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The recent OCED (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) “Compendium of Productivity 2017” publication showed global growth, measured by GDP (Gross Domestic Product), should rise from 2.1% in 2016, to 3.5% in 2017, and 3.7% in 2018. Though this is good news, these growth numbers are below those before the financial crises started in 2008.


The OCED report states most of the world is stuck in a “low growth trap”. OCED has put the spotlight on productivity as the causality. Productivity continues to decline over the long term, way before the global financial crises.


OCED shows that productivity growth has been in decline for most countries with rates trending down since the early 2000s in the USA, UK and Canada. It also showed that the productivity decline started earlier in other notable countries such as Germany, France, Italy and Japan. The problem with the decline of productivity is that it is linked with wages. In the UK, the public sector and NHS have seen real decline in their personal incomes. It’s time for some fresh rethinking.  


Imagine the advances in technology during this period of productivity decline since 2000 or before. In 2000, client / server technology was becoming credible and the first commercial USB Flash Drive was launched for storing data. The first iPhone appeared in 2007 leading sometime later to the mantra Cloud First, Mobile First strongly purported in strategies across the world. Technology has radically changed during since 2000 and yet productivity continues to decline.


In the USA and UK, we have reached “full employment”, which normally drives up wages, but now that is not even happening. We need to rethink productivity so that personal income increases and GDP growth steps out of the “low growth trap”.


With the rapid emergence of Chatbots, albeit on the fringes of mainstream, could be a significant milestone that we have a technology that could help rethink productivity.


Imagine a blended workforce of Chatbots and humans working together.


Well-designed Chatbots can empower organisations and individuals to share and measure knowledge through conversations by simplifying complex information found in regulations, policies, procedures and practices. Some of these Chatbots can coordinate tasks and perform automation.  The outcomes provide smarter ways to empower employees, engage customers, optimise operations and transform products through comprehensive, but simplified knowledge and task automation.


Transformation is achieved through friction-free upskilling anywhere it matters, at any moment in time with the benefit of real-time intelligence for rapidly evolving knowledge at the edge.


The shift towards a blended workforce of Chatbots and people requires organisational redesign for sensing early and responding to continual change. This type of organisational redesign could well reverse the long decline in productivity.


The potential socioeconomic benefits are profound, but first it needs leadership to start the organisational redesign process away from the siloism of hierarchy and systems, that are more influenced by the thinking traceable back to the industrial revolution.


We do need fresh ideas for rethinking productivity and it needs to start with augmenting people’s capabilities inside and outside the organisation.    



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