jobs.montreal@babelmedia.com

* extracts from a longer article in GIGnews.com in January 2004.

Related Books:
For information on interesting Montreal places to visit, see
Frommer’s Montreal & Quebec City 2009 Guide (Frommer’s Complete)
or
Montreal & Quebec City For Dummies (Dummies Travel)

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