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keep it in the hemisphere

If people are going to move things offshore , why dont they keep it in the hemisphere instead of going to india ?

1. Its in the same time Zone.
2. Its how many hour flight to costa rica, not many , not more than la to ny time. OR is it.
3. There's bandwitsh http://www.nwncable.com/news_events/detalle_news.asp?Id_Noticia=51

4. If the talent isnt there , I would move to costa rica before india easy.

c
Thursday, May 08, 2003

All these things are continually under consideration, but a decade ago when the migration of work to India began in a big way, the countries of central and south america were technically backward. If they can catch up in terms of infrastructure and technical ability, they will be the next wave.

One of the primary considerations, however, is the language barrier. American companies primarily need English speaking contractors. Spanish and Portugese won't make the cut. If the language barrier hadn't been such a big roadblock, then much of the business that was shunted to India in the 90s would have been sent to Russia and other former Soviet block countries where technical talent was equally good.

old-timer
Thursday, May 08, 2003

You've hit on a great point here. There is talk  of China and eastern europe being the next india. It will never happen. Indians aren't smarter or more clever or have better potential than americans at programming, but...

1. English is their national language. Wow. Not only do they communicate with us effortlessly but they THINK like us more than a Chinese person does because the language you speak influences the way your brain is wired up, more so than culture. Educated English-speaking Indians share our values as a culture. Chinese do not. Chinese think differently. That's a serious disadvantage when laying out a UI.

2. Many of the people get a decent education and know math. Their schools aren't better or worse than ours but they do have discipline and don't let bullies or administrators rule the teachers, nor do they let politicians control the curriculum for PC correctness.

3. They are poor and so don't have TVs or video games in their houses. Thus, the children entertain themselves by doing well in school, talking with others and playing sports, unlike fat lazy american children glued in front of the box.

So, Indians and Americans speak the same language and have similar potential. But in India the potential of the children is not wasted.

Now lets look at Eastern Europe. Some smaart people there, yes, and decent schools. But also drug problems as bad as East LA. And plenty of cell phones and TVs. And English is not the national language. These are all disadvantages, so even though they have some great programmers, they simply can't compete with India's squeaky clean wholesomeness.

Great programmers in general didn't watch a lot of TV as kids and don't do drugs. THese things detract from the potential for doing great work.

X. J. Scott
Thursday, May 08, 2003

Oh I forgot my point - English is the national language of the Phillipines too along with Spanish and Tagalog, so there is the potential there for the Phillipines to be the next India. There you have my prediction.

X. J. Scott
Thursday, May 08, 2003

Dear X.J. Scott,
                        What India are you talking about.

----"English  is the national language"?----

                        There is considerable debate about the number of native English speakers in India but the most optimisitic figure I have seen is 10 million out of a population of 1,000 million or 1%.

                          English is the second language of a much larger number of people, and the language of instruction, but bear in mind that 50% of the population of India is illiterate, and that the quality of English, even among English teachers, varies wildly.

                            If you want to choose a country where English is the lingua franca of swathes of the population then choose Malayasia, which is composed of 50% Chinese and 50% Malay. Yet despite the population's excellent command of English it imports most of its IT staff from India.

----"because the language you speak influences the way your brain is wired up" ------

This is called the Sapir-Worf hypothesis (in fact Worf, a complete unknown, tagged Sapir's name on to it to give it some kind of spurious respectabilty). It ranks with Lamarkism, Mesmerism. the Ether and the Movement of the Spheres.


----"Many of the people get a decent education and know math. Their schools aren't better or worse than ours but they do have discipline and don't let bullies or administrators rule the teachers, nor do they let politicians control the curriculum for PC correctness."------

Half of the school age population in India doesn't go to school at all. Outside of large cities the schools are atrocious, normally with no books or furntiture, and often with no teachers.

----"hey are poor and so don't have TVs or video games in their houses. Thus, the children entertain themselves by doing well in school, talking with others and playing sports, unlike fat lazy american children glued in front of the box."-------

TV's are the one thing you see everywhere in India. If there's no electricity you'll run a black and white TV off a car battery. And the children too poor to have access to a TV will spend their time working in the fields or in factories. And if there's no TV, then there's the cinema.

