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Offshoring and Chinese English

systematicHR Avatar

We’ve all been dealing with call centers getting routed to India for a few years now.  In the beginning, the experiences were horrible as people navigated the many communications, process and cultural issues.  Things seem to begetting better lately though.  We are more understanding of the hurdles we need to get over the have international process and service work out, and the Indians really have a leg up on other nations that we might offshore to because they already have a long history with the Brits.

I’ve talked a bit about the Indians and my belief that they have a very serious leg up over the Chinese when it comes to offshoring.  Certainly things like manufacturing or basic programming can go to China, but the really profitable stuff like engineering or customer service type work can’t possibly go to China due to a major language gap.  So I’ have written.

I’ve been doing a bit more research on this and it actually turns out that China has been teaching English beginning in middle school for quite some time now.  In the next couple of decades, they will have more English speakers than the rest of the world combined (except India of course).  I’ve actually had the opportunity lately to speak with a Chinese born English speaking person and the accent was no more distinct than that of someone from India.  It appears I may have been wrong.

I had always thought that the advantage India would have over China would be language.  English is an official language over there after all.  However, while both countries have their advantages, I’d have to say that China might have a better culture to capitalize on capitalism.  So if English is not a major competitive consideration in another decade or so, the tides just may switch to the other side of the Indian Ocean.

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2 responses to “Offshoring and Chinese English”

  1. ram Avatar

    While I do agree with you that the Chinese could be a tough competition to the Indians, English language alone need not hold the key to success. Especially in terms of areas that involve customer service, investment research, and other high end areas, outsourcing is more of a complete package. Other issues such as customer centric attitude, IP protection etc go a long way in transforming and making an offshoring arrangement attractive and viable for both parties. Also, demographic studies indicate that India will continue to have a boom in the employable population group (20-40 group) in the coming years, while China apparently has already peaked. Hence, while China will definitely bridge the gap that exists in the BPO/KPO space at present, I dont think they will overtake India in the future!

  2. systematic Avatar

    Hi Dubs – in my experience one of the challenges working large projects with Chinese teams has been their relative lack of exposure to western business models and practices. To compensate there are often business analysts or project managers who have either worked in the west or are in fact located abroad. In that regard India also has the current advantage.