Improvise this

Secret CIO goes on a rescue mission.

Tags: MalaysiaOutsourcing
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Improvise this
By  Secret CIO Published  April 19, 2010 Arabian Computer News Logo

When last you left us, my staff had deserted me in the heart of the Malaysian jungle for parts unknown. I was left on my own to support the entire IT infrastructure for a remote plantation that was by my estimate, about six million miles from civilisation.

In times like this, I knew what was necessary. I knew what had to be done. I knew that I would have to call upon hitherto unknown reserves of fortitude to survive the arduous journey that lay before me. It would take dedication, vision, skill and absurdly long hours if I was to survive the next six months.

Naturally, I possess none of these qualities. But I did emerge from a troubled childhood with a degree in advanced cunning and I immediately employed it to full effect. Normally, what I’d do in a situation like this would be to get somebody else to do my dirty work for me, and then put my feet up for about six months.  I was doing outsourcing way before the term even became well known – it was just better-known as “getting a quick promotion”.

But here, deep within the Malaysian jungle, I was actually in a bit of a tight spot. There was no IT department to turn to, no eager beaver young employee who might be tempted to engage in some low-level mind-numbing grunt work for the promise of a fat bonus and some extended vacation. I had some spare engineers to work with and the occasional cleaner who’d finished sweeping up around the lavatories, but that was it in terms of “resources”. Unfortunately, my work looking after the various IT bits was far too complex to be taught to a “lavatory technician” over a single Easter weekend.

Nevertheless, the word “impossible” does not exist in my tattered copy of the Oxford dictionary. After spending a few days in the camp, I quickly realised that the vast majority of the workers in the camp did fairly repetitive, low-paid jobs day in, day out – pushing buttons, shuffling papers and packing goods into lorries for transit back to Kuala Lumpur. The engineers, on the other hand, were grossly overpaid layabouts, sipping tea all day while looking for any excuse to skive off from their desks to have a quick smoke.

Both the labour workforce and the engineers had one thing in common once work was done for the day – tons and tons of free time. Trapped as they were on the camp grounds, everyone was desperate for entertainment and forbidden substances of any kind. Magazines and DVDs were circulated endlessly. At one point, people were charging up to 15$ to read some boring enterprise IT magazine called ACN.

I smelled a business opportunity. Where’s there’s frustration, there’s money to be made. Quickly, I cobbled together a loose network of contacts and began – well, I can’t really reveal what I did in a family publication. Suffice to say, by the end of the week, I was flush with cash. That didn’t really help my problem of having far, far too much work to do, but then that wasn’t really the point of this whole exercise.

What I had found, bizarrely, was that the more evil and depraved I became with finding ways to make money out of the camp’s captive work force, the more energy I had to work. It was astonishing to behold. Suddenly, I was working 18-hour days, churning out finished infrastructure at a furious rate. Literally a one-man outsourcing team, my appetite for projects was driven by a burning desire to make pots of money on the side. To put things into perspective – by the close of my first 30 days, I had finished three months worth of projects.

Head office were so impressed – and not to mention, surprised – that they actually took the time to courier down a templated letter of recommendation (addressed to my assistant) and an offer to take two weeks off. All this gratitude pouring in was too much for me to take. I knew I had to return to some den of inequity to renew my utter lack of faith in humanity.

I had to get back to Dubai.

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