Coping with H-1B limits: Distribute your talent instead

Whatever you may think of the limits put on H-1B work visas for U.S. jobs, it’ll likely be the law of the land for the next four to eight years, so enterprises that use high technology need to adapt. My advice: Distribute your technology talent globally, with help from the power of cloud computing and other technologies.

It was not so long ago that you had to be physically near the systems to build and maintain them. These days, however, systems are pervasive, and your location has little impact on your ability to design, build, deploy, and operate business systems.

What puzzles me is the number of enterprises that have systems running all over the world, thanks to cloud computing, but that require people to be located in the corporate offices. My advice, again: Get good at distributing your people, all over the world if needed, like we’re getting good at distributing IT resources, thanks to the cloud.

Get good at distribution: data, development, processes, applications, and yes, people. I routinely run teams that are multinational, and the use of cloud computing becomes the common thread that allows distributed teams to be successful. In fact, I believe they’re more successful in such cloud-connected teams than if you made them show up to an official corporate cubicle each day.

There are other benefits in addition to using talent wherever it happens to be. If being green is a goal, forcing people to sit in, say, Highway 101 traffic in Silicon Valley undermines that effort. Moreover (and most important), those two or more hours a day could be used much more productively.

When I give such advice, I get pushback concerning legal issues around use of labor, particularly the ability to monitor and evaluate employees. In other words, it’s really about control.

But the bottom line is if you can trust your applications and data to run outside your walls as they do in the cloud, you should easily be able figure out how to gain the same trust for your people.