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Prudential Looks Abroad for IT Talent

Since US economic growth is causing a lack of available domestic talent, more companies are expanding their human resource horizons and taking IT business overseas. Prudential Insurance ($375 billion in assets, Newark, NJ), a long time outsourcer to India, recently opened a new programming and technology operation in Ireland.

Prumerica Systems Ireland, Ltd.'s (Letterkenny, County Donegal) home was chosen because of Ireland's wealth of IT talent, according to Bill Friel, senior vice president and chief information officer of Prudential. "Ireland has become pretty well known for having developed an informationtechnology focus," says Friel. "They've not only developed significant capabilities, but the educational system is very effective along the lines of information technology."

Prumerica develops new, and maintains existing, technologies. "The Prumerica model replaces external consultants with employees off-shore who handle the maintenance of legacy systems support, reengineering of back-office systems, as well as new ways of doing customer service," says Paul Carmody, managing director, Prumerica.

Prudential realizes some cost savings with Prumerica's reduction of reliance upon consultants in the US. However, offshore development doesn't always cut costs. "Savings are offset by higher telecom and management costs," says Benjamin A. Tomb, Jr., managing director, KPMG financial services consulting (New York). When it comes "off-shoring," Tomb warns companies need to look at the total picture. "The management experience of a US-based operation cannot be replicated overseas; companies must plan on investing in the development of competence in the nationals of the countries where they locate operations," says Tomb.

The fact US Congressional legislation is approving more H1 visas, indicates a shortage of IT professionals, says Tomb. He expects it to continue as long the employment level remains, the economy is Net-related and the disparity between technical and non-technical college degrees continues.

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