« Should I Join an Accelerator? | Main | Don't Forget the "Tech" in "AdTech" »

June 10, 2013

The Productivity Paradox

Think about all of the amazing technology innovation that has impacted businesses over the last three years.  Since 2011, we have seen an explosion in cloud computing, in mobile, in technology-enabled business services and in globalization.  All of us feel more productive as professionals and our businesses feel more productive instutionally.  As a nation, the US must be cranking in productivity.  Killing it -- particularly after rebounding from a recession, right?

Now look at the latest US productivity statistics (Q1 was just released last week):

  • Q1 2013:  0.5% (annualized)
  • 2012:  0.7%
  • 2011:  0.6%

In other words, despite three years of amazing innovation and growth, we don't seem to be gaining in productivity.  What's going on?  

In 1986, observing a similar phenomenon on the heels of the PC revolution, MIT Economist Robert Solow quipped:  "You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics."

Those of us that are immersed in the innovation economy may find this hard to believe, but we are not, as a whole, actually more productive when we are in the midst of an innovation cycle boom.  New technologies take time to absorb, refine and make mainstream.  Computer software can be reprogrammed quickly.  Humans can't.  

Forrester captured this phenomenon nicely in a chart they produced a number of years ago predicting "the next big thing" in computing:

Forrester chart

We can't imagine a world without broadband wireless, iPhone 5s, iPads and the cloud.  But we've got a lot of work to do to absorb these amazing technologies and make us all more productive as a whole.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83424781853ef0192aafbcea7970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Productivity Paradox:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Social Media


Portfolio Companies