Vietnam, the country that’s still best known to most people in the West as the backdrop for countless US war films, is on a big push to establish itself as a credible alternative for offshore and outsourced services – a market currently dominated by India and China.
The Prime Minister of Vietnam jetted over to a gathering in London last night to a gathering hosted by headhunter (and outsourcing specialist) Harvey Nash, where he banged the drum about his country’s rapid economic growth (second only to China in Asia) and political stability. He reckons Vietnam is already the third biggest offshoring destination in the region.
Well he would say that, we hear you say. But Harvey Nash outsourcing MD Paul Smith is also a big fan – he thinks Vietnam could be the most desirable destination in the world for outsourcing by 2012, thanks to its low-cost, highly-skilled workforce. ‘With deregulation, accession to the WTO and UN Security Council as well as significant overseas IT investment, Vietnam is becoming the outsourcing destination of choice for international business, not simply the poor relation… The decision to choose it as an offshore destination has become a no-brainer,’ he claimed.
Some British companies are already taking full advantage, notably energy giant BP and insurer Prudential (not to mention Harvey Nash itself, of course). But for most, the well-established charms of India and China – and to a lesser extent South Africa – are still much more popular for companies looking to offshore.
One potential issue to overcome is that those Vietnam war films live long in the memory – for a generation of business leaders brought up on Apocalypse Now, could it prove too much of a distraction? Our worry is that potential outsourcers will be too busy playing Ride of the Valkyries as their plane hits the runway, or holing up somewhere in the Mekong Delta to sacrifice a water buffalo, and forget about their call centres altogether...