From Previous Parts
Part 1 discussed the four ages of mankind. The first was the Age of Speech; for the first time humans could “learn by listening” rather than “learn by doing”; that is, data could be accumulated, communicated, and stored by verbal communications. It also transformed the hunting and gathering into an economic architecture of small somewhat settled communities over the course of 300,000 years. Settlement produced first significant increase in economic activity, wealth per capita, and in the academics in the form of the shaman for tribal organization.
The second, the Age of Writing, produced a quantum leap in data and information that could be accumulated, communicated, and stored. This was over a period of at least 6,500 years. During this time, academic activity evolved from everyone working to survive to a diversity of jobs and trades and the economic stratification of political organizations. Again, the total wealth of humanity took a leap of orders of magnitude as the economic architectures of city states, then countries, and then empires evolved. The academics evolved from the shaman, to priests, clerics, researchers, mathematicians, and universities (e.g. the Museum at Alexandria ~ 370 BC and the University of Bologna, 1088) and libraries.
The third, the Age of Print, started with Gutenberg’s press in 1455, but blossomed with Luther’s radical admonition that everyone should “read” the bible about 1517. Suddenly, the quantity of information and knowledge to a leap of several orders of magnitude as all types of ideas were accumulated, communicated, and stored.
Part 2 dealt with history of Services Oriented Architecture (SOA) as it developed hand in glove with computing architecture—a natural fit.
Part 3 A, deals with how SOA works with mass customization of products, systems, and services.
Part 3 B, discussed the three economic architectures, infrastructure, mass production, and mass customization will be employed in the Digital Age.
This part, Part 4 discusses how the Mass Customization (Services Oriented Architecture) will change the culture within which the individual lives.
Changes for the Individual in the Digital Age
As can already be seen the Digital Age and the Mass Customization (Services Oriented Architecture) will change human culture; and will likely change it as much as the cultural change with the discontinuity caused the move from the Age of Writing to the Age of Print.
Already children, those below the age of 21, spend as much or more time interacting with others through their informational interfaces, (smart phone) as they do in direct contact with their peers and elders. They have little idea what a dictionary or an encyclopedia are, using a web browser and search engine instead. Additionally, they no longer learn cursive writing, except perhaps to sign their name; they have little need for this artifact from the Age of Writing. They will continue to shop online more and go to the malls less; with some exceptions that I will discuss later.
The Economics of the Digital Age
The economics of the Digital Age will change drastically. There is a paradigm shift with the discontinuity caused by the revolutionary changes of Mass Customization. And it is a shift only whispered about in the financial markets and by economic gurus.
During the Age of Print, and especially with Mass Production, there was always a need for an increasing customer base. This was based on the increase in the economies of scale as production increased. At the time this increased the need for additional labor. In short, the total wealth and the general wealth of a culturally/political/geographically cohesive organization increased with increased population. This is with the caveat that the organization had access to the raw materials.
An additional factor, already discussed in this paper was the skill-level of the population, that is, the education by listening and by doing.
So in the Age of Print, the creation of wealth (the amount of value) of a country was linked to:
· The population size and its increase
· The integration of society (not its diversity)
· The ability to have access to raw materials and to transport the finished goods to markets
· The Security of the country
So much for wealth creation in the Age of Print.
In the Digital Age the creation of wealth will have different linkages. The reason for this is the overlay of Mass Customization (Services Oriented Architecture) Architecture over the current Mass Production Architecture and Infrastructure Architecture. And it will replace them in much of the economy. I will give a few examples in the next section of this paper.
One thing that will happen is that economies of knowledge will continue to replace economies of scale as I’ve already described. What this means is what I’ve discussed in one of the later chapters in my Book, Organizational Economics: the Formation of Wealth, that a great many small firms will replace the Fortune 500 of today.
In the future, either confederations of small organizations (using orchestration as a guiding principle) or concierge-based alliances of small organizations (using choreography as a guiding principle) will create both giant and small products, systems, and services. Additionally, I would expect that in some or many instances, alliances of confederations to implement the greatest/largest projects and programs.
