Monday, June 17, 2013

Disruptive technologies

We've all seen forecasts and predictions in print and in video of coming revolutions (or aggressive evolution) in living and working (and playing) to be brought by advancing technology.

However, I was struck by a forecast in this 13-page presentation from McKinsey & Co that upwards of 140M jobs will be driven out of the world economy by productivity.

Wow! That's profound. In the US, the total non-farm payroll is about 134M, so McK is talking about improving productivity worldwide by a factor equal to the whole US non-farm workforce. OMG

Of course, these disruptive technologies will bring on hundreds of millions of replacement jobs, even new industries that do not exist. And that is where we come in: if you look at the project and project management implications of the relevant technologies and the scope of the efforts, our industry has a lot to do over the next 20 years.

Of course, as you look at the report pages, keep in mind you are looking at business value, not project cost. Hopefully, the project cost will be much less. Afterall:
The cost of a project is not its value. A successful project is a project that is a value-multiplier on cost.

Erik Brynjolfsson has one of the many TED talks on this point about technologies, productivity, and employment. He poses a grand challenge: "Learn to race with the machine" (instead of racing against the machine) He talks about the great decouplings: productivity from employment, and wealth from work. But, he ends with this idea: Technology is not destiny

Check out these books I've written in the library at Square Peg Consulting