----" they simply can't compete with India's squeaky clean wholesomeness."----

This is surreal! You are talking about one of the most corrupt countries in the world, where 90+% of the population stated in a recent survey by Transparency International that they didn't trust the police not to steal from them, where you start on the political ladder by murdering half-a-dozen of your opponents, where child slavery, forced prostition and bonded labour is widespread, where the party in power campaigns on a platform of oppressing or expelling 15% of the population.


----"there is the potential there for the Phillipines to be the next India."-----

Yes, but it'll probably strike lucky instead.


India has a large number of programmers because programming does not require much if any equipment, and because the alternatives are bleak. Also the Indian government has since the times of the Raj made the British mistake of educating the elite at the expense of the masses, so you get the paradox of a country that exports doctors in huge numbers, and still manages to have more doctors than nurses. There is also the fact that whereas the Chinese diaspora devotes itlself to trade, as does the Syrian and Lebanese diaspora, a significant part of the Indian diaspora, particulary the Tamils, has devoted itself to teaching or government service.

There are limitations. Firstly the lack of infrastructure - you will find that China has 160 million internet subscribers, whereas the total number of fixed line telephones in India in 2001 was 32 million. There is a massive increase in the number of cellphones but the providers are all making massive losses in an attempt to get market share so the rate of increase is not sustainable.

China has much better infrastructure and a much greater rate of economic growth, but is hndered by the fact that its education system, and government do the best they can to stifle individual thought.

Eastern Europe, and the USSR in particular, probably suffer from the lack of a entreprenerial culture rather than a lack of programming capability. In general the standard of English among their programmers appears to be higher than among equivalent Western Europeans, who have no problems in handling their own IT infrastructure.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 08, 2003

Don't forget the fact that Indians were the first H1Bs and IT guest workers, back in the early 90's. These guys came over here, learned US technology and business practices, and then took that knowledge home with them. Some of the larger Indian shops state explicitly that they owe their current success to the fact that their IT industry was seeded with veterans of US based work.


I think cultural and language similarities are important, too. English is an irregular hodge podge of widely differing pronunciation rules, spelling, and grammar rules, compared to the almost mechanistic regularity of Spanish, for instance. English "just has" to be one of the harder languages on earth to learn as a second language.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, May 08, 2003

Difficulties in learning a foreign language are often (Lado would say always) related to how different it is to the mother tongue.

So English is pretty difficult for a Chinese guy or an Arab, but not at all difficult for a German.

Difficulties also occur at different stages. English is not at all difficult to say a few simple things in, but the lack of grammaticalization makes it very difficult at more advanced levels. Other, more structured languages, present more initial difficulties, but have less pitfalls later on.

Also, if a language is too close to yours, there is the tendency never to master it completely. You carry over phrases and constructions from your own language without realizing.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, May 08, 2003

If we're going to discuss Indian software companies, bear in mind that the Indian government has given that sector massive support, investment and tax breaks since about 1990, deliberately seeking for that sector to expand and attract international business.

During the early 1990's, they enjoyed only limited success. Their big break came with the rorting of immigration visas starting around 1997, which had its genesis in the fraudulent claims of skill shortages by bodies like the ITAA.

Even now, many people consider the Indian offshoring model would not work without the large scale transferring of Indian staff into American and other sites, using visa processes outside the intent of those processes.


Thursday, May 08, 2003

Hi.

I feel quite offended by a post I found here.

> You've hit on a great point here.
> There is talk of China and eastern
> europe being the next india. It will
> never happen.

I live in Romania, Eastern Europe.

> 1. English is their national language.
> Wow. Not only do they communicate
> with us effortlessly but they THINK like
> us more than a Chinese person does

This is very strange. I don't belive English is the national language in India.

In Romania, 90% of the young people (even those that only have high-school) know English.

Most are not fluent in it, but the people who go to the university, are almost all fluent in English!


> 2. Many of the people get a decent
> education and know math. Their schools
> aren't better or worse than ours but they
> do have discipline and don't let bullies
> or administrators rule the teachers, nor
> do they let politicians control the
> curriculum for PC correctness.

