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Immigration Reform May Spur Software Robotics

timothy posted about a year ago | from the way-of-all-flesh dept.

AI 146

dcblogs writes "The Senate's immigration bill may force the large offshore outsourcing firms to reduce their use of H-1B visa-holding staff, forcing them to hire more local workers and raising their costs. But one large Indian firm, Infosys, will try to offset cost increases with software robotics. Infosys recently announced a partnership with IPsoft, a New York-based provider of autonomic IT services. With IPsoft's tools, work that is now done by human beings, mostly Level 1 support, could be done by a software machine. Infosys says that IPsoft tools can 'reduce human intervention.' More colorfully, Chandrashekar Kakal, global head of Infosys's business IT services, told the Times of India, that 'what robotics did for the auto assembly line, we are now doing for the IT engineering line.' James Slaby, a research director of HFS Research who has been following the use of autonomics closely, wrote in a recent report that the IPsoft partnership may help Infosys 'reap fatter margins by augmenting and replacing expensive, human IT support engineers with cheaper, more accurate, efficient automated processes,' and by improving service delivery."

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146 comments

Bound to work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43782909)

I bet this works just as well as hiring Indian coders.

Re:Bound to work... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43782945)

helo, this is Peggy, press CTRL+ALT+DEL to continue this call

Re:Bound to work... (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#43783193)

Ironically, it'd likely work just as well as hiring Indian help-desk staff.

I suspect Infosys (an Indian company) will likely end up stabbing their own jobs market in the gut with this one, should it take off.

Re:Bound to work... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783305)

To paraphrase:

go away, I have replaced you with a shell script. A small one.

Re:Bound to work... (3, Insightful)

babbage_a (2928927) | about a year ago | (#43783881)

And should also work better than all the lazy American, European, Asian....(add ethnicity, nationality here) bums. I don't understand the racism on these forums. If you think you are smart, there are people smarter than you in the race you are criticizing.

Re:Bound to work... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43785317)

To paraphrase:

go away, I have replaced you with a shell script. A small one.

For example, echo "Closed, WONTFIX" could replace some programmers.

Re:Bound to work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783383)

Anyone reading a damn scripted card from a flow-chart flip-book system can be replaced by automation. I think the only thing still holding it back and keeping those jobs in place is voice recognition. (The person in India still seems better than the bot at telling the difference between "yes", "no", and "repeat again". And yes I've gone through bots that are still too stupid. I may get "Liz" by going through the call-center operator, but at least she's somewhat useful after talking my way back through all the script item steps.)

Re:Bound to work... (3, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#43783463)

. I think the only thing still holding it back and keeping those jobs in place is voice recognition. (The person in India still seems better than the bot at telling the difference between "yes", "no", and "repeat again".

But on the upside, we the customer, will be able to understand the bots MUCH easier than we currently can the Indian named "Bob" on that support call.

Re:Bound to work... (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43783839)

That's because Bob in India only needs to understand "Repeat Again". It's the only thing he ever hears.

Re:Bound to work... (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43784073)

Anyone reading a damn scripted card from a flow-chart flip-book system can be replaced by automation. I think the only thing still holding it back and keeping those jobs in place is voice recognition.

Voice reco is getting very good these days, but that doesn't mean that its going to solve the problem of being read a script from a flip book.

The script is there to allow the "tech support" to offer something they call "support" without having to know a single thing about what equipment or software you have, and what it is used for. These people are totally clueless. It would be easier to put the entire thing online.

But that still leaves you with a script-bot that has no insight, no ability to pick up on a nuance ("My tv only works in the evening") to understand that there is nothing wrong with the TV other than the fact that it was plugged into a switched outlet intended for a lamp, and the wall switch was off during the day.

If you don't have humans with some knowledge in the loop there is no way to even improve the stupid script.

programming is not a prodcution line (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#43782931)

As I recall a senior member of the BSI telling me when I was working on a research project that went towards the development of BS 5750 AKA ISO 9000. Sounds like Mr Kakal doesn't really understand either IT or Production engineering

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (4, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43782969)

Judging from the summary, they're looking to replace support more than production. I'm pretty sure this isn't a new idea... all you need is a cassette tape playing "Have you tried turning it off and on again" on a loop.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (2)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | about a year ago | (#43783067)

All you need is a cassette tape playing "Have you tried turning it off and on again" on a loop.

Who holds the copyright on that phrase?

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43783431)

Who holds the copyright on that phrase?

I first thought of Edison, but then it occurred to me that this was actually Tesla's approach...

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43783083)

Which is why 90% of the time support for something is totally worthless.

Verizon wireless was rejecting some of the SMS we send our own employees. There is no one we could talk to who had any idea what to do. No customer facing person had any ability to tell us why they started doing this or if there was a process around it.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (3, Interesting)

gmack (197796) | about a year ago | (#43783201)

At least they tried to help. When one of my customers stopped getting push emails on her Blackberry, I was told by Rodgers Mobility support that push email is an unsupported feature and the policy was that she could not report delivery problems to anyone.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (3, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#43783549)

I once had the displeasure of telling our client that the vendor (luckily not our company but our partner, so I could say "they" not "us") did not support the use of the "back" button in their web interface. Any support case that involved using it would be closed as not supported. For bonus points they didn't provide any functionality equivalent to it either, so of course everyone used the back button anyway where it did work. To me it's a bit like selling a four door car where the back doors are only for decoration and actually opening and closing the doors are not supported but I guess if you have enough lawyers and impenetrable contracts anything is possible.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (1)

frinkster (149158) | about a year ago | (#43784597)

To me it's a bit like selling a four door car where the back doors are only for decoration and actually opening and closing the doors are not supported but I guess if you have enough lawyers and impenetrable contracts anything is possible.

