Yahoo Allocates Some Resources to Rural America


Just last week I highlighted an article in which several Booz & Company analysts pointed out that backshoring is part of an overall maturation of the outsourcing industry, in which companies now make multiple choices about the best places to do specific tasks -- onshore, nearshore or offshore -- rather than engaging in broader, more encompassing relationships with services providers.


They cited a recent Duke University study that found three-quarters of U.S. companies are planning to offshore more of their customer-service operations. So it's pretty significant news when a marquee company opts not to do so. Yahoo recently joined those ranks when it agreed to open a customer service center initially employing 50 in the Omaha, Neb., area.


It's also opening a $100 million data center in La Vista, Neb. Yahoo seems to have more company in its decision to locate its facility there. As I wrote back in May, a growing interest in cloud computing is inspiring companies eager to cash in on it, including Microsoft and Google, to build humongous data centers in out-of-the-way areas. Some rural areas are beefing up their infrastructures and creating tax incentives specifically hoping to attract this kind of investment -- though the returns may not be quite as large as they hope.


Interestingly, an Associated Press story quotes a Yahoo executive as saying the data center jobs couldn't be outsourced. That may come as a shock to all of the services providers offering to do exactly that.


In addition to large investments like data centers, some rural U.S. communities are trying to woo tech professionals whose jobs allow them to work from virtually anywhere, playing up benefits such as low cost of living and a relatively stress-free atmosphere.


That ties in with another of my recent posts, in which I shared some ideas for minimizing layoffs. One of them was shuttering at least some offices and allowing employees to telework instead. It's not clear whether that was a realistic option for the beleaguered Yahoo, which closed out a disappointing quarter by announcing it would slice 1,500 jobs, some 10 percent of its workforce, as part of a larger plan to shed $400 million in costs.