This is also the situation in the entire Eastern Europe and Russia. Strong schooling, lots of maths starting even in high school.

In high school we learn trigonometry, linear algebra, etc.


> Now lets look at Eastern Europe.

Yes, let's look at it. I live here, in Romania, Eastern Europe!


> Some smaart people there, yes,
> and decent schools. But also drug
> problems as bad as East LA.

I have NO IDEA what are you talking about. I've been trough university and had lots of friends, and I have NEVER known or met anybody who did drugs.


> And plenty of cell phones and TVs. And English
> is not the national language. These are all
> disadvantages

This is very ironic, because you, my good sir, have got it exactly backwards.

Most of the Eastern Europe countries (Romania and Hungary included) have been heavily influenced, in their history, by the western culture coming from Germany, France, and England.

For example if you go to the city of Brasov, in Romania, you will find many people of German origin, who even now speak German. Also, lots of inscriptions on the streets and buildings are in German language.

It is the indians who have a very different culture, compared to the western one.

The culture of Romania, Hungary, and other countries in the region is VERY CLOSE to the US, English and German culture!

Remember, those Eastern Europe countries didn't want communism.

The communism was brought to us by russian force, and most of the people in Eastern Europe HATED communism with all their hearts, but could not raise against it because of soviet troops.


> Great programmers in general didn't watch
> a lot of TV as kids and don't do drugs. THese
> things detract from the potential for doing great
> work.

This is true.

For your information, Eastern Europe programmers usually work on smaller projects than the Indian programmers, but these projects are more creative.

Got a math-heavy problem, and must solve it quickly?

Get someone from Eastern Europe, not someone from India, because I belive that the chances of solving it well are much higher using EE talent, than Indian talent!

George M.
Thursday, May 08, 2003

Stephen,

Basically agree with you. Yeah the real official language in India is Hindi and yet not everyone speaks it, most people in rural areas speak whatever their tribal language is. And their is a sort of bipolar mood about the fact that english is the defacto national language - they don't want to admit it of course due to issues of cultural pride. But technical education is in English so they had to learn it somewhere. Head over to Pakistan which used to be part of India and not only does everyone speak English but the newspapers are in english. Back to India, LOTS of indian web sites out there! All in english!! Hm, where's  the link to 'view this page in Hindi'... ah, I don't find that link on most Indian web sites... so that suggests something to me...

I've spent time in Malaysia and oddly don't remember many people speaking english there... though this was 20 years ago, maybe they all switched since then...

George,

Hey, I agree with you you can find decent programmers in eastern europe. Yet most of the tech H1Bs seem to be from India. Recent Eastern European immigrants I know are actually working in the fields with the South American immigrants. I've talked with these guys using pidgin english and many of them are former engineers and teachers -- but they don't speak much english, so they do field work here.

I don't agree with you on creativity. No doubt eastern europeans are creative, but Indians are too.  Indians highly value creativity and I probably know more Indian artists than I know American artists.

X. J. Scott
Thursday, May 08, 2003

Which hemisphere are we talking about here?

Southern hemisphere resident.
Friday, May 09, 2003

Dear XJ,
                Hindi is the first language throughout most of North India. However it is an Indo-Aryan language like English or Russian, and South Indian languages are Dravidian.  There is no dominant language in the South of India, so South Indians defend English because they prefer it to HIndi. The spread of Hindi films is lessening the tension a little.

              With regard to Malayasia my contacts came through having to cold-call Malayasian doctors, dentists and artists to sell them finance. The secretaries and the professionals all spoke English. This was in contrast to Hong Kong where less English was spoken than in Barcelona where I was phoning from.

-----"Head over to Pakistan which used to be part of India and not only does everyone speak English but the newspapers are in english"-------

Couldn't be more wrong! I work in a Saudi technical college and one of my responsibilities is to screen resumes from applicants for English Lecturer position. 2-3% of the applications come from Pakistan and it is not uncommon to find fifty grammatical mistakes on a one page cover letter. And these applications are from tenured lecturers and professors in English at the universities and teacher training colleges. About 10% of the applications come from Indians, and despite the flowery introductions most of them are perfectly presentable.


