Outsource the Machine

The following is based on a true story, names have been changed to protect the innocent

IVR (interactive voice response) software can be very expensive, especially if you want it to work. So TLA, Inc. has decided that rather than spend a fortune purchasing or developing an IVR package, they will record the sound clips that are needed, and then outsource the actual IVR portion to Another Country. In Another Country, low paid but highly educated data center humans will use computers to play the appropriate sound file over the phone, and then enter the callers response into the computer system, before then playing the next appropriate sound file. A truly interactive system since the data center human will be performing the vital recognition part of the process.

Am I alone in finding this hilariously strange? That it is now easier for a very large US firm to pay foreign workers to perform a task a computer is currently doing in the firms own building. Is it a case that IT is too expensive, or are we entering a new age of digital slavery, where computer time can be saved by exploiting a foreign nation’s resources?

Whatever next? Unfortunately the answer is already here, and it is old news as can be seen in this USA Today article “McDonald’s may outsource drive-thru order-taking“.

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