A number of different IT skill sets are a requirement for any offshore enterprise, and the specific area of expertise offered by offshore service providers differs from country to country. According to Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass., India-the fastest growing offshore segment-offers IT technical skills, while the Russian business climate is known for it's mathematical skill set.Forrester claims call center popularity is growing fastest in the Philippines, where nationals familiar with American accents can better understand and speak to American callers. Other segments quickly gaining market share: Canada, Mexico and China, where more than 60% of American manufacturing companies currently source their requirements.

Carmine DeGennaro, IT consultant with Kanawha Insurance, Lancaster N.C., isn't convinced that offshore call centers will be successful. "I don't know if the "up close and personal" call center work is best placed overseas, because agents can be very demanding, and if you think about the various accents and problems people have understanding each other in the U.S., it doesn't sound likely that an American agent demanding answers is going to feel they are being understood by someone in the Philippines or in China."

While their success may remain to be seen, there are several IT service providers, including Cognizant, Teaneck, N.J., and Kanbay, Rosemont, Ill., that have large labor pools working in India, according to Gartner Group, Stamford, Conn. The research firm reports that other large vendors, such as Bermuda-based Accenture, Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM, and CSC, El Segundo, Calif., are currently building out operations in India and other global locations.

With the stated goal that it creates domestic and offshore operations teams that work together, CSC maintains that it's more about "creating the best solution for the customer."

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