---"Back to India, LOTS of indian web sites out there! All in english!! Hm, where's  the link to 'view this page in Hindi'... ah, I don't find that link on most Indian web sites... so that suggests something to me..."----

Yea, but it suggests the wrong thing. One of the main reason that "Indian" web sites (and I use the inverted commas because a significant proportion of them belong to Indians in the UK the US or the Gulf) are in English and rarely Hindi, and that Japanese web sites are in Japanese, and Chinese, Hong Kong and Taiwanese web sites are in Chinese is because of the backwardness of India, not it's being advanced. It is only the English educated elite and the tens of millions of Indians living abroad who can afford to connect to the internet. Half of the population can't even read in any language, there are only about 5 phones per 100 people, and  vast swathes of the population have only ever seen a computer in a movie, let alone have regular access to one connected to the Internet.

George:
              I have never been to Romania but my brother is married to a Romanian and his ex-wife is Romanian so I know dozens of Romanians who either live in England or have contacts there, and iI can assure you that your figure of 90% of youngsters knowing Engish is BS, unless the ones that come over to England are nearly all from the other 10%. I don't know about the universities but doubt if the level of fluency is as high as that in Germany or Holland, let alone the Scandinavian courtries.

              The question of culture that XJ Scott brought up is a canard. Indian unversities are as "western" as any others, even if that phrase has any meaning.

              Now if you mean that Romania has a small number of higly talented and knowledgeable software developers, then I would agree with you. And for a small development requiring hardcore math skills then Eastern Europe would be the place to look, though as you would be hiring off the internet for something like that the geogaphical location would be somewhat irrelevant.

                Where Romania does resemble India however is in pervasive corruption, and the attitude that the foreigner is there to be ripped off. This won't seriously affect software development but it is the main block to any kind of sustained development, and will mean that the Romanian software developer, like the Indian software developer will not have an internal market for his expertise.

                And to sign off if communication in English is a priority I would suggest one choose the Romanian rather than the Indian. You're more likely to find you've not been understood at the beginninf of the project than at the end.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 09, 2003

There is a much more subtle language problem: as we are discovering by experience.

My other half runs projects which are farmed out across the world. He hasn't met most of the actual staff, and they live in different timezones.

This leads to some extremely subtle communications issues. Firstly, although they all speak English, it is a second language to them. With the time differences, all the communications happen over email/messaging/WIKI etc. In other words all their communications is written second-language text.

Think about the cultural differences between Brits and Americans, and how that affects email conversations. Subtleties get lost in just that translation, there's no body language, no intonation... then think about how well you pick up meanings in your second language compared to how well you can in your first even if you're there in person.

All these things colour the communications - its very hard to tell if the other end of the link is lying in some way. It takes a long time to build up trust, and a long time to establish the open-ness where someone can just say "look today is not a good day to discuss this" because people won't say that, although if you're in the room with them it's obvious.

He's mentioned in the past that he's taken quite a while to work out that one of his developers can actually do the work; the apparent lack of ability is really a lack of self-confidence. He'd set him off doing things and he'd provarocate and it took a while to find out it wasn't that he couldn't do it. He just thinks he can't. The guy just needs a bit of hand-holding until his opinion of his ability matches his ability is all.

Face-to-face and in everyone's first language, those things are a lot easier to work out. You can tell who needs smaller goals and who needs larger goals and how to run someone.

I think this is going to be a crunch issue for the outsourcing. We're already finding that simply writing a spec and dumping it at the overseas developers doesn't work in exactly the same way as BigDesignUpFront doesn't work in the same country only more so.

Now it turns out that moving the overseas link down the management chain solves that but has these communication issues.

I don't doubt it can be made to work. I just doubt that overseas distributed functioning teams are any more likely or any less expensive than local functioning teams - I just think companies don't quite get it yet that their cost problems come from not having the functional teams.

Katie Lucas
Friday, May 09, 2003

Even when I travelled in the region, talked directly with the people who were doing the job there was always the head nodding insecurity as to whether they got what I said and whether I understood what they were expecting me to understand.

As for same hemisphere...  since when was there one time zone in either hemisphere?

Mandarin speakers seem not to have much difficulty in using English, the word order and grammatical constructions are similar they're both very flexible because they are both lingua franca. 