That was the Jeep Cherokee if you ever took it off-road. People loved them.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (3, Interesting)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year ago | (#43783225)

We had a similar issue with some provider not accepting our texts. It may have been Verizon. We had to ask one of our managers who used to work at Verizon to call a buddy of his who still worked there. Turned out that they have a different message size than other providers or something, and that if we sent something to the usual 160 character limit, it would not send at all. It was an edge case, but I am surprised it never came up before.

At this point, we need support companies that we pay that actually have employees who "know someone" inside the organization, because these big companies are about as transparent as muddy crude oil.

Verizon is a bit of a special case... (5, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#43783387)

If you think that's bad, try getting help on a server issue when you're not a Verizon customer.

Back in 2006, I was working for a DoD contractor, and discovered that our order emails to suppliers were bouncing as spam if it went to a Verizon address. We tried for a solid week to call everyone we could possibly find at Verizon that could help, but either got stonewalled, referred to some useless person, or (most often) shoved into the standard customer tech support queue. Mostly we were treated like either a social-engineering attempt, an idiot, or something similar.

Thing is, my employer ran the EMALL website, which all armed forces used to order anything which wasn't an actual weapon. Our index was bigger than Amazon's

Finally, I gave up and spoke with the managers at DLA (Defense Logistics Agency), laying out the problem to date. We then put out a system-wide notice to all DoD suppliers that if they wanted to sell something to the military, they'd damned well better use something other than a Verizon email account. Two weeks later, Verizon came out of the blue, desperately calling us asking what they could do to help us out. Turns out they weren't fully RFC-compliant at the time; they fixed it pretty quickly once they realized that a lot of their DoD-supplier customers were suddenly asking them how much the contract ETFs came to.

Sad part is, if my employer was some tiny company in BFE, there would likely still be a problem with the damned thing.

Re:Verizon is a bit of a special case... (1)

StarryEyed (2642737) | about a year ago | (#43785597)

This is exactly correct, Verizon exists in a weird anti-communication bubble. You simply cannot contact them to resolve any sort of server-level problem. I was an enterprise mail server support guy for a company that sells specialized mail servers to thousands of data centers. One day Verizon started dropping one email out of every 12 that was sent to them, no matter who was the source or the content of the message! I tracked it down to one of their 12 email servers that faced the external world, anytime a message went into that server it was for all purposes simply eaten, never to be seen again. For literally months I went through the same human contact problem Penguinisto is talking about. I had never before discovered a company that you can't communicate with. It made me wonder how they could possibly remain in business.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43784933)

I had one Verizon Business phone support rep tell me that Verizon doesn't offer VoIP, so there was no way for her to transfer to the VoIP support group (which I had talked to many times before but had lost the number). So I asked her, "Does that mean we can stop paying you $2000/mo for a service you don't offer?". She hung up on me.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#43783259)

Judging from the summary, they're looking to replace support more than production. I'm pretty sure this isn't a new idea... all you need is a cassette tape playing "Have you tried turning it off and on again" on a loop.

What seems sort of curious is that 'support' is what happens when software(sometimes hardware; but hardware at least has the decency to usually fail dramatically enough to just be swapped out, and would be hard to roboticize outside of a datacenter or something in any case) fucks up hard enough, or confuses the user hard enough, that an IT minion gets called in.

Adding a layer of 'software robotics' to second-guess the existing layer of dysfunctional software just seems like a nightmare of cascading complexity waiting to happen(especially since the software robot will need its own hooks into the system, or some impressive screen-scraping and OCR/natural language capabilities. I'm not saying that it's impossible; but it seems like money ill-spent compared to money dedicated to building more robust software that requires IT to come in and give it a shove a bit less frequently.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783739)

Initial tech support simply follows a predefined script. Instead of a person asking did you do XZD? A robot will say do XZD then press 3 if DAC else press 4.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (2)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#43783863)

What seems sort of curious is that 'support' is what happens when software(sometimes hardware; but hardware at least has the decency to usually fail dramatically enough to just be swapped out, and would be hard to roboticize outside of a datacenter or something in any case) fucks up hard enough, or confuses the user hard enough, that an IT minion gets called in.

No, first line support is often dealing with people that have a PEBCAK problem, not a software or hardware problem. Or at least not one related to what you're actually providing support for in a supported configuration. I suspect that many companies don't actually want a support line, if you have a problem they'd rather you get pissed and go somewhere else than tie up one of their employees - even your outsourced call center guy. Unless it's a big thing affecting many users in which case you probably know it without everyone calling in. It's not acceptable to not offer support, but you can make it useless enough that most people won't bother. This all sounds like a much cheaper way of providing non-support while still giving the pretense that you do. Let's call it a tier zero before you even get to reach first line support, far less knowledgeable support.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43783001)

As I recall a senior member of the BSI telling me when I was working on a research project that went towards the development of BS 5750 AKA ISO 9000. Sounds like Mr Kakal doesn't really understand either IT or Production engineering

they're replacing call center dudes. not production.

it sounds better if they call it IT business than call center business I suppose. it's meant for the bozos at hr/some fantasy land who read computer world.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (2)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#43783071)

Doing speech recognition to reliably detect say even the 20 most common problems with a help desk that might be harder than you think

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#43783103)

It's increasingly common so it must not be too hard.

