With the recent explosions in cloud computing and mobile services it seems that the US is innovating at a whirlwind pace, introducing new and better technologies every day that make our jobs easier and our work more efficient. Though the former is certainly true, the latter may not be the case. Yesterday in VentureBeat Jeff Bussgang wrote about the productivity paradox, or the fact that, while innovation is growing, the country’s productivity isn’t. How can this be?
Over the past 50 years or so the country has gone through periods of innovation and growth followed by periods of refinement and design that increase our productivity. This chart from Forrester Research demonstrates the pattern:
It turns out that while we feel more productive now with our new tech tools, we’re actually just catching up to technology. As Bussgang wrote,
“Those of us who are immersed in the innovation economy may find this hard to believe, but we are not, as a whole, actually more productive when we are in the midst of an innovation cycle boom. New technologies take time to absorb, refine, and make mainstream. Computer software can be reprogrammed quickly. Humans can’t.”