As or India and how its generated a reasonably large computerr science base.  Traditionally mathematics has been a well taught subject there and there may be a higher aptitude for some reason, certainly the number of higher mathematicians, physicists and so on that were educated on the sub continent appears to be quite high. 

That may just be a function of having a billion people around though, 1% of a billion (even the shortchanged american billion), is still a lot of people.

Simon Lucy
Friday, May 09, 2003

I live in Romania, Eastern Europe.

In the Bucharest, Brasov and Sibiu cities there are a lot of software companies.

Most are not as big as the companies in India, but I worked at some of them, and there were good programmers there. 99% of the employed programmers spoke English.

I had a lot of choice about where to get employed at.

About 6-10 years ago, all of these companies did software development for other companies in Western Europe and USA.

Now, most of them understood that it's more profitable to build solutions and applications, and them to sell them in USA / Western Europe and also in the Eastern Europe.

So, many companies have two activities: custom software development, and also product development.

One company even builds stuff like CRM and ERP solutions.

There is also a gaming company called UbiSoft (http://www.ubi.com/) which makes a lot of good games.

The two companies I worked at are rather small, but they do good jobs. They are:

http://www.algoritma.ro/

http://www.devstar-soft.com/

George M.
Friday, May 09, 2003

Let's talk about Singapore

a tiny country with 4 million inhabitants (including 1 million foreigner), english as the official language (although chinese is spoken in the wet market), just signed Free Trade Agreeement with US this week.

Very IT literate, ambitious, etc

none
Friday, May 09, 2003

Singapore also has an exceptionally high standard of living, which means that people don't need to become programmers.

The main reason for the large supply of Indian IT professionals is poverty, or the fear of it.

Anyway a high standard of education and public services does not automatically transform a country into a high income country. The tow parts of South Asia with the highest level of education and public services in general are Kerala in India, and Sri Lanka, and the main money earner in the former is the export of unskilled and sem-skilled labour and of the latter the export of domestic help.

Stephen Jones
Friday, May 09, 2003

There are said to be some cost-savings associated with outsourcing to Canada, with fewer risks than there are associated with outsourcing it further than that. For example http://www.compuware.com/services/1392_ENG_HTML.htm

Christopher Wells
Friday, May 09, 2003

George,

You make a great point about products vs contracting -- there's more cash to be made in products than in contracting and products are way harder. I do have several programs (DSP plugins) that I have purchased from eastern european sole proprietors and they are quite good.

I did not realize UbiSoft was in Romania -- I have their Myst Exile and I am almost positive all development was done in the US.

X. J. Scott
Friday, May 09, 2003

none,

Yes! Singapore fits. I would say they are not up and coming but have long been already there.

They are doing great producing boards and chips -- though they cleverly outsource much of their design work to the US, like Japan does. I am sure they could do software if they wanted to, it's just that there's more money to be made in hardware since it can't be pirated.

X. J. Scott
Friday, May 09, 2003

"I did not realize UbiSoft was in Romania" - Probably because it isn't. A quick Google reveals that the founders are French, and the company has branches throughout Western Europe and the US, but not one mention of Romania. (Which doesn't preclude the possibility that someone in Romania worked on a project for them, of course.)

Whoever mentioned the lack of entrepreneurial spirit in Eastern Europe as one of the probable causes of its reticence in the offshore programming market hit it right on the nose. 40+ years of communism taught two generations that it is a virtue to steal from the government, and that initiative is never rewarded.  It'll take more than a paltry decade or so to change those attitudes. (That, and folks still need to train their marketing-hype sensors. America didn't get this savvy -some would say cynical- about consumerism overnight. The old lady who still wears her peasant skirts with the 12 underskirts doesn't know that just because she saw it in print doesn't mean it's true.)

Martha
Friday, May 09, 2003

"I am sure they could do software if they wanted to, it's just that there's more money to be made in hardware since it can't be pirated."

I think they do hardware simply because they've been doing it a long time and they're good at it, not because of piracy considerations.

Singapore will not be big on the software outsourcing map anytime soon, because they are just too expensive.  If anything, they probably outsource their own software projects to cheaper countries more often than they accept projects from places like the US.

