U.S. workers found to outperform offshore staff

Interest in contracting for services in the States is 'coming back a little bit,' said research company's chief

U.S.-based workers show more initiative, are more innovative and more understanding of the business than offshore workers, a new study that looks on sourcing services in the U.S has found.

These qualities are helping to boost use of domestic IT services, especially as companies move to cloud-based services, said HfS Research, an IT services research firm and consultancy.

Domestic workers also work harder than offshore staff, but not by much. The difference was 83% to 79% when responders were asked to assign attributes to their U.S.-based and non-U.S.-based staff, said the report, which was based on a survey of 235 enterprise buyers of $1 billion or more in revenue.

In most areas associated with productivity, U.S.-based staff exceeded offshore staff by wide margins in this survey. When it came to cultural and communication skills, U.S. based staff was rated 82% versus 33% for offshore staff. In taking initiative, it was 77% to 40%, and for being innovative, it was 77% to 45%.

"U.S.-based workers more often exhibit skills deemed most relevant to productivity in today's business environment," the HfS Research report said.

When the survey looked at specific IT services functions, the findings narrowed some, but with U.S.-based workers maintaining leads nonetheless. Survey takers were asked, for instance, how satisfied they were with application development work, 77% said they very satisfied and satisfied with U.S.-based staff, versus 61% for offshore. For IT help desk, it was 71% to 54%, in favor of U.S. workers.

There are a number of things going on influencing these trends. The cost of doing work overseas is rising with wages, and while U.S. wages pay more the differences aren't what they used to be, said Phil Fersht, CEO of HfS Research.

As more work is shifted to cloud-based, it means business knowledge is needed as well as technology skills, said Fersht.

These trends are strengthening the demand for U.S. domestic services, as well as prompting overseas firms to increase U.S.-based staff.

"It's coming back a little bit," said Fersht of demand for U.S.-based IT services resources. "I wouldn't say there is a heavy swing toward using U.S. resources, but it's certainly there."

He said the trend is being helped by the visa issue in the U.S. Indeed, U.S. domestic companies have been urging Congress to tighten the rules on H-1B use.

As enterprises move into the cloud and use services such as Workday, for example, the skill requirements are "more of a business transformational skill," Fersht, "so there is a shift going on."

The survey found that 25% of all respondents are already tapping into U.S. based services delivery.

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

See more by Patrick Thibodeau on Computerworld.com.

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