Solow’s Paradox (A.K.A. The Productivity Paradox) describes the fact that productivity at work does not match the rate of technological innovation, not even close. This month, one IDG report, Unlocking Value in the Tech/Human Relationship: A New Framework for Multiplying Productivity through Technology; IDG Enterprise cites Moore’s Law, a predictive model created by Intel Cofounder Gordon Moore, which states that computing power, based on the size and density of transistors, will roughly double every year. In the U.S., worker productivity grows at a mere 3% annually, which is a differential of approximately 94%. Productivity is not keeping pace.
There are some pertinent and fairly obvious reasons that explain this paradox. First off, if we measure all technological innovation, as reported, and compare it only to worker productivity, we are measuring some apples to the oranges. Not all tech-innovations are related to on-the-job productivity. In fact, having the latest gadgetry, like a smartphone or tablet, could quite reasonably decrease our productivity at work. These new gadgets may make socializing convenient and efficient, but they tend to distract us from our work, as a rule.
Next, there is a big disparity between tech-innovators and IT workers, and your average business user. This often means the right tools are not procures for the right employees at the right time.
Given the right tools at the right time, the right training may still be missing from the equation. One could go on with a list of similar explications; but I will stop here. The IT to workforce tech-knowledge gap is likely a primary reason for the persistence of Solow’s Paradox.
Next, there is the fact that the latest technology may come to market long before it makes it into business users’ hands. The tempos of innovation and their on-the-ground application are out of synch.
Finally, to round out my number of explanation to an even four, most of us do not have extra hours in the day to educate ourselves about innovative technology. I would also wager that close to none of the U.S. workforce takes time out of their weekends and evenings to search and research new technology to use at work. We do not have enough time in a day to become experts on technological innovation.
There is too much to know in the modern world, on top of all that underlies technology, in the natural world. Once we could aspire to become giants of knowledge. With the rise of science, we had to learn to “stand on the shoulders of giants” [Sir Isaac Newton] and use their leverage to see into the unknown distance.
Today, technological growth is exponential. We will not all fit onto the backs and shoulders of the old giants; and those who do will not have the time or chance to disembark for the shore of the digital age. Without taller giants, and more of them, we can no longer stand on their shoulders. We must split up the expertise and share our abilities amongst ourselves.