T. Norman
Friday, May 09, 2003

"Educated English-speaking Indians share our values as a culture. "

oh yeah. You haven't been to India, have you?

Regarding Russia and Eastern Europe, I still believe the best programmers in the world live there (one example that I stumbled upon today is Elcomsoft - the guys who broke Adobe's imbecile e-book format - they specialise in tools to retrieve passwords, and are rather good at that).

Now, regarding why India, the answer is quite obvious. Coding is something that can be done anywhere, with relatively little infrastructure; english is wildly used in India; they are one big country, so a company there will have plenty of good programmers to choose from. I actually think that this is one of the most important reasons.

Note however that this also applies to Russia. The difference however is that while India has been "free" for a lot of time, Russia has joined the rest of the world in the beginning of the 90's, and then took some time to adjust. And India became a popular place for programming exactly during that period.

In the future we will probably see a lot more activity in these other regions as well. I have worked myself with a company that had hired two russian programmers, and it went very well (and they where really fun, a welcome break from the people I usually have to spend my time with). And a lot of companies - specially european - set development shops in various easter european countries (UbiSoft, among others, and they do have one in Romania, I had a student who had worked there).

So probably the american companies will continue to work with India while the europeans will go for Eastern Europe. Which would be great, Europe needs some fresh intelect in programming.

And btw, Eastern Europe is (almost) in the same time zone as Europe.

Dimitri.
Friday, May 09, 2003

Just to clarify the "english is wildly used there" versus "this also applies to Russia". Well, of course, not. But still, in most of Eastern Europe, english is becoming very usual for the younger educated people, and even more so for people in the programming field.

Dimitri.
Friday, May 09, 2003

UbiSoft IS in Romania. I have a friend who works there.

They have a nice building and employ a lot of programmers and artists.

They probably have other locations where they do programming, too, but one of the main locations is in Romania, where they work on many games.

The reason they don't advertise this a lot is because Romania is not a huge market for their games - they only do development here.

If you want to talk to the people from UbiSoft, Romania, write me an e-mail, and I'll give you a phone number and address.

George M.
Saturday, May 10, 2003

George,

I believe you,

http://www.google.com/search?q=UbiSoft+Romania

...has about 1800 hits.

I still think Myst Exile was made in the US though -- sounds like the Romanian office is a field office and not the headquarters, correct?

X. J. Scott
Sunday, May 11, 2003

Scott, games don't work like application software, they work more like movies. Games frequently are developed by a company that's different from the publisher whose name is printed in big letters on the box.

UbiSoft is based in France but operates as an international publisher. One of the games they published was (or may have been, I don't really know) the US-developed Myst game you named.  But they also have some internal development studios, like most game publishers.

Chris Nahr
Sunday, May 11, 2003

Scott, the HQ of UbiSoft is not in Romania.

However, this doesn't change the fact that many games are developed here in Romania.

George M.
Sunday, May 11, 2003

Well check out this link for details on what factors have led to the outsourcing of work to India.

    http://www.nasscom.org/artdisplay.asp?cat_id=28 


NASSCOM has played a major part in projecting India as the most preferred outsourcing destination for Business houses abroad.

Also, now the trend is more towards opening ODCs in India than just outsourcing the work. That speaks for the advantages India offers. 

Shailesh N.
Monday, May 12, 2003

I sure hope NASSCOM isn't hoping to get any web design work sent to India. It's web page sucks big time, even for an Indian site, and doesn't even render properly in Netscape 7.0

Stephen Jones
Monday, May 12, 2003

"English is their national language" (of Indians)

You wouldn't think that if you had worked with the Indians that I did. I had trouble understanding them and English is my native language, the people of other nationalities really didn't have a chance.


Tuesday, May 13, 2003

---" I had trouble understanding them and English is my native language, the people of other nationalities really didn't have a chance."---

Actually it doesn't work that way. A Spanish friend/ex-student of mine is a leading expert on solar energy, and regularly attends international conferences. He came back from one a few years back and told me he as very pleased because everybody incluindint the French spoke in English, and he could understand them all, except for the British and Americans.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, May 13, 2003

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