Recently it has become startlingly clear that the ultimate promise of the “Information Age” has been a hoax. Looking back in history you can see that the transition between “Ages” has always been accompanied by a disruptive technology that fundamentally changed the way humans worked and lived. The Agricultural Age gave way to the Industrial Age due to the introduction of the Assembly line. People moved to cities and worked in established “shifts” performing repetitive tasks designed to maximize productivity.
With the advent of the computer, the Information Age was hailed and the “knowledge worker” was born. The Information Age promised to change the way people worked, substituting the rigidity of the assembly line for the freedom of the knowledge worker.
Having spent time working in the enterprise software space, it is clear that nothing could be farther from the truth. Enterprise applications today have merely moved the assembly line from the factory to the office. Of the billions of dollars spent on enterprise software, the vast majority was spent to increase productivity on repetitive tasks such as AP/AR, etc. And, like an assembly line anchored to the concrete floor, trying to change these processes is almost impossible (just look at the current backlog in most IT departments!). Instead of freeing the worker up to contribute insight and innovation to business processes within a company, today’s software instead has created the modern equivalent of the sweat shops found in the first days of the industrial revolution.
There is hope – here at the beginning of the Connected Age, where people, systems and smart devices interact with radical equality, the original promise of the Information Age might finally be realized. Connected Applications are always on, always available and approachable, freeing people to explore, discover, contribute and innovate. The early signs I see make me believe that the Connected Age will unlock the next level of human potential, letting the Collective Intelligence of world flourish. This will lead to unimaginable advances in efficiency and innovation. I take satisfaction that ThingWorx is at the forefront of this transition.