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September 13, 2011
By Dan Berthiaume
While there are a variety of opinions on why it is happening, there is no denying the US government is making it harder for skilled IT professionals from overseas to obtain temporary work visas. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Indian consulting services such as Tata and Infosys, which is under federal investigation for alleged visa abuse, are being hit especially hard. A senior executive from Tata was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying so far the increased scrutiny of temporary visas for its consultants to work onsite for US clients has not affected his company’s profitability, but also that increased planning would be needed moving forward.
Outsourcing, and obtaining foreign workers to perform IT tasks onsite is definitely a form of outsourcing, is a sensitive political issue in these times of high unemployment and economic uncertainty. This article will astutely avoid all discussion of the political ramifications of the temporary visa issue, because whether you think outsourcing is a great way for US companies to remain globally competitive or a surrender of scarce jobs to other countries, your focus as an MSP should be on the opportunity it creates.
Simply put, every company that cannot easily obtain a foreign onsite consultant to perform a crucial IT task is a potential client for managed services which are based in the US and not subject to visa restrictions.
MSPs who specialize in providing managed IT services to the SMB market may be sadly shaking their heads right now, assuming the opportunity only exists for MSPs who serve large, multinational corporations. But that is not the case.
Although larger businesses undoubtedly turn to outsourcing more frequently than smaller ones, The Hackett Group has estimated 158,000 IT jobs were outsourced in 2010. That is a lot of jobs, and not every single one was sent offshore by a large multinational. An eight-person company operating out of the owner’s garage probably does not obtain the assistance of temporary IT consultants from firms like Tata, but a company with its own offices employing 20-30 people certainly might.
In addition to offering SMBs relief from visa headaches, MSPs offer other advantages to temporary outsourced consultants. MSPs can more easily provide continuing followup and maintenance, do not incur the same kind of expenses relating to travel/lodging, and can expand the scope of the job much more easily.
So save any political debate about outsourcing for after hours. While you are wearing your MSP hat within the U.S., remember outsourcing can be very good for your business.
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