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Technology - Innovation and Productivity?

With all the technical advances we've made, where is all the corresponding productivity?

I'm not talking about a minor increase in productivity, I am talking about a significant increase given the miriad of advancements over the past 5 years.

Here a short list of my top-of-mind technical advancements: VOIP, mobility, Web 2.0 capabilities, collaboration capabilities, IM, Facebook, video, YouTube, cell phone capabilities, iPhone and all the iPhone apps, wireless and wi-fi, SaaS, WebEx, blogging, Twitter, etc.

Are we just behind in adopting these new capabilities? Are we generationally challenged and the productivity is latent until the next generation grows up? Have we really not cracked the code on how to leverage these and therefore the value isn't fully tapped? Are the technologies lacking integration and therefore we are not getting a positive compounding effect on productivity?

Ask yourself - Is your life easier? Do you have more 'quality time' with family and friends thanks to advancements in technology? Have you achieved a better work-life balance? Are you less stressed? Are you less over-worked?

Should that be part of the promise of advancements in technology?

Now ask yourself - Are you more dependent on technology? What happens when you lose internet connectivity? What happens when your laptop/PC does not work? What happens when you accidently misplace your cell phone or leave it at home when you go to work? What happens when you cannot check Facebook/Myspace?

I would venture to say that your gut reaction to the first set of "is your life easier?" questions is a mix of "no", "not really" and "not at all". The second set of questions related to "are you more dependent on technology?" would illicit responses like "absolutely", "I am lost without internet connectivity" and "my productivity goes to zero when I dont have my laptop/PC."

Seems like a paradox - "technology doesn't help but I cannot live without it". Possibly we under-appreciate what we can do thanks to new technology advancements. Possibly we appreciate it on day 1 and then expect it on day 2 so we absorb the capability but rapidly forget that we didnt have the capability until very recently. Possibly we do actually save time but we just re-fill that time with more work instead of time with family/friends or focusing on ourselves.

Certainly I would argue that we are more efficient than ever before with the technology at our disposal - one simple example is that it is easier to communicate with cell phones, texting and paging. So technology is definitely helping us be more efficient - efficiency must equate to productivity, correct? So technology is increasing our productivity.

Maybe it's unfair to expect that an increase in our productivity is good for us - maybe the majority of productivity improvements benefit our workplace? Maybe increased productivity just means packing more work into less time? On the other hand, if our businesses are more productive and therefore more competitive, isn't that good for us in that it helps us keep (maybe not create) jobs?


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