Both confederations and alliances will require standardization of contract laws, regulations, and business rules to operate effectively. Knowing the government and the current power and lobbying power of Wall Street (financial firms), large corporations, and unions, the ride to full acceptance of this new economic architecture will put the most fantastic roller coaster to shame just as moving from the Age of Writing to the Age of Print did.
In the end, these current economic empires will fall, just like the political/economic power of King and Pope did. And since this is a revolutionary change, (while I hope not), there may be revolutions, counter-revolutions, and strife caused by it.
The New Order
At the end there will be a new order of economic activities. It will be very much more a meritocracy not caused by policy but by “the invisible hand” (in evolution it is called natural selection). In totality, there will be much more wealth because the knowledge of individuals will be turned into value.
Additionally, it will be a version of “Jeffersonian Democracy.” There will be a great many small independent firms, and so there will be a great many owners of these firms, in the way Jefferson envisioned it for small farmers/land owners. This means a resurgence of the “middle class” as small business owners.
These small businesses will need to fully understand the requirements of their customers and tailor their product, system, or service to meet those requirements. Consortium/confederation and alliance program manage process will be wrapped around the customer’s product, system, or service requirements, instead of focusing primarily on cost, schedule, and the finance engineers bottom line.
It also means that the Mass Customizers will focus more attention on meeting the customers’ requirements than advertising to tell the customer what the customer should want, which is their product, system, or service.
Government will provide security and infrastructure (meaning physical, cyber, and basic research). Everything else will change based on Mass Customization (SOA) Architecture. This includes many industries that most people think of as infrastructure-based, including education and medicine. These two among several I will describe in more detail in the next section.
In economic terms, the result could be that the GDP will fall, while the GDP per person and the wealth of people generally, will increase. The reason is that knowledge of the steps in a process breeds tooling to make the steps simpler, easier, and faster. Tooling is the economic equivalent of weapons being a “force multiplier” in the military. In the economic case, tooling is a “process multiplier”, as first discussed by Adam Smith.
As a process multiplier, tooling enables the same number of workers to create orders of magnitude more uniform quality products, faster and therefore cheaper. But tooling costs stored value (i.e., money). This is the reason that the Mass Production Architecture and money are linked and called Capitalism. (Aside: It probably should be called something else like Value Creation because it isn’t a form of idealism or utopianism, like socialism or communism, and it isn’t a religion like Liberalism, it’s a proven model of the way things actually work, at least in part.)
Throughout the Age of Print tooling was constantly improved and refined. In the early and mid-1950s, there was an ongoing controversy as to whether analog (mechanical) or digital computers were the wave of the future—that’s how good the mechanism became. (Aside: And it is a clear demonstration of the Superiority Principle: “The first instance of a superior principle is always inferior to a mature example of an inferior principle.”)
Then, in the 1960s to 1990s, enter the CNC machine, that is, the Computer Numerically Controlled machine. At this same time robotics was being hyped as the way to continue to reduce costs for Mass Production in the future.
In the 1960s through the 1990s, the Mass Production Architecture (and paradigm) focused on a totally automated factory, with little or no warehousing because everything would be JIT (Just In Time). I worked on two or three such projects during that time, wrote a number of articles the future of the automated factory based on my experiences, and worked on several national and international standards committees.
In 1985 and 1986 I worked on a paperless shop floor information system that became the information backbone of a state of the art factory. It not only integrated the shop floor systems, but had communications linkages with the engineering and MRP (Materials Resource Planning) systems. It won the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Lead Award in 1987.
I read about the GM’s fully automated engine plant that built to produce a single engine. The assembly line was a mile and a half long, but without a single worker. I thought this might be a poor investment because I could already see the glimmer of the Digital Age on the horizon.
Subsequently, I visited The GM SATURN plant. This plant was both state of the art and attuned to Mass Customization (SOA) Architecture. It could produce multiple types of engines off a single assembly line and it could produce (within reason) multiple types of vehicles. While it wasn’t totally automated, at assembly stations with workers, the stations were set up ergonomically so that petite or large workers could work at the station comfortably. Unfortunately, the SATURN product either did not meet the customers’ requirements or was not properly marketed.
