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UK IT Services - The Global Challenge

IT is moving so fast. Globalisation brings new options for delivering services and products to UK markets and technology is the key enabler. Cultural differences impact client facing activites such as project management, business and systems analysis, but is much less important with technical based roles such as application developers.

Onshore/offshore offers one type of cultural resolution, or does it? At some point a handover needs to happen and the cultural differences will impact and therefore need to be managed. Is an external provider better equipped?

An external provider has more opportunity to learn as they have other client experiences to learn from. Whether the external providers take the opportunity to learn depends on what is the clients demand and how the external providers respond. Often we see disappointingly the external providers not learning, which leads to the clients seeking alternatives, replacements or resetting their expectations of IT. The last is a disaster for those of us who see IT as our chosen career and thus have professional pride.

More recently the term "nearshore" is used. The idea is to mitigate the cultural differences by seeking IT resources from more western like countries with Eastern Europe being favoured as the educational, social and economic foundations are more familiar to UK companies.

Where does this leave the UK based IT professional? At the cross roads. Setting your career path requires learning from the past and projecting. Some things are cyclic, whilst others are permanent changes. Consider how technology enables. If we can provide remote support for infrastructure, distributed development and support environments and couple this to the exploding electronic communication platforms for collaborative working, it seems unlikely that some roles will return to the UK as they were. UK application developers must have broader skills that enable them to bring more of a complete solution.

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