Knowledge Lost

Two articles caught my eye in last weeks Melbourne Age IT section. The first was about two Californian business men who are setting up cruise ships 5.3km of the coast of Los Angeles where they will employ 600 software developers per ship and have them working 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week. These foreign workers will be classed as seamen and be able to come ashore without requiring visa’s. The ships will cost $US10M a piece to fit out. At first I thought this had to be an April fools day joke, but apparently they are very serious about this. One has to wonder where we are heading with such goings on. I guess the ships aren’t heading anywhere and what about the workers?

The second article was about the large numbers of qualified IT staff that have been let go from Australian companies in the last 3 or so years in the name of downsizing. It seems that these companies are now realizing that they’ve lost a vast amount of knowledge from this process, knowledge that will be quite costly to recover, assuming of course that it can be. This also ties in with offshore development (and on cruise ships) and makes me wonder whether all of the valuable information that is built up off-shore can be transferred back to its owners, or do they write that off in exchange for the money they save using off-shore development.

As far as I’m concerned building and retaining knowledge and the intellectual property that flows from that is fundamental to the long term success of any business. It’s what gives us the edge.