If your last customer service call sounded as if it were fielded by an 8-year-old, it probably was. Outfitted with technology donated by the One Laptop Per Child program, overseas firms -- spearheaded by a new breed of young, ambitious technologists -- are bent on filling what some are calling a growing offshore void.
Long the bread and butter of major Indian and Chinese outsourcers, back-office "commodity" skills such as customer service, help desk processing, and data entry are fast phasing out of India and China, as traditional offshore firms ride the KPO (knowledge process outsourcing) wave toward the enterprise core. No longer content to sit in classrooms informing Internet denizens of the travails of daily life in the Third World via lightweight blogging tools, children from Montevideo to Addis Ababa to Kabul are banding together to capitalize on the newfound opportunity.
"The educational push of the OLPC program was a phenomenal first step. But this, the introduction of children to the lucrative IT market, will likely be the game-changing business trend of the century," said Robert Munson, chief staffing analyst at The Red Hill Group and author of the research report "The Children Are Our Future: The Low-Cost Laptop Staffing Revolution."