Digital economy threatens dinosaurs with extinction

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Once again, September quarter figures indicate minimal wages growth with many Australian pay packets only just keeping pace with inflation. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, private sector wages grew by just 1.86% after seasonal adjustments over the year to September 2017, with a CPI increase of 1.8% in the same period[1].

The International Monetary Fund says productivity must lift if wages growth is to pick up among advanced economies[2], but the days of capital investment and automation driving output are gone, with a recent Treasury paper[3] stating “Labour productivity growth is… the key determinant of growth in Australian living standards.”

Why aren’t we more productive? We have IoT, AI, cloud computing and machine learning, we just aren’t leveraging them effectively and the classic problems of the knowledge worker remain – too many non-productive demands on our time.

“Globally, amidst what would appear to be an unprecedented wave of technological change and innovation, developed economies are experiencing a productivity slowdown.”[4]

According to Atlassian, 60% or less of work time is actually spent productively. The average employee attends 62 meetings per month with half of this time considered wasted[5]. People spend up to 4 hours per week preparing for status update meetings – talking about things that have already happened.[6]

New technology adoption can follow what is known as the “hype cycle”. We move from a “peak of inflated expectations” to a “trough of disillusionment” and then only after much trial and error, move to the “plateau of productivity”.”[7]   Are we in the trough of disillusionment?

Working with large commercial firms and smaller Not for Profits, WebVine sees these problems every day. People are frustrated. They might start a new job full of enthusiasm only to wait days to be set up in the system and then discover that their new employer doesn’t value their time enough to provide the right technology.

These problems are not new, but the risks of ignoring them are becoming more significant, as more and more businesses find themselves competing on a global scale, with new competitors from unforeseen sectors threatening disruption.

We can’t afford to be complacent. To stay competitive we need every staff member to contribute, to innovate, working together to solve problems and create new ways to stay ahead of the game.

It’s a serious situation but we are addressing it with humour, highlighting the problems with how we work in a series of short video clips, funded in partnership with Microsoft.

Written by and starring comedian Gary Eck, the videos share the trials of new employee Eric at a fictional company whose management and day-to-day processes are stuck in the 90s.

The videos are proving a hit with knowledge workers, with many sharing them on social media with their own horror stories of endless emails and nightmare meetings.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com.au/australia-wage-price-index-rba-implications-2017-11

[2] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/09/28/low-wage-growth-not-unique-australia

[3] Australian productivity trends and the effect of structural change https://static.treasury.gov.au/uploads/sites/1/2017/08/p2017-t213722-Roundup_Productivity_trends_and_structural_change.pdf

[4] http://theconversation.com/what-would-it-take-to-raise-australian-productivity-growth-83505

[5] https://www.atlassian.com/time-wasting-at-work-infographic

[6] Are meetings costing your business too much money? Dana Larsen, January 18, 2017 https://www.concur.com/newsroom/article/are-meetings-costing-your-business-too-much-money

[7] http://theconversation.com/what-would-it-take-to-raise-australian-productivity-growth-83505