Some companies I deal with have no human "escape hatch" option available any more.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43783141)

I would then stop dealing with them.

I have no tolerance for spending 20 minutes to get a 2 minute thing done. VZW's system is terrible. I want to pay the bill, it even offers to let you pay before you hear about your account if you select that it then tells you about your account before letting you pay. It was designed by a crazy person.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783765)

You know who *used* to have a bad ass system? Sony.

You would call them up it would recognize your phone number (and what you have bought if you registered). It would ask you what you are calling about and route you to the correct repair center. If you had an open call it would route you to the same guy you were working with before and he would give you a status update. It was actually very cool to call them. No re-describing issues over and over no trying the same things over and over. *Then* they changed it out. You would then end up talking to 3 different guys who had no clue what was going on. It was rather sad.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (2)

gmack (197796) | about a year ago | (#43783291)

Not that hard? It's amazing how many of them screw up badly.

In UPS case the damn thing can't even handle my Canadian accent. Nothing so infuriating than to have to read my number, have the IVR repeat it back to me garbled and then have to tell the damn computer it got it wrong and then have to go through the process twice more before being forwarded to a support person to sort it all out. I've even tried changing my pronunciation from "Zed" to "Zee" .. still no dice.

My only thought is that they either don't keep statistics on how often that happens or that the managers who make the decisions never see them.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (1)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#43783015)

but but, it will be cheaper!? my software robot, Pascal, written in assembly, likes to think of it self as a program... how quaint.

Re:programming is not a prodcution line (1)

tattood (855883) | about a year ago | (#43783091)

but but, it will be cheaper!?

It will if US companies skip the middleman (Infosys) and just use IPsoft themselves.

Lets file this under.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43782937)

Lets file this under big data, cloud computing, etc.. for future sales jargon to sell more useless stuff to BIG business and government.

"Useless" is defined in this case as something you could have written and run in house for 1/10000 of the cost but didn't.

Wut? (1)

jimmetry (1801872) | about a year ago | (#43782939)

This story tells me nothing.

Re:Wut? (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#43783053)

"The autonomic tools that IPsoft makes are designed to bring software robotic automation and machine learning to routine IT functions, such as help desks, operations and infrastructure management. In other words, with IPsoft's tools, work that is now done by human beings could be done by a software machine."

it's either more automatic phone reply machines or possibly more of the way of doing business where instead of calling an amazon guy to setup you a new server, you use their tools to deploy the server yourself and amazon doing a robo-call to test if you're the person you say you are and instead of calling amazons support you look up their faq on their site.

dressing it in 10 paragraphs of bullshit makes a better article - for computer world. also it makes it sound more unique, which it certainly isn't, since we've been using amazon for a while with zero human interaction with sales, support or anyone.

Re:Wut? (2)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#43783135)

The company I retired from laid off about 5k people-- found it had to hire about 800 of those back (and is having a hard time getting suck.. people... to take those jobs).

It's designing it's order entry system to allow it to lay off most of its ma and customer support (another 8000 or so people). But it's SO obvious about it that its losing the good staff which is ironically slowing down the automation.

If you RTFWS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783767)

...then you might agree with me that they're probably talking about IPS' "Expert Systems for Autonomic IT Management". If you like cartoons, meet Max:

http://www.ipsoft.com/content/meet-max

No idea whether it works or not. There are lots of corporations in the world who can talk a good game, just not play one. Many of them are in India. You decide.

Re:Wut? (1)

jimmetry (1801872) | about a year ago | (#43783783)

Oh, a *software* machine. You mean those new fandangly things with the opcodes and punchcards and stuff! Nice!

Have you tried turning it off and on again (1)

asticia (1623063) | about a year ago | (#43782993)

Indeed, "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" sentence can be read by any automaton, if you call their outsourced helldesk.

Re:Have you tried turning it off and on again (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783075)

Yes, but will "shibboleet" [xkcd.com] still work?

Been there done that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783013)

This was tried in the late 90's. It just results in a beating of the phone keypad and four letter (english) words.

Voice based customer support sucks (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43783021)

Voice based customer support sucks and some times you have to get to a real person to get stuff done.

Re:Voice based customer support sucks (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#43783079)

Voice based customer support sucks and some times you have to get to a real person to get stuff done.

Indeed; apparently those who think this is some great new innovation have never had to call in to Verizon Business' IVR... or maybe they're the assholes that run it.

In short - It's fucking torture.

Re:Voice based customer support sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783133)

Voice based customer support sucks and some times you have to get to a real person to get stuff done.

Yes, and answering questions and problems that are solved by "Did you reboot?" and "Are you sure the machine is plugged in?" also suck.
So, Suck + Suck = ???
What we need is MegaMaid, so that all that sucks with Customer Service can be switched to Blow.

(And, who really cares if the outsourced/contracted support already blows before you replaced with automation?)

Re:Voice based customer support sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783223)

I really hate that they have gone away from pressing buttons. Say 'Yes' if you want to do blah. I'm sorry, I didn't get that. Also, if the answer was on your website, I WOULDN'T BE ON THE PHONE, don't keep saying go to your website as an alternate or as an easier way to accomplish something.

