As investors we need to be nimble enough to deploy our capital wherever profit can be made, and for the future, that includes investing in the massive boom of offshoring. At least, that's what professor Robert E. Kennedy argues in his latest book, The Services Shift: Seizing the Ultimate Offshore Opportunity.
Although it really started in earnest in the 1990s, offshoring has been a well-publicized issue in recent years, with many notable companies such as IBM
A game you have to play
For good or ill, offshoring is here to stay, and Kennedy provides investors with several future trends that they can take advantage of. Despite rapid growth heretofore, offshoring still presents a very compelling investment opportunity. The author cites a study from McKinsey/NASSCOM that says offshoring has reached only one-ninth of its potential. Given the hyper-competitiveness of business these days, forward-thinking investors could do well by following the lead of global sourcers.
One way to play the trend more indirectly is by investing in American multinationals (GE, IBM, and their ilk), which have captive offshoring arms that may later be spun off. Many American companies have yet to extensively take advantage of the benefits of global sourcing. Kennedy cites research showing that the vast majority of sales of Indian IT firms are derived from just 50 of the Fortune 1000. And around 250 of those top firms have no involvement in global sourcing. The rest of the crowd has merely dipped its collective toe in the water. So there's plenty of room to grow.
Another way to play offshoring is by looking at places other than India. Kennedy argues that global sourcing will become increasingly global in nature, although India now captures about 50% of the market with such service behemoths as Infosys
With low barriers to entry into the services game, Kennedy expects countries such as the Philippines, South Africa, Hungary, and others to become havens for offshoring. He also points to the practice of "near-shoring" -- shifting services to nearby locations such as Central and South America in order to exploit similarities in American time zones. One fast-growing prodigy in this area is Bermuda-based Genpact
A move to talent
But it's not simply your stereotypical call center job that is being offshored; the trend is shifting increasingly up the value chain. Kennedy points to the increasing number of white-collar jobs being moved offshore as a major trend. Wall Street firms have embraced offshoring high-priced jobs that used to be reserved for MBAs. Other multinationals moving high-value-added positions abroad include Microsoft
The move up the value chain is part of a wider trend in offshoring, the shift from cost as a primary driver to high-quality talent as the key focus. Drawing from a larger sea of labor means you catch more smart fish. Large organizations have realized that few nations have all the talent that they need at the price that they want. "It’s about gaining to access to the best combination of talent, resources, and local markets," Kennedy argues.
Bringing it all back home
In The Services Shift, Kennedy analyzes many other future trends for the offshoring industry and provides compelling research to support his points, suggesting how Fools and business managers looking to play the trend can profit. "This powerful trend is not a fad, but a huge, fundamental, and irreversible shift," says Kennedy.
It's time to outsource your offshoring by investing in high-quality businesses that move your capital to the most efficient areas.
You have been warned.
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