It's Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., and one of the traditions, along with excessive food consumption and debates about what kind of beer the English pilgrims drank, is the essay or column (or blog, as the pilgrims would've said) based on the theme of gratitude. These columns usually feature the sentence "Here are the things I'm grateful for...."
So, it's an opportune time to reflect on a few things that the nearshore community should be thankful for.
First, the very concept of nearshore outsourcing. Like the pilgrims who fled England and risked sailing across a turbulent ocean, while people on the shore said "Good luck, suckers!," it takes a certain amount of imagination, foresight, and derring-do to plunge ahead with an idea that others dismiss as risky or far-fetched. Without people having the gumption to pursue a dream, IT outsourcing would still be limited to India.
Special thanks for the pioneers and visionaries who believed that IT providers in Latin America could compete with established global providers and staked their money and reputation on it.
And, thankfully, there were clients who saw the benefits of working with a company that was nearby, shared the same time zone, and appreciated the entrepreneurial spirit of nearshore entrepreneurs. As you know, not all potential customers get it.
At the risk of being overly obvious, thanks for the Internet, the great enabler. Anyone ancient enough to have worked with international colleagues before we were wired together knows how long it took to accomplish things when you had to wait 12 to 24 hours to get a response. No need to elaborate.
Server virtualization. Okay, there are dozens of technology developments that have yielded business benefits, but this one lets businesses do so much more with less. Money that would otherwise have been spent on hardware can instead be used to hire more people, pay them better, or attract the most creative ones.
Open source software. Despite a Microsoft Latin America executive's charge that open source software is a sign of "incompetence," the open or free movement has had a big impact in the nearshore region. It has benefited many lean start-ups and others working outside giant corporate umbrellas, as well as young students who will be the software developers of tomorrow. Many government agencies have adopted it, and several South American countries host annual free-software confabs, like FISL 12 in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Security tools. Let's face it: If nearshore IT providers couldn't guarantee the level of data guardianship that corporate executives expect from suppliers, there wouldn't be much outsourcing going on. And considering that North Americans sometimes have a reflexive paranoia or misperceptions regarding anything south of the border, protection of data and IP is no small thing.
And, of course, thanks to everyone who reads this blog.