Wipro and Infosys two companies that should die (4, Insightful)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43783069)

Both Wipro and Infosys are the worst in terms of H1-B visa abuse and should not be allowed to operate in this country.

http://profit.ndtv.com/news/industries/article-us-senator-accuses-infosys-wipro-tcs-of-abusing-h-1b-visas-321282 [ndtv.com]

But, unfortunately they're connected with Washington's elite and throw money around in DC to keep things like the H1-B program alive. Remember that during the next election cycle.

Re:Wipro and Infosys two companies that should die (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#43783161)

Infosys does something else that american companies used to do with Aramco.

They bring a bunch of infosys people over, warehouse them near the client, and pay them indian wages. They keep them in the country for six months-- preferably from july to december so they can keep them in the country for six months until the next july.

Then they ship them back home. They were never american employees to begin with. They were indian employees. Which leaves us competing here with experienced software developers working for under 30k. It was some special kind of non h1b visa. Perhaps an L1?

Re:Wipro and Infosys two companies that should die (2, Informative)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43783369)

Do you by T-shirts? Jeans? Cars? DVD players? Computers? They're all made overseas by companies that do it more cheaply than we do. If that didn't happen, they'd be much more expensive. So why does this become a problem all of a sudden if it's software development?

It's a problem since it's based on fraud and abuse (1)

sethstorm (512897) | about a year ago | (#43783481)

Take away all the dishonesty and watch the cost "differential" evaporate into thin air.

In addition, those guest workers are sought for having the status as indentured servants, something not associated with citizens in the properly functioning (and non-distorted by guest workers/illegals) job markets of First World countries like the US.

A few decades ago, McCarthy would have rightfully put you and these companies in their place for siding with enemies of the United States of America.

Re:It's a problem since it's based on fraud and ab (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43783673)

Take away all the dishonesty and watch the cost "differential" evaporate into thin air.

Foreign programmers are willing to do the same job for less money; where's the "dishonesty"?

In addition, those guest workers are sought for having the status as indentured servants, something not associated with citizens in the properly functioning (and non-distorted by guest workers/illegals) job markets of First World countries like the US.

The workers Maxo-Texas was referring to are short term visitors that find out customer needs here and then go back to their home country. Where is the "indentured servitude" there? Even H1-B workers have the option of quitting and leaving any time they want; it is a temporary worker program, after all, and people signing up for it have no expectation of staying.

A few decades ago, McCarthy would have rightfully put you and these companies in their place for siding with enemies of the United States of America.

McCarthy was a moron. Fortunately, the US realized that free trade and free international competition was in its own security and economic interest, and we have prospered because of it.

Re:It's a problem since it's based on fraud and ab (3, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about a year ago | (#43783821)

Wages are leveling out.

My main point of irritation is that I can't legally buy movies, medicine, software development packages, and many other products for the extremely low price the same corporations legally sell them to indians and chinese for.

I have to pay $19.99 for a movie selling legally in china for $2.49.
I have to pay $5.00 a day for blood pressure medication selling legally in india for 10 cents.

It's ILLEGAL for someone to buy a bunch over there and ship it back here and sell the movies for $3.49 and the pills for 20 cents (100% mark up).

A few years ago Microsoft was GIVING development suites to indians free while I had to pay $750 for the same product.

Indian wages (as of novermber 2012) were going up 20%. China is seeing 12% to 100% annual wage inflation.

It's been a long painful walk, but sometime in the next 4-8 years it won't be worth it to offshore any more. These automation programs are a leading edge. Infosys also is trying to rebrand themselves from being a company that sells legions of code monkeys and grunt programmers to a company that sells managers and ceos. That's also a sign of the increasing wage structure.

I was lucky. I lived on half of what I made since 2000 and I was able to retire early. Now I do massage therapy, draw, and paint for fun. I'm looking at doing some programming for fun but haven't done so yet. Either Libreoffice (I read they are friendly), or Android (for my dnd game), or some kind of board gaming table software.

Re:It's a problem since it's based on fraud and ab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43784635)

Everybody should read Maxo-Texas comment twice. It's exactly the problem with anything done outside of the U.S. whether you import the product or the worker.

stenvar said:

Take away all the dishonesty and watch the cost "differential" evaporate into thin air.

Foreign programmers are willing to do the same job for less money; where's the "dishonesty"?

While foreign programmer are willing to work for less money, they don't work for a lesser lifestyle. It just costs less to live at the median level in India and China than it does in the U.S. As Maxo-Taco said, where would companies like Walmart or Target be if China and India could sell directly to the public? Imagine that you bypass Amazon and buy directly from China. DealsExtreme does it very cheaply. Walmart and Target are the real constituency of your senators and congressmen.

The time's coming when American retailers and businesses will be completely bought out or displaced by Chinese companies as will the management that runs those companies. Then the wailing and gnashing of teeth will begin.

Re:It's a problem since it's based on fraud and ab (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43785067)

Imagine that you bypass Amazon and buy directly from China. DealsExtreme does it very cheaply. Walmart and Target are the real constituency of your senators and congressmen.

Well, more free trade and lower import duties would be nice.

The time's coming when American retailers and businesses will be completely bought out or displaced by Chinese companies as will the management that runs those companies. Then the wailing and gnashing of teeth will begin.

The economy doesn't work that way; rather, as the Chinese get richer, they'll have a larger share of the world economy until we eventually reach an equilibrium. And as borders and trade become more open, it will matter less and less anyway.

Re:It's a problem since it's based on fraud and ab (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43785021)

My main point of irritation is that I can't legally buy movies, medicine, software development packages, and many other products for the extremely low price the same corporations legally sell them to indians and chinese for.

