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Why your offshore IT provider doesn't need domain knowledge

I saw this post yesterday on the Infosys blog - Is IT-Business/Domain Knowledge overrated? - and it made me wonder - does an offshore IT provider need domain knowledge at all? Are there ways to build systems that take much of the IT work, and even some of the process execution work, offshore without having to take the business domain knowledge with it?

If you are a regular reader of my blog you will probably know my answer - yes there is a way. I believe that the future of business process outsourcing involve business rules. With this approach the offshore team does not need much if any domain knowledge as the business users and business analysts will develop and maintain the rules that drive the system/process. This helps avoid shipping critical business know-how offshore and lets you develop your core IP onshore while still developing, and executing, much of the process offshore. Indeed it can help you build a powerful SOA-enabled, rules-enabled platform for BPO. Processes and systems built offshore that allow the customer to inject their domain knowledge using business rules also enables them to to provide differentiation, for example in insurance processes that are outsourced, rather than having to tolerate "vanilla" processes.

Both John Hagel's book The Only Sustainable Edge and Tom Koulopoulos's book Smartsourcing are worth reading. I blogged about a presentation Tom gave at a recent conference here.

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