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By Laton McCartney
U.S. companies investing big bucks in outsourcing are becoming increasingly concerned about safety and security issues, given rising tensions in the Middle East, the recent Mumbai terror attacks and the massive accounting fraud at Satyam.
"Outsourcing buyers are now keenly aware they can no longer justify offshore cost savings where their business continuity is in jeopardy," say authors Doug Brown and Scott Wilson, who just came out with a list of the 10 most dangerous place on the planet to outsource.
Where does the real danger lie? Certainly India has become a cause for concern, according to Brown and Wilson. "The Indian outsourcing industry, struggling with geopolitical threats, decreased global spending and protectionist pressures, has been hit again, now with severe credibility issues and scandal."
Perhaps that's why India had two regions ranked among the top five most dangerous places for outsourcing, according to a survey of 448 corporate development and outsourcing destination specialists conducted by Black Book Research and Brown-Wilson Group.
Conversely, Singapore, Dublin, Ireland, and Santiago, Chile came in as the three safest locales.
However, the list does not sit well with others who track the outsourcing industry. Jerry E. Durant, Chairman Emeritus of The International Institute for Outsource Management, differs with some of Brown-Wilson's selections and the idea that a one-time incident such as the Mumbai terrorist attacks justify a "most dangerous" rating.
"An extreme situation doesn't necessarily represent an ongoing threat," Durant says. In fact, despite the terrorist attacks and the Satyam fiscal debacle, India is more safe than Egypt, which is represented on the Brown-Wilson safest list by Cairo, Durant believes.
"I know Egypt has dumped a tremendous amount of money to develop outsourcing capabilities, but I think India remains less vulnerable to safety and security problems," he says.
Durant is in accord with Brown-Wilson in viewing Kingston and Bogata as high risk areas but differs with their No. 4 most dangerous city selection, Manila. "The problems in the Philippines are down in the southern part of the country, not Manila," he says.
The widely traveled Durant would also add Jordan and Guatemala to his most dangerous list. Ultimately, though, he says that anyone looking to outsource abroad needs to do a first hand study of the area being considered. When going, he advises, "Be alert and keep a low profile."
And leave the camera and the Hawaiian shirt at home.
Next: 10 Most Dangerous Places for Outsourcing