I agree that it's irritating. But I don't think it's rally all that serious. Differences are mostly for patents and copyrights, and those will go away as wage differences disappear.

It's been a long painful walk, but sometime in the next 4-8 years it won't be worth it to offshore any more.

I don't think it's been painful at all. We're actually much better off than we used to, and the fact that the Chinese and Indians have developed as well as they have makes us all a lot safer.

I was lucky. I lived on half of what I made since 2000 and I was able to retire early

That's not luck, you were prudent. More people should be like that.

Re:Wipro and Infosys two companies that should die (2)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#43783335)

...Remember that during the next election cycle.

Are you suggesting that we vote out the incumbents?

But but... my party! I can't let those other guys into office because they'd be worse!!!

The system is broken, I know that. But I consider myself morally responsible, so I have to vote for the lessor of two evils!

Certain NDAA provisions would be useful. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | about a year ago | (#43783381)

All the force on K Street won't matter if Wipro/Infosys/etc. and their lobbyists have a very bad day with the explicit disclosure of why. Just explain to the public that their fraud and all their misdeeds (public and otherwise) on national television if someone complains. It's a desperate measure, but someone brave enough to do it would gain the confidence of millions of US citizens defrauded out of jobs; it would be the "Icarus falling out of the sky" moment for the abuse of guest workers of any skill level.

It just takes one Trojan Horse of a President to get in and do the deed.

Please forward to the National Enquirer (1)

Baldrson (78598) | about a year ago | (#43783127)

If H-1b visas are being requested for level 1 support jobs, the FBI should investigate the requesting companies for fraud.

Re:Please forward to the National Enquirer (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43783177)

What color is the sky on your world?

This is exactly what H1-B is used for all the time. Call up infosys and ask. They will be more than happy to replace your current helpdesk with H1-Bs.

Re:Please forward to the National Enquirer (1)

Baldrson (78598) | about a year ago | (#43783317)

The color of sky in my world is the same color it is in the world where H-1b fraud is so routine it is considered legitimate.

Re:Please forward to the National Enquirer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783931)

If Barack Obama accused them of being Mitt Romney supporters, the IRS and FBI would investigate them. (Total coincidence, though.) Since he didn't, they won't.

Support is already heavily automated (2)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43783169)

We already have "knowledge bases", "community support", and support outsourced to Far, Far Away. Microsoft did some work with Bayesian statistics to find out which questions a support tech should ask first. Much software already "phones home" to send trouble reports and crash dumps. There's been some good work on automated crash dump classification, to group similar crash dumps together and send them all to the same maintenance programmer.

They're just talking about level 1 calls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783199)

I bet what they're talking about isn't that sophisticated. I bet it's along the lines of "press 1 if you can't surf the web, press 2 if you can surf the web but can't get email..." followed by some very basic trouble shooting instructions and "please wait for a representative" when that fails.

The self-guided tree can only get so complex before people start posting advice on how to get a real person.

Re:They're just talking about level 1 calls (2)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | about a year ago | (#43783637)

Compared to most level 1 tech support I have dealt with, I would rather talk to a bot.

Add security problem to economic problem. (0)

sethstorm (512897) | about a year ago | (#43783245)

Given that it's from one of the most un-American entities out there, I'd say that it'll end up doing the exact opposite. It'll be shoddily coded and maintained as well as run.

If there's a way to identify an IPsoft/install, the best thing is to get a human and to get one not from a Third World country.

I just mash the keys (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783251)

If I pickup the phone and it's a computer calling me, I hangout and block the number.
If I call into a system and it's automated I just mash the keys until it gives up and puts me through to a human.
I am a paying American customer. I am a human being and if you want to do business with me you had damn well better put a human being on your phone lines, otherwise fuck you.

This country drastically needs immigration reform (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783341)

I think a bounty program where American citizens earn $1000 per illegal immigrant captured alive and $500 for every illegal immigrant killed sounds fair.

Not even... (2)

EvilSS (557649) | about a year ago | (#43783419)

"With IPsoft's tools, work that is now done by human beings, mostly Level 1 support, could be done by a software machine."

Software Machine? From my experience most first level support could be replaced with a batch file or python script. 99% are just following a script, or worse, just act as some sort of very faulty speech-to-text interface for turning a phone call into text in a ticket and tossing said ticket over the wall to the next level of support.

Good (2)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#43783601)

We need more automation in general.

I know this means some low level jobs evaporate. But it also means companies aren't having to pay for those jobs anymore which means their priorities will shift to getting trained labor. And that means either companies will start focusing more on actually training their own labor a bit more which they can afford if they're not paying for low end labor. Or the universities will at least get somewhat competent at preparing people for the work force.

People whine about automation but its pointless. Its the future. Deal with it.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43783815)

Ha! Companies aren't going to invest in training their own labor a bit more. They'll take the reduction in costs as short terms boost in profits and pocket the money.

I agree, things should be automated as much as possible, but it takes a generation or two before that automation changes from disruptive to useful.

Re:Good (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43784013)

We need more automation in general.

People whine about automation but its pointless. Its the future. Deal with it.

I don't know if I'd say it's the future, because someday the Luddites might win. It is, however, the only way that we can increase or even maintain (in the face of more expensive natural resources) our standard of living. It does cause short term pain, and you shouldn't deny that reality. However the rate of job loss is less than when they ship whole factories or industries offshore. The automation also provides a genuine permanent increase in productivity, rather than the supposed comparative advantage of offshoring (which is actually cost shifting - true comparative advantage comes from climate and geography, human skills and infrastructure can change quickly).

