The ‘relentless parade of new technology’ whipping up today’s data deluge adds to modern complexity. According to IBM, 2.5 quintillion (a billion billion) bytes of data are generated every day. The World Economic Forum blog put this into perspective - we are now ‘producing the same amount of data every 10 minutes as was produced in the last 5,000 years. McKinsey’s Global Institute argues this wave is still surging, as high-potential technologies ‘could have a potential economic impact between $14-33 trillion a year in 2025 - equal to almost half the global economy today.
Against this confusing backdrop executives must continue to contain increasing risks and costs and implement the right decisions that drive change to remain competitive. Yet, organisation’s whose strategies to thrive (or just survive) through efficiencies alone end up sailing ‘too close to the wind’ - risking the whip-end of ‘black swan’ events as, in a tightly-coupled world, they become ‘as weak as the weakest link in their chain.’
Now, as never before, executives put the attraction (and retention) of key skill central to their strategies for successfully navigating a highly volatile world. Yet, despite technological advances remaking the world anew ever more rapidly, workforce productivity growth remains stubbornly stagnant. Since 2005, overall Eurozone productivity has increased just 3% (and only 13% since 1995). Even in America since 2010 it’s been a measly 0.3% per year (compared to 1.5% over the previous 20). This raises the question - are organisations misusing technology advances and people’s skills?
Modern knowledge workers spend half the week on email; looking for or gathering information as tools are rarely made to fit the human. The success of Atos - a French IT-service supplier - to become a ‘zero-email’ company this year by integrating social-networking platforms for natural communication may be one the most significant - if less heralded - organisational developments of 2014.
Organisations are currently poorly structured to exploit new information, ideas and opportunities. Technology development often outstrips our evolutionary ability to ‘differentiate useful information from noise.’ This explains why even the printing press took ‘330 years and a million dead in battlefields for the advantages to take hold.’ How long will it take the modern organisation to adapt?