In the future, all manufacturing will be somewhat the same, but also quite different. There will be two key differences. The first is the standardization of contractual, requirements, and design interfaces among the various functions of the confederation and/or alliance.
The second is that there will be standardization of highly business sensitive communications across a physical and logical network separate from the current Internet. The interfaces for users will be locked down both in terms of communications protocols and data formats. No documents or interpersonal communications (e.g. e-mail) will be allowed.
These two key differences will enable and support both business confederations and alliances the agility to act quickly to customers’ requirements, the heart of the Mass Customization (SOA) Architecture.
Changes to Habits (Cultures)
In the Digital Age there will be significant cultural change. I will discuss two of these changes.
Beyond these two key requirements for the successful implementation of Mass Customization using Services Oriented Architecture, a third, only slightly less important is product transportation. In the future, allied organizations are less likely to be collocated and therefore transportation of their output to final assembly and to the customer enables and supports Mass Customization.
In the Age of Print collocation was of seminal importance. In a paper I wrote (Industrial Location Behavior and Spatial Evolution, Journal of Industrial Economics, Vol. 5 (1977) pp. 295-312.) I discuss how a region around Detroit MI became the center of the automotive industry, though initially there were auto manufacturers all over the country. The reason was simple; it was the center of innovation, the way “silicon valley” has been for information technology.
Now there is no need for geographically regions to be the centers of innovation; I know. By 1990, I had the personnel of the advanced data communication laboratory I managed, working from home most of the time. By 2003, I was leading nationwide software development teams and producing software that met the customers “product” requirements and their “business” requirements (cost and schedule). So, I know there is no need to collocate software development personnel in a high cost, high tax state where the environmental restrictions are such that houses can’t be built and people live in RVs.
In the Digital Age, centers of innovation will occur in virtual space. Personnel can work from home, wherever home happens to be. For example, this means that someone who wants to sail around the world, but has a high tech design job can do both. That is he or she will be able to design the latest widget from the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Finance and work on various financial markets can already be done from anywhere, so there is really no need for the New York Stock Exchange being located in New York. It could be located in eastern Kentucky or in West Virginia, with backup systems in Mississippi. This would mean a lower cost of living and lower taxes for all.
Additionally, this means that there will be less or no need for office buildings. Since people can work from their homes in home offices, or from wherever and get the same tasks and activities accomplished, it’s pretty silly to spend money because of an “edifice complex”.
I would see the “great cities” and regions diminish in size and population, while small and medium cities and regions regain population.
Developmental versus operational/maintenance
That doesn’t mean that there won’t be all facilities, just that facilities will be sized for the product that the organizations are implementing; i.e., you can’t build an aircraft carrier in a bathtub.
Consequently, for the near-term future these plants and the infrastructure supporting them, supporting the communication, and the rest of the physical and information infrastructure will require maintenance personnel.
In the Digital Age there will be two general categories of jobs/workers. Not White Collar and Blue Collar, but Developmental and Operational/Maintenance.
In fact, most jobs will be in the operational/maintenance category. This will include plumbers, lawyers, electricians, nurses, auto mechanics, medical doctors, landscape maintenance, and so on. Most of these jobs will be structured after the Mass Customization Architecture.
For example, when the doctor provides the analysis of an illness together with a customer’s DNA, the pharmacist will manufacture a dosage of one or several medicines (or drugs) in exactly the formulation that will best target the disease, heal the customer, with the least side effects. While some of these “drugs” may be mass produced, most will be formulated at the pharmacy from various chemicals. This means that every pill will be produced for just one person. This is an example of the future in the Digital Age.
Relatively few people will be involved in development of new products, systems, or services on Earth. These will be talented out-of-the-box thinkers and doers. And they will not be what we think of today as “college educated”. In all likelihood, there will be no such thing as a college degree in the future. Education too will be on a Mass Customization basis, as I will discuss in the next section of this paper.