Most likely this "development" is hype, but if it isn't, then great. I hope they create great technology.

they are re-discovering fire and flint tools (2)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about a year ago | (#43783833)

, work that is now done by human beings, mostly Level 1 support, could be done by a software machine

MUAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAHA. Oh, sorry, you were serious. Oh well, MUAAHAHAHAHAHHAAAHAH!!!!

On a serious note, those of us who are in the knows, who have done some type of IT work, we know that that is bullshit. Tier I support has never been done, and can never be done with a IVR system.

For example, let's consider IVR systems, which is where these supposed "software machine" silver bullets can fit in. Call your cell phone or cable provider, and you will see that at most, what you get is an IVR system that leads you to an specialist (or sometimes someone who is reading a script of instructions) after the IVR has tried to collect some basic problem description that, in theory, helps facilitate the specialist.

That is all.

Let's call the IVR system a Tier-0 support system (or more appropriately, a routing system that takes a customer to actual Tier I support.) That is all. It's only when a human being in Tier I support fails at resolving the issue, that Tier II and Tier III get summoned. One would have to create one hell of an expert systems to barely begin to mimick Tier I support for the general-case type of problems.

All you would do is piss the customer. Case in point, look at AT&T and Bank of America, and other cell providers. They are phasing out IVR systems (or severely reducing them) in favor of actual human beings (couple that with a minor shift away from offshore call centers, but that's another story.)

And that is just for mundane tasks.

'what robotics did for the auto assembly line, we are now doing for the IT engineering line.

Yeah, because IT is like pulling levers or flipping burguers (no offense, since I once pulled levers and flipped burguers.)

Serious question: Do they even know what the hell robotics mean?????

I bet they actually do but they are simply latching to the next buzzword (since manufacturing and robotics are the hot pancakes of the day), hoping for the next business-type offsourcing dumbass to actually fall for it.

Up next on Fox News, they invented software-based monkey coders (and thus circumvented Turing's Halting Problem.)

Re:they are re-discovering fire and flint tools (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43784883)

I thought that most of tier 1 calls can be eliminated if people simply read the manual?

of course, with the present usage of The Cloud as the location of the manual, the always on and available wiki will be filled with gems like "remember to come back and finish this" (click help in modern software... I fear what would happen if there was no network connection... I found that in wireshark yesterday when looking up SSL stream tracing information... (I guess normal users call for tier 1 support at that point and is instructed to try power cycling the connection on loop)

I used someone's tablet and clicked on the help in chrome, and it went online to pull the manual. What if the tablet couldn't get online? It had no help.

So yes, you're right -- if the practice is to continually not ship with documentation, and the links to documentation contain unfinished works, then your tier 1 human who can tell me to try rebooting the SSL connection might never go away. But if they bothered to actually send manuals and people weren't ashamed to read them, I think we wouldn't have to be groaning about helpdesk support being outsourced to another country. There wouldn't be much need for it. I guess that makes me some sort of anti-capitalist, trying to get people to learn...

Re:they are re-discovering fire and flint tools (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about a year ago | (#43785107)

I thought that most of tier 1 calls can be eliminated if people simply read the manual?

This is only true if a) the system is trivial enough or b) if the manual is well-written and the system's usage is self-evident and easily deductible from its interfaces. Most systems do not fit that description.

RTFM can only take us so far, in particular if the users are not technically savyy beyond some business-specific competency (for general systems, neither they have to, nor should we make it a requirement.)

Any complex system, be it software, electric, mechanical, whatever, will be used in manners and conditions not expected, but that yet will fall within its normal operations. It is simply a combinatorial problem that no manual will ever be able to cover.

of course, with the present usage of The Cloud as the location of the manual, the always on and available wiki will be filled with gems like "remember to come back and finish this" (click help in modern software... I fear what would happen if there was no network connection... I found that in wireshark yesterday when looking up SSL stream tracing information... (I guess normal users call for tier 1 support at that point and is instructed to try power cycling the connection on loop)

I used someone's tablet and clicked on the help in chrome, and it went online to pull the manual. What if the tablet couldn't get online? It had no help.

Systems like these (for example, Chrome) are typically self-evident in usage for the general consumer. It is true, however, that utter reliance on the cloud for help is a big design no-no for me as well. I guess now "help" means "google".

It certainly simplifies design, but it doesn't necessarily simplifies users' experience.

So yes, you're right -- if the practice is to continually not ship with documentation, and the links to documentation contain unfinished works, then your tier 1 human who can tell me to try rebooting the SSL connection might never go away. But if they bothered to actually send manuals and people weren't ashamed to read them, I think we wouldn't have to be groaning about helpdesk support being outsourced to another country. There wouldn't be much need for it. I guess that makes me some sort of anti-capitalist, trying to get people to learn...

That last part in bold made no sense.

Re:they are re-discovering fire and flint tools (1)

Megane (129182) | about a year ago | (#43785487)

work that is now done by human beings, mostly Level 1 support, could be done by a software machine

MUAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAHA. Oh, sorry, you were serious. Oh well, MUAAHAHAHAHAHHAAAHAH!!!!

Don't worry, the software will be written by contractors from India. And it will be set up as its own tech support line.

