Workin' on the knowledge assembly line

Some IT gurus gathered at Harvard the other day to discuss offshoring, outsourcing, etc., etc. Nothing new in that, but one intriguing idea got discussed toward the end: the 24-hour knowledge factory. That is, if companies have branches or contractors around the world they can work on projects 24/7. At one guy put it:

…Gupta described his dream: a twenty-four-hour knowledge factory. During the Industrial Revolution, factories ran production in shifts. Why not borrow a lesson from the Industrial Revolution for the IT revolution, he asked. People in the U.S. could work on a major IT problem for eight hours; at the end of the day, they’d go home and transfer the development work to a center in China, where people could start up from the point American workers finished. When the Chinese reached the end of their workday, the development would be passed to someone in Poland or Romania.

“Then when you come in to work the next morning,” he said, speaking of American workers, “the challenge is to understand what others have done in sixteen hours. If you are able to do that from a technological, managerial, and organizational point of view, that will be a new paradigm,” said Gupta.

I think this articulates the emerging paradigm of the 21st century enterprise: globe-spanning, 24/7 activity. The sun never sets. I think anyone in the workforce today ought to give this some thought, even in the ACS.

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