The New World of Offshoring and Automation --McIlroy
A related group of software is focused on the requirements for variable data printing, which I consider a different beast than full-page composition automation.
The offshoring aspect falls into the much larger trend of many U.S. businesses (and government agencies) to move what are seen as relatively low-level, yet highly priced, white collar and clerical tasks to lower-cost centers. There is mounting controversy about this subject across the political spectrum as unemployment in the U.S. continues to climb.
Fans of the global economy see this labor shift as just another aspect of the economic forces of globalism, and argue that the net benefit of lower cost goods to American consumers will outweigh the job losses. Many other observers, previously willing to see low-paid manufacturing jobs move offshore, are far less comfortable as these semi-skilled and skilled positions disappear from North America.
Printing is Not Immune
This trend to offshoring is also infiltrating the printing industry. Transcontinental Printing and Quebecor World, for example, have long been active in Mexico and Latin America, while RR Donnelley has recently opened plants in China, featuring significantly reduced manufacturing costs at quality levels comparable to their North American plants.
The issue is extremely complex, and the solutions elusive. Most people assume that offshoring is merely an attempt to gain cost advantages based on the low wages in second- and third-world countries. But my observation is that the smartest players overseas recognize that the wage advantage will disappear over time.
The only sustainable advantage is using superior technology to outperform their North American competitors. This notion is anathema to Americans, who have assumed—mostly correctly—that North America enjoys a substantial technological edge on developing countries.
But they fail to realize a new law of technology: provided the technology is affordable, developing nations will adopt it even more quickly than the first world, because these technologies represent their only hope to achieve some kind of parity with the developed world.