Quality of Indian H1-Bs have fallen drastically. (3, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43783841)

Compare to the pre 2000 era, the quality of H1-Bs from India has fallen dramatically. Family ties, food and entertainment preferences, increasing availability of imported stuff, increasing wages due to local economic growth etc have created a very good working conditions for the top quality Indian engineers. So many/most of them prefer to stay back. Labor is cheap in India, so these guys/gals employ cooks, servant maids and drivers and get plenty of free time to enjoy the money they earn. The heavy influx of Indians in the pre 2000 sent back real down to earth feedback about life in America. "Uninterrupted power, running water, clean air, cars, air conditioned homes etc etc. But no servant maids, you clean the toilet yourself". Many younger generation Indians, especially girls refuse to come to USA, because often the dirty task of cleaning the bathrooms fall on the wives. All this has led to a drastic reduction in the quality of people still willing to come to USA.

Most people who are still coming to USA fall in two categories. Some of them still love the freedom, opportunities and the general law and order and free markets etc. The other set is people who did not make the top cut in India, so trying to improve their chances by adding American experience to their resume.

Pretty soon all the goodwill earned by the top notch graduates from IITs, IISc and National Institutes of Technology, in the 1990s and early 2000s would have been totally spent. May be it has already happened. Now the fresh Indian H1-Bs are often seen as malingering, incompetent but with highly inflated ego. So even if the H1-B quota is raised to infinity, if the American corporations wise up, most of these visas will go unused. But Corporate America has to wake up first.

Re:Quality of Indian H1-Bs have fallen drastically (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43784347)

This is what has been happening in Silicon Valley and several other software development regions in the US. the talent pool is appalling. There is a lot of nepotism and favorite-seeking. I have seen engineers from India promoted to senior architect positions by their Indian-peer manager, who don't know the first thing about how to architect software systems! Add to this the fact that in some of these situations the software underdevelopment was for mission-critical systems, like air transport, medical diagnostic systems, finance, etc.

What we're looking at, downstream, over the next several years, is a domino effect that is going to make us reap[ the whirlwind for letting these incompetents in to our software development environments.

A few months ago I was talking with someone who told me about absolutely unqualified L-1 (student) visa employees who were put into mission-critical positions, having almost no idea what they were doing.

Another thing that comes along with what I prefer to call a pestilence of H1-B's is their cultural attitudes toward women, and subordinate employees. The sheer arrogance of Indian managers is something to behold. I have seen too many treat their employees like chattel, and put up an all-but-opaque glass ceiling for women, and non-Indian employees.

ANYONE who gets out and asks around in Silicon Valley can verify this, but the press it too lazy to look at what's going on.

Another thing: most of the recruiters in these regions are ex-H1-B's who have moved from software development into recruiting, where they steadily eliminate highly qualifies American candidates from consideration, and "hire their own". Go talk to most of these so-called recruiters about job requirements for an RFP; they don't know what they're talking about; they will read an inflated RFP that is meant to EXCLUDE qualified Americans (with overblown requirements) as if it's the bible. They don't even understand what it takes to do the job.

So, this is what Bill Gates, John Chambers, and many other greedy CEO's have brought us, a whole new culture of ineffective H1-B's, working on our mission-critical software.

That said, there are some talented ones, but they are the EXCEPTION. Don't believe me? Go and ask around.

Here's more:
What's little known is that American corporations are using large-scale outright deception and manipulation in an attempt to displace American Workers.

Some of the information presented in the following links will shock most Americans, because American corporate leaders don't want us to know the truth, and they are paying off policy makers with contributions to keep the truth from us. The H-1B fiasco has cost Americans $10TRILLION dollars, since 1975. For anyone who wants to know the truth, read on.

One of the most respected technology pundits in Silicon Valley:
http://www.cringely.com/2012/10/23/what-americans-dont-know-about-h-1b-visas-could-hurt-us-all/

Watch this attorney and his consultants teach corporations how to manipulate the law to replace qualified American workers:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCbFEgFajGU

Here's more abuse of the L-1 Visa (H1-B's are only the tip of the iceberg
http://economyincrisis.org/content/l-visa-programs-brimming-abuses

Professor Norman Matloff's extremely well documented studies:
http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/h1b.html

Re:Quality of Indian H1-Bs have fallen drastically (-1, Flamebait)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43784357)

Are you kidding me? I worked with guptas pre-2000 and if they got any dumber they would forget to breath.

My experience: Brahmen (top caste guptas) are 100% air thieves who do no work and never have.

If you hire dot Indians make sure they are from a lower caste. Find the guy who 'helped' the Brahmen graduate from IIT.

Re:Quality of Indian H1-Bs have fallen drastically (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43784739)

You have absolutely no idea. Guptas are not brahmins. (Nor are they kshatriya descendents of the rulers of the Gupta dynasty). They are descendents of a guy named Aggarsen, who had seventeen sons according to the folk history. Each of them founded a last name. Gupta, Aggrawal, Goel ... etc. Sometimes they are used synonymously. A son of Gupta might call himself Agrawal etc. Some of these names are exogamus groups. (As in a Gupta will not marry a Gupta). But some of them allow endogamy as well. They are traders (vysayas). Not brahmins.

Being dumb, being incompetent in the job but being street smart etc are kind of universal. You find all kinds of people in all castes.

You could be the typical troll who incites a brahmin-non-brahmin brawl in threads in soc.culture.indian. Typically almost all the threads there end in such a brawl. The Indian version of Godwin's law is, once the thread mentions brhamins vs non-brahmins, it is time for sane people to kill the thread and leave.

