Productivity output is at its lowest point in thirty years. What are the causes of this decline? Can smart technology provide a solution to this weakening productivity rate?
Why the Decline?
The US Government’s official labor productivity measure for 2011-2015 shows that the average American worker’s work output has dropped to the lowest it has been since the the five year time period 1972-1977. Robert Gordon of Northwestern University theorizes that this drop in productivity has nothing to do with workers slacking off on social media. Instead, Gordon told The Atlantic the drop is a direct result of businesses having outgrown the status-quo technologies that are fixtures in the average workplace. Gordon said:
“We have an $18 trillion economy. Most of it is operating by the same business methods and procedures that have been in place for at least 10 years.”
Gordon’s research charts periods of increased productivity to technological advancements that have revolutionized the ways in which we conduct business. For instance, the spike in the 1980s and 1990s he attributes to the rise of information technology. Moving away from pen-and-paper, typewriters and physical records and relying more on personal computers, spreadsheets and word processors.But Gordon goes on to express that recent innovations are not being so readily adopted. “In much of the economy, daily practices of business methods are not being influenced by the recent innovations.” Businesses are being reticent to adopt new technological advances.
Are We Holding Ourselves Back?
This corresponds with a study done by 8×8 and the Institute of Directors, which exposed that 67% of senior business leaders and middle managers are “too wary of adopting technology” and that 45% “hold back technology for reasons of self preservation”. Gordon’s study backs up this finding stating “In much of the economy, daily practices of business methods are not being influenced by the recent innovations.” Further evidence that managers are more reticent to adopt new technological advances than during prior technology advances.It’s now more important than ever for businesses to integrate smarter, more automated solutions in to their current operating strategies such as smart apps, artificial intelligence, chatbots and other automated assistants.
Escaping the Slump
Over the past few years, there have been an increasing number of intelligent and smart apps for businesses to use to boost productivity and gain competitive advantages. For example, the smart calendar from Sunrise (now integrated in to Microsoft Outlook) intelligently assists you with your day by looking at your appointments and augmenting them with time saving information and recommendations. Salesforce.com’s “Einstein” does the leg work of pre-qualifying leads to yield both time savings and more sales. Another example is Amy from x.ai. Amy is a smart assistant who eliminates the time and hassle of finding common meeting times by doing so for you simply over email. Our app, TeamworkIQ, automates tracking and managing for everything from task lists to workflow processes. Just type up who needs to do what and TeamworkIQ coordinates the rest. TeamworkIQ is powered by a smart engine that does much of the work of a project manager or process coordinator, thus eliminating time wasted just keeping track of who is doing what.Software has always automated work that people could otherwise do. However this new generation of smart apps is doing so with increased intelligence and expanding the types of things which computers can now do instantly and in lieu of costly, error prone human labor. Smart apps free up time to allow more valuable work to be done more productivity.