0127C: Should The BPO Industry Disappear Tomorrow

I'm not exactly sure how I came to think about today's blog entry (oh come on, read the title again). It could be related to the news about a US bill to reduce outsourcing efforts or even Obama's recent speech promoting insourcing (without directly speaking against outsourcing itself of course), but I suddenly started thinking about the worst case scenario - what would I do without call centers and the rest of the BPO / ITO industry. After all, I've already invested more than eight years of my working life to this industry so a lot of my cards happen to be involved in this particular arena.

First a disclaimer - it's not like I actually expect the US outsourcing industry to pack up and leave any time soon. It's an election year and bills like the one being discussed are a common theme that come back every time Congressional seats come into question. And even if it does pass, it'll mainly restrict / limit future outsourcing efforts, as far as I understand the bill in its present form. The jobs that have already been sent abroad remain in a gray area for now. I'm just letting my mind run wild as I consider my options.

And this is coming from the kind of kid who'd imagine at least three different ways of dying at any given moment, no matter how ridiculous. This mostly consists of a lot of slipping, falling and hitting my head but more extreme scenarios involved terrorists taking over school cafeterias. But I digress.

So for the purposes of hypothetical discussion, would would I do if working in the BPO industry no longer became an option.

Looking at my work experience, my safest fallback that stands a chance of transitioning back to the "regular" working world would definitely be training. I have over five years of experience in that department and there are a fair number of training firms in the country who might be able to hire me, although clearly not at the same pay grade as what I used to get as a Training Manager. And whether this means being just a technical trainer or perhaps becoming a full-blown consultant, I suppose it might work. The only things really working against me would be my lack of experience outside of technical training and the fact that it's really more of a buyer's market in terms trainers. Plus consulting work tends to be on a per project / pay-per-hour basis, especially if you go independent. That kind of scares me.

I could consider trying to break into the local Marketing industry, but again I feel my mainly call center focused resume may work against me. I don't have all the usual experience markers you'd associate with a marketing professional in the country. Plus I acknowledge that my experience remains more technically given my work with proposal documentation as opposed to more creative efforts with marketing collateral. I can certainly conceptualize and probably talk my way through this sort of thing, but then I'm not quite sure how far I'd get that way.

And thus the ultimate, and probably scariest, fallback is writing. Whether this means trying to get a lot of ad hoc copy writing and technical writing gigs or better yet just focus on my creative writing (and hope for the best). It's a pretty shaky angle to things, I have to admit, but one that may be my most realistic skill set with the highest potential motivation level for me. It could mean really throttling forward with my blog or really just trying my luck in the direct publishing market. And thus maybe my goal of trying to write a novel this year may not be an overly bad one since it may yield positive results in the longer term.

But I do recognize that it's not going to earn me big bucks anytime soon. It takes a while to really find your niche in the publishing market, even with the advent of the Kindle Store, plus freelance writing gigs tend to pay rather frugally, especially in the local market. So that means needing a potentially bigger next egg to act as an insurance policy for my career should the absolutely worse case happen.

There are still other options to consider, of course. I could try to get into HR work, which is something that I feel I have an aptitude for. Or I could explore the prospects of getting a sales post, even though that's really, REALLY scary. It really just boils down to how much you're willing to risk versus in the future versus what the company can provide now.

And this doesn't even factor how I still can't imagine working in the day after being on the graveyard shift for so long. You'd think that I might be dying to work a "regular" day job given my schedule, but that's not quite it at all. I think I might be able to tolerate going to work around lunch, but in no way am I wanting to brave the morning rush-hour for a paltry amount of revenue return. Ulk.

So think about it - what would you do should the BPO industry collapse tomorrow?


  1. Probably go back to my previous job with the construction industry :)

  2. At least you have some options mapped out. I can think of a number of people who may not know what to do.


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