H-1B Visa Controversy Might Fade Away
H-1B visas that enable highly skilled workers to move to the United States are a controversial subject both inside and out of the channel. Large vendors and IT services providers tended to proportionally benefit from their existence the most. In fact, many regional IT services providers complain that some global systems integrators (GSIs) and vendors abuse the H-1B visa program to lower their costs in a way that makes the IT services playing field unlevel.
Of course, with immigration being such a hot-button issue in the latest presidential campaign, the expectation is that the new Trump administration will either reform or eliminate the H-1B visa program. That may not be the most popular move in some IT circles, but there are plenty of solution providers that are not big fans of the program.
GSIs, in particular, have been cited for using H1-B visas to bring workers from places like India to lower their costs in a way that rival solution providers find difficult to match. Many of those GSIs have already responded to that hue and cry by opening more offices in the United States that are staffed by IT workers who are U.S. citizens.
However, as the new Trump administration prepares to take office, the feelings of many solution providers in the channel are still raw.
CP Gurnani, managing director and CEO of Tech Mahindra, a GSI-based in India, said he's not concerned about potential H1-B visa issues that might arise after president-elect Trump is inaugurated. The reason for that is not that Trump isn't serious about immigration issues. It's that the nature of customer contracts is fundamentally changing.
Instead of contracting for only IT services, Gurnani explained, customers are now more focused on the actual business outcome. As such, they are essentially outsourcing entire business processes more than ever.
In that context, the customer doesn't really care—or even know—how and where the IT processing associated with that task gets executed. All they want to know is whether it was executed to their satisfaction.
That may not provide much comfort to solution providers that have taken issue with the H1-B visa program. But the fact remains that the way organizations want to engage with IT services providers is changing in this age of globalization.
There are still plenty of opportunities to deliver IT services, but the profit margins derived from delivering those services are under continuous pressure. As such, many solution providers in the coming year are going to need to rethink not only how they deliver those IT services, but also the type of relationship they want to have with their customers.
Mike Vizard, a Channel Insider contributor, has more than 25 years of experience covering IT issues in a career that includes serving as Director of Strategic Content and Editorial Director for Ziff Davis Enterprise.