Re: Offshore call centers (related to offshore writers and editors)

Subject: Re: Offshore call centers (related to offshore writers and editors)
From: "Clark F. Morris, Jr." <cfmtech -at- istar -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2003 16:52:51 -0400

guy wrote:
> Here's an article from June, 2001.
> As American as Curry Pie
> BANGALORE, India -- "Hi, this is Betty Coulter and I am
> calling because I have a great deal for you today.
> I am going to offer you a credit card at a low 2.9 percent
> with a whole bunch of free gifts."
> Yeah, yeah, you've heard it all before. You try to get off
> the phone, but Betty just drones on and, amazingly, never
> takes a breath. You try to place the accent. Iowa maybe?
> No, the "a" sound is too flat. California? Maybe it's a
> crowded call center in some business park in Kansas City.
> But Betty is actually calling from Bangalore, and her
> real name is Savita Balasubramanyam. ...
> I recalled seeing an article like this, so I searched Google for:
> "call center" american bangalore
> There are other, similar hits. Bangalore is the technology capitol of
> India.

As a COBOL maintenance programmer-analyst and mainframe systems
programmer (roughly comparable to a Unix systems administrator), I am in
the same position as most technical writers in having skills that can be
outsourced world wide. I actually find that I have more concerns about
call centers (centres) being outsourced to countries other than those of
either my residence (Canada) or citizenship (United States). While
cross border issues arise even within countries, especially the two I am
associated with, I have real concerns about confidential information
being shipped to India. The legal recourses I have are far less.
Actually this is also a problem between the United States and Canada
because the Toronto Canada Globe and Mail has reported that there are a
large number of phone fraud scams being perpetrated from Canada. The
Canadian Television Program W-5 also had a major segment on Canadian
phone and mail operations targeting Britain. I suspect United States
scammers may be equally active cross border. The rule about not giving
personal information to someone you don't know when they call you is a
good one but how do we protect ourselves against problems that arise
when we call a business that we think is in the same country as we are.
I know that I have advised one person here in Canada to review very
carefully the idea of hosting his web site in California because of
Canadian Privacy Law implications. Residents of India might have
similar concerns.

In thinking about this, what is there in the technical writing
profession that requires a fair degree of control of information where
the entity could be severely compromised in an outsourcing situation? I
know that as a maintenance programmer (one who fixes broken programs), I
have had access to confidential data. It is necessary in some cases in
order to see the problem. In other cases it was because there was no
anonymizing software to run when copying all or a subset of production
data for testing purposes. I was either an employee or an on-site
contractor in those circumstances so there were stronger restraints than
if I had been in a third party firm let alone not in the same country.
The real exposure to my mind is between companies and between
jurisdictions where the entity normally does not do business in the
country in which the work is done. Thus Microsoft (or IBM) placing work
in India has less of an added exposure than would a regional retail
chain in Canada. India is or should be a major market for Microsoft and
they should be we aware of the legal system and its protections where a
regional retail chain in the US or Canada would have no exposure.

> --
> Guy K. Haas
> guy -at- hiskeyboard -dot- com | gkhaas -at- usa -dot- net
> Software Exegete in Silicon Valley



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