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Home » Articles » History of outsourcing: From the 18th century to the modern times

History of outsourcing: From the 18th century to the modern times

History of outsourcing From the 18th century to the modern times

The history of outsourcing has always been a fascinating subject for industry professionals that want a deeper understanding of the practice itself.

The practice has brought on jobs and opportunities for millions of people, carving the way to a brighter future. One of the goals of the practice has always been focused on cutting back costs for companies, no matter how small or big it is.

The history of outsourcing has come a long way. Let’s take a look at how much the industry has grown since its early days and what awaits in the future.

The early years of the history of outsourcing

Like any other concept, the real starting point of outsourcing is swimming in murky waters. 

The history of outsourcing dates back to when US companies in the industrial sector started to source out certain parts of their operations. 

Outsourcing first took shape during the 18th-century Industrial Revolution, when the new age transformed the way factories operated and sourced labor and raw materials. American factories were no longer limited to their geographical location. 

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The early years of the history of outsourcing

Historically, the US would outsource and import raw materials from India. These imported inexpensive raw materials would be processed in Scotland. Therefore, making the goods was cheaper while maintaining the quality.

Factories outsourced their manufacturing activities to cut labor costs but still maintain the quality of their products.

Businesses were quick to pick up and since then, the concept of outsourcing has evolved to keep up with the everchanging demands of modern times. The act of external sourcing has paved the way for many other projects that utilize the assistance of external service providers.

The history of modern outsourcing

The history of modern outsourcing as we know it started between the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. In fact, the practice wasn’t a legitimate business idea up until 1989, according to sources. 

Businesses started offering services to other organizations and fulfilling the promise of more labor power at a low cost. Since then, different services such as telemarketing, telesales, and even cold calling were offered as outsourced services.

More so, with the technological advancements, more types of outsourced services popped out.

From recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) to digital marketing, services are offered by numerous outsourcing companies to their client list—hoping to catch a deal with other businesses.

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Outsourcing services were proven to be effective. In fact, according to Statista, the outsourcing industry grew to $92.5 billion in 2019.

The history of modern outsourcing

The challenges in the history of outsourcing

From creating more jobs to making companies work with one another, outsourcing activities made the professional world more connected.

The digital age would never have been the same if not for the practice of outsourcing. However, there are still people who would doubt the benefits of outsourcing. Like any other business concept, it has its own disadvantages.

Employees from smaller companies would complain about outsourced workers “stealing” their jobs. Meanwhile, some think that globalization, empowered by outsourcing, has impacted local businesses.

While some claims may ring true, many of these popular misconceptions have been proven untrue, and it is a fact that the advantages of outsourcing outweigh its disadvantages. 

That said, many companies and individuals are working together to combat any of the negative effects of outsourcing.

Since the practice has been deeply ingrained in our society, big changes such as reformation would greatly affect businesses and their employees.

The challenges in the history of outsourcing

How the history of outsourcing impacted industries in the 21st century

Since its establishment, the practice of outsourcing impacted and affected so many industries—and even people’s lives. 

Tech industry

One of the biggest and most prolific industries to ever adopt the practice is the tech sector. From ideation to manufacturing, it seems like no tech company hasn’t been touched by outsourcing.

One example of this is the history of outsourcing with Apple Inc. The tech giant outsourced its manufacturing activities to China and its customer service department to India.

Like Apple, tech-enabled companies and service providers are working hand in hand to provide and offer goods and services that will make everyone’s lives just a little bit easier.

From AI assistants to call center support, companies often rely on outsourcing partners to get the job done.

These companies have made an impact so big that other industries rely on them in order to get their products and services across the world. Individuals rely on those services to make their daily lives easier and more convenient.

How the history of outsourcing impacted industries in the 21st century

Healthcare industry

The healthcare industry is one of the busiest industries ever to exist. It’s not a surprise that they would adopt the practice as a business strategy that allows them to focus more.

From medical billing to insurance processing, the functions that aided the healthcare industry are part of the history of outsourcing. If it weren’t for external service providers, the sector would not become as efficient as it is today.

The influx of demand for quality healthcare makes partner companies even more dedicated to coming up with systems to push its development further. Experts are continuously working hard to come up with the next generation of ideas.

Finance industry

One of the most important and fastest-growing industries right now is the finance industry, especially the banking sector, where millions of people are using financial services all at once.

Banking institutions often outsource their software development and customer service departments to external service providers.

Many business process outsourcing companies that focus on banking have helped financial institutions develop a more rigid and more secure environment. 

One of the benefits that outsourcing provides is to ensure that banking systems are secure and safeguarded from malicious attacks, even if the partner company is offsite.

How the history of outsourcing impacted industries in the 21st century

The future of the outsourcing industry

The impact of outsourcing on various businesses across different practices has been widespread, to say the least. 

Contrary to popular belief, the public is in charge of the trends—customer satisfaction is one of the biggest factors when it comes to doing business with people.

In the age of information and communication, we still have to think about having sustainable business models that will allow future generations to enjoy the advantages of outsourcing. This concept is highly regarded as a flexible model—ready to cater to any business from any sector.

Modern industries, led by innovators and business leaders, will rewrite the history of outsourcing as we know it. And future generations will look back at the accomplishments of today.

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Outsource Accelerator is the trusted source of independent information, advisory and expert implementation of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

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Outsource Accelerator offers the world’s leading aggregator marketplace for outsourcing. It specifically provides the conduit between world-leading outsourcing suppliers and the businesses – clients – across the globe.

The Outsource Accelerator website has over 5,000 articles, 450+ podcast episodes, and a comprehensive directory with 3,900+ BPO companies… all designed to make it easier for clients to learn about – and engage with – outsourcing.

About Derek Gallimore

Derek Gallimore has been in business for 20 years, outsourcing for over eight years, and has been living in Manila (the heart of global outsourcing) since 2014. Derek is the founder and CEO of Outsource Accelerator, and is regarded as a leading expert on all things outsourcing.

“Excellent service for outsourcing advice and expertise for my business.”

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