In 1965, a young engineer named Gordon Moore made the simple prediction that the number of transistors that would fit in on chip would double every eighteen months. And wouldn’t you know it, that prediction, now known as “Moore’s Law” to engineers, is still holding true.
In fact, according to Kevin Kruse, writing in Chief Learning Officer magazine, Moore was recently interviewed and predicted that this trend would continue until at least 2017.
Let’s also take into account that wireless Internet (WiFi) is becoming commonplace, and the fact that our mobile phones, cameras, music players, Palm Pilots, and who knows what else are all being rolled into one, compact unit.
Then tack on the prediction that the marketplace is going to see more electronic consumer product introductions in the next five years than we’ve seen in the last twenty.
Is it starting to get a little overwhelming?
Although some are working hard to stay on top of the technology learning curve, people in all industries are feeling the groundswell of technology starting to swallow them up. And believe it or not, we’re still just at the beginning.
In 2000, Delta Airlines and the Ford Motor Company took a great step towards keeping their employees on the cutting edge by purchasing personal computers for every employee. Yes – for home use! The logic was that if these employees stayed current with the technological edge, they would bring an edge to the workplace, too. I must say that I agree with the logic. People need to be up on technology, or before too long they’ll be left behind.
Back to the future: Moore’s Law is proving true. It’s predicted that in ten years a PC will come with 8 Gigabytes of RAM, 1.8 Terabytes of storage, and cost only $150. At that price, what company wouldn’t buy a computer for every employee? But the paradox is this: Those numbers are still ten years away, and if a company waits that long to start investing in technological education for its employees, it won’t be around to do so.
In addition to workflow analysis, workforce analysis, and workspace analysis, we must also make room on our calendars for work technology analysis. What are the cutting edge practices being used in the industry today? What is coming down the pike? It may seem like status quo business is fine, but I can point to many businesses that no longer exist because they ignored advances in technology.
For example, Henry is a friend of mine who retired a few years ago from a factory in Chicago. The factory had been in the same spot for sixty years, founded by “the old man” and now run by the “the son.” About 100 people worked there, punching time clocks and doing things pretty much the same way they did when the factory opened. When someone in management suggested they look at making improvements, they hired a guy named Bill to update things. But Bill’s forward thinking was too much for the status quo management, and before long, Bill was let go. Larry, a company man, took his place.
Larry made “the son” happy, but technological advances were not on his “urgent” list. After all, Larry liked his job and didn’t want to follow Bill’s footsteps out the door.
When my friend Henry went back to visit his friends last summer, the factory was boarded up. He told me that he stood there in shock, just staring at the building. A few visits to old friends gave him the answer: The company just couldn’t compete anymore and make a profit.
I share this story in hopes of reaching people who may have a “status quo” mentality. I meet a lot of “status quo” people whose mantra is the same: “I’ve been doing it this way for 20 years and getting along fine up to now – why change?”
The answer is take one look at that boarded-up factory.
Change is not comfortable, but since Moore made a prediction in 1965, I’ll make a prediction today: The discomfort a company (or a person) feels from keeping up with technology is a lot more tolerable than the future discomfort of ignoring it.