15 turning points in tech history

Difficult decisions and paths not taken -- here are the 15 pivotal moments that have shaped today's high-tech landscape

Outsourcing goes global

As the year 2000 approached, US companies saw the Y2K problem as a threat to their software. What they didn't anticipate was the impact it would have on the American workforce.

Faced with a shortage of hands to address the Y2K crisis, IT departments looked abroad for answers. They found an untapped gold mine. The rise of the Internet, coupled with social and economic reforms, had fostered a veritable army of highly skilled workers in the developing world.

Indian companies, including Infosys and Wipro, were among the first to popularize offshore IT outsourcing, but companies in Russia, Eastern Europe, China, and elsewhere would soon follow. Meanwhile, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1990 had created the H-1B visa program, which made it easier for US companies to import foreign workers.

Today the Y2K problem may be long behind us, but these trends show no sign of slowing. As more and more countries awaken to the Internet economy, IT workers must struggle to stay competitive in an increasingly flat world.

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Neil McAllister

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