By considering the development of IT within organisations in the past, it is possible to reflect about the importance of IT for the future. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the IT revolution will not be very different from the previous technological revolutions that had such fundamental consequences for the economy.
The steam engine, railroads and the industrial application of electricity resulted in the end of entire economic sectors, but they also enabled organisations to work differently and more efficiently. The consequences were higher productivity and an improvement in the quality of life.
However, it took several decades before these changes affected the economy as a whole. UNCTAD believes that the acceleration of productivity in the US is of a structural and lasting nature and that this increase is due to the changes that have been introduced by IT and the internet.
UNCTAD also believes that these technologies will continue to support the improvement of productivity. The cost of computer capacity will continue to drop dramatically for some time and most companies are still learning to organise themselves to take the greatest advantage of IT and the internet.
We are in the early stages of an historic transition from mass-production to agile production, from single-company operations to web enterprises and from the industrial age, with capital, raw materials, land and labour as the primary economic resources, to the information age, with information and knowledge as the primary economic resources.
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