Bleeding Edge

by Dennis Yang

Filed Under:

Next In Line To Be Offshored To India? Butlers and Personal Assistants.

from the it's-a-small-small-world dept

The world-shrinking Internet has enabled many companies to utilize offshore employees for everything from computer programming to customer service, with the promise a great cost savings (which actually, at the end of the day, turn out to not be that much). Well, now corporations don't have to be the only ones capitalizing on this trend -- you can now hire your own personal assistant or homework tutor in India. For fractions of what you would normally pay for US-based help, your Bangalore butler can help make travel arrangements, book dinner reservations, and help coordinate your busy schedule. Or, if your child is having trouble with their math homework, hire a remote tutor to help them out. Instead of paying $30 an hour for a local tutor, the offshore services charge $99 a month for as many 45-minute tutoring sessions that you want to arrange. The price savings is there, but it is still questionable whether or not these services will draw enough demand to sustain themselves. TutorVista currently has 10,000 subscribers, which sounds impressive until we recall that in 2005, 20,000 students were estimated to be using Indian tutors. Furthermore, it is unclear whether the economies of scale will apply to consumer services -- whereas offshoring corporate services like customer service lends itself to large, multi-million dollar contracts, consumer services are sold to one individual at a time for a few hundred dollars. For the new personal assistant services, the future is murky at best. While most corporate offshoring projects are driven by cost savings, personal assistant services are a new market, now made available through falling prices. Personal assistants once only affordable for Devil Wears Prada-like executives would now be affordable to middle managers. However, since it is a new market, a considerable amount of marketing must be done to even let people know that these services exist. And, of course, with these remote assistants halfway around the world, you still have to make your own coffee.

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  • icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), 2 Nov 2007 @ 3:58am


    Butlers? I know that the technology is advancing rapidly, but I don't think I'd want an Indian butler answering my door for me, and I don't think that's feasible to do remotely just yet.
    Weekend CHL Classes in north Dallas

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2007 @ 4:50am

    "Personal assistants once only affordable for Devil Wears Prada-like executives would now be affordable to middle managers."


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dazcon5, 2 Nov 2007 @ 6:01am

    What you pay for get what you pay for...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dustin Tarditi, 2 Nov 2007 @ 6:18am

    That word you keep using... I do not think it mean

    Butler (N) "The head servant in a household who is usually in charge of food service, the care of silverware, and the deportment of the other servants." []

    I think you mean more like a concierge...
    Concierge (n) "A staff member of a hotel or apartment complex who assists guests or residents, as by handling the storage of luggage, taking and delivering messages, and making reservations for tours." []

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thom, 2 Nov 2007 @ 6:50am

    Soon to be in Line CEOs

    Soon big business will realize they've exported all but the managment jobs and some bright CEO will realize the only way he can increase profits and get an ENORMOUS bonus will be to offshore all the lower managment. It'll work well since most managment is full of inept drones and the few that aren't can easily be offshored to another nation's finest for a fraction of current cost. Then the tide will turn and everyone will realize what a con job CEOs have been pulling on us for years, that managment is the real unskilled labor, and all the CEOs will be offshored. Finally all will be well and we'll start paying people what they're worth - anyone willing to do a job you wouldn't do will make more than you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The Man, 2 Nov 2007 @ 8:17am

    I did not know about this, now I am excited.

    I thought it was going to cost me Thousands of dollars to train my kid to work at 7-11. Now I find out that it will only cost a fraction of that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Nov 2007 @ 9:36am

    It's been around for a while...

    ... I know several people who've been using India-based PA's for at least 5 years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    chris (profile), 2 Nov 2007 @ 9:51am

    you can't offshore trust

    the thing with personal assistants is that the position requires trust since so much of your personal information has to be entrusted to your assistant.

    the reason personal assistants are so expensive is because they have to be trusted, that means a clean background check, a good work history, proven reliability... in other words, a pedigree.

    any foreigner with a pedigree decent enough to be trusted with your personal information has already immigrated to the U.S. so why look overseas? unless you are only interested in the ones who weren't good enough to make it here in the first place.

    would you trust a faceless email or disembodied voice on the phone with all of your personal details? how do you verify the pedigree of a person in another country? does india have social security numbers and better business bureaus?

    also, assuming that you work with just one person and not some agency service, how do you know what that person is doing with your information since you can't see them ever?

    how does reputation work overseas? do foreign cultures understand american values like pedigree?

    how do you know that a person's drug test results aren't fake if you have never seen the screening service's operation for yourself? for all you know it's a guy with a PO box that's next door to a kinko's. local resources are cheap and easy to verify.

    trust, reliability, and reputation are old fashioned american qualities that you just can't quantify without seeing a person firsthand and getting to know them. that's why you interview job candidates in person. it's expensive to get to know someone that way when there is an ocean between you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    alex, 2 Nov 2007 @ 11:48am


    What is not apparent in the article is obvious in the photo of a woman sitting on the floor holding her child). Parents and students take note. This is not about "outsourcing" your child's education-- this is about carefully seeking an engaged tutor who is going to provide the best help possible. Tutoring does not have been outsourced. Contrary to popular belief, there tons of qualified, US- based tutors that are eager to help. It is just that the Indian firms have been among the most aggressive in moving into the online space. If you are looking online tutoring from tutors that are closer to the U.S. experience, check out Most of the tutors are current students or graduates of top US schools like Penn, Stanford and Harvard. You don't have to go overseas to get help with homework.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • Tutors are only a community college away

    Many tutors are available right in your own town. Just call the local college and you will be directed to an affordable student who needs some extra money while they are in college.

    Also in the Los Angeles area, they have free tutors available on the Internet through the school district. It also broadcasts on the local TV station if you need help and do not have a computer so you can phone in for help.

    I think this is going to gain popularity across the US.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    * Miss Universe, 2 Nov 2007 @ 8:05pm

    Good idea for a SOHO or One Man Office

    This has good potential to develop into a remote secretary or concierge to some degree.

    You can use this service to take the burden off a cash strapped biz - or to assist your Admin Assn't in a two person office.

    Ironically, even Personal Assistants can offload some duties to a remote Assistant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    personal assistant services, 13 Oct 2010 @ 7:35am

    Personal Assistant

    That is really kind of a sad thing to hear. I know a lot of great people that are in the personal assistant industry that do a great job, and deserve the pay that they receive. I can understand that a lot of people are really trying to save money and be as frugal as they can but I just haven't really seen all of the benefit yet of outsourcing to India for this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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