Revolution and the Innovation wheel


In a brilliant journey through the economic history of the western world, author Robert J. Gordon looks at The Rise and Fall of American Growth. This recent book focuses on a revolutionary century that impacted the American standard of living more than any period before or after. Our standard of living is typically viewed as the ratio of total production of goods and services (real GDP) per member of the population. But this measure fails to truly capture enhancements to our well-being. Human well-being is influenced by advances in the areas of food, clothing, shelter, energy, transport, education, health, work, information, entertainment, and communications. The special century (1870 – 1970) that followed the Civil War was made possible by a unique clustering of what the author calls the great inventions. Clearly – as the visual I developed depicts – the great inventions of the second industrial revolution significantly improved our well-being:

revolution-and-the-innovation-wheel

A PDF of the visual is now available Here.

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Ecosystem Thinking


The notion of value creation and capture is a core component of business and the models that drive it. While historically viewed with a traditional product mindset, several emerging forces will alter this basic tenet of business. At its core, the way businesses create and capture value will change – the degree of change ranges from transformative to historical. The last several posts focused on the historical – namely Jeremy Rifkin’s view that we are heading towards A New Economic Paradigm. The foundation of Mr. Rifkin’s argument is a Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) platform that takes the marginal cost of production to near zero. Enabled by the Internet of Things, this General Purpose Technology (GPT) Platform could alter our landscape more dramatically than previous GPTs (steam-locomotive-printing press, electricity-auto-telephone). What happens to value creation and capture in a near zero marginal cost scenario?

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The Logistics Internet


The next post in this continued look at disruptive scenarios focuses on the Logistics Internet. In his recent book titled The Zero Marginal Cost Society, Jeremy Rifkin describes an Economic Paradigm Shift driven by a Third Industrial Revolution (TIR) platform. The Logistics Internet is one of three components that make up this TIR platform (communications and energy are the other two). As the three components converge, they create a general purpose technology platform that drives a third revolution. Mr. Rifkin believes we are in the early stages of an automated transport and logistics Internet, and he describes his thinking in this short Video.

In his new book, Rifkin describes the process by which suppliers and buyers connect and conduct business (Logistics) as the driver of the whole economic system. Yet, he maintains that the means by which goods and services are stored and delivered is grossly inefficient and unproductive. Rifkin suggests that a rethinking of the way we store and ship materials and goods is in order. Several supporting facts are provided in the book:

Logistics Statistics

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The Energy Internet


The focus on disruptive scenarios continues in the next several posts with a look at the work of Jeremy Rifkin and his recent book titled The Zero Marginal Cost Society. In his book, he describes the economic paradigm shifts of the past, and points to three elements that converge to create a general purpose technology platform to drive the shift: new forms of communication, new forms of energy, and new mechanisms for transport and logistics. Rifkin believes a powerful Third Industrial Revolution platform (The Internet of Things) is emerging to drive an economic paradigm shift in the next 40 years. The new form of communications in this context is the Internet, while renewable energy represents the new form of energy. The new mechanisms for logistics and transport involve sensors, coordinated logistic networks, renewable energy, and autonomous vehicles. Mr. Rifkin describes this Third Industrial Revolution platform as three Internets (Communication, Energy, and Logistics) converging to operate as one. He sees the Internet of things bringing these three elements together to manage (Communications), power (Energy), and move (Logistics) economic activity.

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