The New World of Offshoring and Automation --McIlroy
Hard Combo to Beat
India enjoys a very high rate of English-language literacy, and a surplus of well-educated technicians. When you combine this labor force with advanced technology, there's an advantage that's hard to beat.
Let's then add to the equation a new generation of automated page composition technology (and, for printers, a new generation of expensive, but highly automated presses). The most significant aspect of these new technologies is that while the up-front acquisition costs are generally high, favoring companies with access to capital, the longer-term impact is that the labor cost component of the manufacturing process drops significantly while the capital cost component rises.
While the overall labor component drops, the labor required to operate the new technology is generally more expensive, and has to be well-trained and expertly deployed. This represents a key competitive differentiation.
My ultimate assessment of the situation is that North American graphic arts firms are foolhardy to buck the offshoring trend. They should look instead to the underlying mechanics, and recognize that the winners in this contest will be the firms that continue to invest in the latest technology, and in the staff that can make it hum.
About the Author
Thad McIlroy is an electronic publishing consultant and analyst, based at Arcadia House in San Francisco. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.