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Sturges Global

Proving code is a universal.

When Chicago-based Sturges Global says it’s worldwide, you can believe it. The custom software and Web development company has programmers from India to Eastern Europe, coding at a frantic pace for places like the Chicago Aquarium, Quest Diagnostics, and Legend Wireless. President and CEO Scott Sturges chats about wireless, outsourcing, and Russian technologists.

How did Sturges Global get started?

At a business meeting in Kiev, I met a guy who happened to own a start-up information technology firm that was growing very fast. He was one of the brightest people I have ever met, and I was fortunate to become a business partner with him. Our company has grown from 10 employees in 1999 to 65 employees today, and we are still growing rapidly. We have been able to grow in the down economy because we developed two excellent offices in Eastern Europe and maintain low overhead because the locations we are in are so affordable.

How did you become interested in outsourcing your work to other countries?

In college I studied Russian culture and business courses, and I began to realize that the Russian economy was a disaster. The population was one of the lowest-paid, highest educated, underworked, and unappreciated populations in the world. It always amazed me, ever since I was in grade school, how this poor country with no money and so many problems could be so successful in the field of technology.

You do a lot of outsourcing to the health care sector; why the focus on that industry?

It’s growing so rapidly, and budgets are always tight, so this is where we can really make ourselves useful. The health care industry is playing catch-up as far as wireless technology is concerned, and we see a great opportunity to step in and take the lead here. We plan to do more projects for wireless applications, such as the Palm, Tablet PC, and laptops.

How will wireless fit into your overall strategy?

We see wireless development being a large part of our future, but we aren’t focusing all our energy there yet. We do have a distinct advantage in this area because we have most of our programming teams in Eastern Europe. They are very familiar with developing solutions for handheld platforms because Europeans utilize all the functions of the cell phone far more than we Americans do. This is because telephone costs are generally more expensive in Europe, and these people have been forced to find more cost-effective ways to communicate. So there are tons of applications, like SMS, being developed to enable communication without actually having to talk to someone. I don’t foresee the United States adopting the wireless data capabilities to the degree that other parts of the world have done.

Why do you think more development work is heading out of the United States?

Look at General Electric, the largest, most successful company in the world. It has an enormous labor force outside of America, and the company is moving more and more of its operations overseas because of the prohibitive labor costs. No offense to my American employees, but I see the software and information technology industry moving in this direction rather rapidly. I am glad to already be at the head of the pack, and I think the hardest part is all behind us now.

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