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Mar 12

Speaking to Ireland’s Software Industry

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Mar 12

March 12, 2007

Tomorrow I head to Galway, Ireland, where I’m giving a speech entitled “Is the World (Really) Flat; Measurement Insights from Around the World,” at a software conference sponsored by Enterprise Ireland and Intec Billing.

The conference sponsor asked me to give a talk that addresses – interestingly enough – the pressures that Irish software companies are feeling to outsource development to countries like India!

I find this fascinating since one of my recent client engagements involved a financial services company that was outsourcing parts of its software development to – Ireland. They wanted a productivity and quality assessment of several multi-shore projects where teams were split between the U.S. and Ireland, a place with an apparently thriving software industry.

And yet I’m struck by the common thread – that companies are finding it very challenging to manage these kinds of projects, irrespective of what country they live in. The common dilemma is the mandate from the financial executives who are dictating policy when it comes to product development strictly because of lower labor rates in the countries that they can outsource to.

So, the debate will come down to followers of Thomas Friedman on one side, who say the world is flat; that all kinds of economic activity can decentralize and migrate away from advanced countries because of the rapid technological advances in communication. And on the other side are emerging voices that say the world is spiky; that there is a powerful counterforce from the clustering of human creativity and talent – resulting in productivity and innovation gains that come from smart people being co-located in close proximity to one another. People voicing these counter-views are folks like the Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Lucas and Richard Florida, Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University and author of “The Rise of the Creative Class.”

I hope to add some lively insights into the debate by voicing what the data is saying, when we examine projects divided across continents compared to those where teams were “clustered” around. It promises to be an interesting trip to Ireland. I’ll be sure to share the experience here.

In the meantime, here’s a photo of the Cliffs of Moher. I’m told that the view is stunning and not to be missed.

02 Cliffs of Moher.jpg

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