Re:Quality of Indian H1-Bs have fallen drastically (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43784833)

Don't bother trying to educate a bigot. I hate the H-1B program as much as the next American, but I abhor racism. Also, somebody please mod the GP down to -2.

Re:Quality of Indian H1-Bs have fallen drastically (0)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43785543)

If anything I'm a castist. Brahmen are useless air thieves. All of them.

Re:Quality of Indian H1-Bs have fallen drastically (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43784509)

From India by any chance?

Good Indian engineers were coming before H1B1. The visa allowed people with fake degrees, poor skills and relatives to come to the US. I understand the language and was amazed on the level of technical knowledge the engineers had.

Funny, people from 3rd world countries will lie through their teeth to "save face" on how wonderful it is there and in the mean time they are desperately trying to stay in the US.

Re:Quality of Indian H1-Bs have fallen drastically (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year ago | (#43784815)

I am one of the competent H1-Bs who came in during the 1990s. All immigrants with work permits are H1-Bs. There was no other way for engineers/doctors/nurses to work here. So I think by "before H1B1" you mean before the drastic increase in H1B numbers in the Y2K hype.

People with poor skills are able to lie through their teeth and come in here because the good ones are staying back.

I don't get IIT resumes any more. Now a days I don't even get Region Engineering Colleges, NIT resumes either. It is all no name engineering colleges with unpronounceable (even to me) engineering colleges from godforsaken hinterlands of India. Talk to graduate school admission officers in top American Univs. How much the inflow from IITs to do Masters/PhD has dwindled.

Re:Quality of Indian H1-Bs have fallen drastically (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43784955)

I don't understand the concept that cleaning your OWN toilet is an issue worthy of considering when relocating to a different country. Even so, if you can pass a Google interview or similar, I can assure that the offer you get will allow you to hire someone to come clean your house each week if that's what you want to do with your money (I'm on an H1B and accepted such an offer). A quick internet search shows a full house cleaning is less than 100$. The real issue is that currently H1B's aren't mainly being used for top notch talent in the first place - it's being used to get foreigners here to do grunt work at low wages. It's true that those people probably can't afford much when they get here.

The best and the brightest (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43784249)

Hmm, so H1B's go to the best and the brightest 1st line support engineers that can be replaced by software, really?

Don't think it'll work (1)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about a year ago | (#43784861)

Not that it's technically impossible, but when people have a problem they want to speak to a person and not a machine. Even the simplest problems, like password resets, can be complicated if there's any kind of security policy in place. We have a choice of telecom LEC and CLEC in our area and the CLEC gets out business almost every time (they'd get ALL of our business except, as an organization, we prefer to have some diversification in vendors.) The CLEC gets so much of our business because every time we call them with a circuit problem (which is quite rare anyhow) we get a live person straight away who routes the call for us. No menus, no guessing. The CLEC knows what people expect and they give it to them. That CLEC, by the way, is Cox Communications.

Infosys might want to focus on the implementation of better processes so that fewer level 1 calls are made to begin with.

If you could automate solving IT problems (1)

KeithH (15061) | about a year ago | (#43784917)

then why do we have the problems in the first place?

Seriously, if the problems are that easy to solve, then why aren't they pre-emptively detected and repaired by some of the bloatware installed on enterprise machines these days?

I strongly suspect that this will simply be slightly more sophisticated automated call routing with voice recognition - in otherwords, just a way of delaying the costly, but still inevitable, point where one needs to talk to a human with a clue (i.e. knows where to route the ticket).

As most of us are aware, the standard IT support strategy for the truly meaty problems is simply to delay, delay, delay, until the customer gives up and goes away. Certainly, that's how HP does it (using well-meaning Indian, Malaysian, Costa Rican, and Bulgarian staff who don't have the authority to actually investigate problems).

Chandrashekar Kakal should watch what he says (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about a year ago | (#43784979)

if he doesn't want to be sued for making false statements regarding his company's outlook, since Infosys is a public company and no one, including Infosys is going to do for IT what manufacturing did for the assembly line.

Programs (robots ) can't write bespoke programs or even troubleshoot existing ones better than say LINT and realistically are as far away from that goal as human-level general cognition type AI has always been, which is to say a it's still a mere pipe dream.

It's not like there aren't teams who periodically assemble with some new way of automatically composing programs from, say, existing components, or from VERY descriptive descriptions - little languages- of the program to be written or within some VERY VERY limited domain. In fact, there is always a new run at this being made somewhere and while it's sucked up more than it's fair share of VC fumes , it's never delivered on jack squat.

So if this jackofff is thinking he's making a credible threat to Congress in response to being told he can't dump (crappy, underpaid ) labor on the UIS market, then please, Congress, rest assured this is the very emptiest of all empty threats.

If this slumdog-millionaire style greasy-haired dirtbag is thinking he's making a forward looking statement to investors then he's going to want to avoid a possible shareholder lawsuit by accurately qualify his statement with just how many decades- and that would be no less than ten- before anything like "IT robots" amount to more than

"...push or say 'one'... "

 

Senior Software Robotics Position (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43785523)

Senior Software Robotics Position

Join our dynamic company! Senior developer needed to maintain and troubleshoot our Phlut Systems Software Robotics production server.

Must have 5-10 years experience with Phlut Systems vertical market software robotics package. Familiarity with Bletch Reporter a plus. The ideal candidate will also know Perl, HL7, Lawson S3, and ColdFusion. Must relocate to our offices in Chicago or Buffalo.

Pay: $50,000/year

(I think we all see that this isn't going to help at all.)

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