The tech support industry is a substantial one, and questions surrounding its outsourcing have become an increasingly common topic in recent times. Is outsourcing the ultimate future for most tech support jobs? If so, then why? For more on this hot topic and what the facts say, read on.
For those not completely familiar with the term “outsourcing”, it is a fairly easy business term to understand. To outsource a job means to arrange for that job to be carried out by another company. So, for an employer, Microsoft for example, to outsource its technical support jobs to another company in another country entirely, its technical support workforce then becomes based in that country with that country’s citizens being the employees. A caller to Microsoft seeking technical support help may first call the company’s US-based facility, but because of the outsourcing, it is then routed out of the country to a connection with a technical support worker in that country of the outsource.
Why Outsource Tech Support?
While there are many opponents to the concept of outsourcing, there are some very real advantages that push many companies to go ahead and take the outsourcing leap. In some cases, outsourcing may provide the company with a better call center with a better setup for the job as well as possibly better technology. Financial reasons are also a huge motivator when the alternate workforce may be much cheaper to pay, insure, and so on. Additionally, some companies choose to outsource as it often provides more freedom to scale the size of their business much more responsively to that organization’s needs at any given time.
Disadvantages of Outsourcing
While there are certainly advantages to outsourcing in the technical support industry and elsewhere, there are also some distinct disadvantages to this business model. One of the foremost disadvantages is the premise of loss of direct control over the workers directly in contact with the customer base. Another is the potential to have repeat hire issues with finding the right company, foreign or domestic, for the job. Yet another complication arises when cultural and language differences presented by the outsourced workforce become a barrier to effective business and customer communication.
The Facts on Tech Support Outsourcing Today
Having now covered the general outlines of outsourcing itself, is the practice truly the path forward for the greater tech support industry here in the United States? How prevalent is the practice, and how prevalent will it be in the future?
There are no current studies or science-based facts to suggest the exact numbers or percentage of technical support jobs that are outsourced each year. Many technical support jobs are born each month. Some are outsourced, some are not, and some are even returned to the native employer after having been outsourcing.
In 2012, Investopedia, a well-known and respected online finance journal, produced an article that cut straight to the facts on the matter, and it still holds true at this point, today. In the article, the journal pointed out the most popular outsourced jobs which are in manufacturing, call centers, writing, graphic design, IT, and security. Arguably more importantly, however, the journal goes on to point out the key characteristics of any job that may make it highly susceptible to outsourcing. Whether it be tech support or any other job, if a job requires either very low-skill workers or very high-skill workers, then that job is much more likely to be considered for outsourcing by the employer.
Outsourcing affects many United States industries today, and the technical support industry is no different. It cannot be said at this point, though, that most tech support jobs are being outsourced, as there is no definitive information right now to establish that assertion as factual. Factually, there are many tech support jobs born in the United States every day, and some of those stay occupied by in-house employees, while others are outsourced to workers and companies elsewhere. There are no hard figures to determine the flow of these jobs in either direction at this point.