An economic epoch is defined by three factors,
The production systems and the tools these systems are employing
The means of communication and the means for information creation
The type of energy (power) systems engaged.
In each epoch there is a certain relationship and interdependence between these three factors. So far in human history, each of these factors was built over a certain technology and there was no relation between the technologies these three factors were exploiting. In striking contrast, the characteristic of the knowledge-based economy we have entered, as a clearly identifiable new economic epoch, is the dominant role of information and communications systems which are emerging as the common technological base all these three factors. have This presupposes the digitization and the standardization of all human activities and of all processes in their lives. As the matter of fact, the digitization and standardization allow the convergence of the three factors into an entirely novel framework. Moreover, digitization allows biotechnology to emerge, for the first time, as the fourth factor in the definition of an economic epoch.
The distinctive feature of the knowledge-based economic activity is that it provides a new framework for planning, organizing and coordinating resources (human or material) to an unprecedented scale, while removing all barriers associated with location, distance and skills: we are entering the era where all technology-related restrictions which confine humans to implement their social functions at certain locations only, are being removed. This opens up the opportunity to select, mobilize and utilize the most diverse parameters and assets needed to complete a particular task regardless of their actual physical location and regardless of the nature of these tasks. In this way, social functions, like the deployment of new production tool systems in an industrial complex, the handling of agricultural robots in the fields, the employment of integrated health-care systems, the operation and control of distributed and renewable energy systems, scientific research, education, recreation and cultural development, etc will be rooted back to the same standardized processes.
We acknowledge that the knowledge capital, which knows no geographical boundaries, is an indestructible entity in striking contrast with its first or second industrial-wave counterparts that were often subjected to dissipation. Moreover, unlike physical resources, the knowledge capital is not exhaustible; it can be almost instantly transferred anywhere and can be employed or used simultaneously from an unrestricted number of human users or machines. In parallel, this new era brings its own challenges: the coordination of diverse and complex operations becomes an extremely challenging and critical task. The knowledge-based economy is ushering a revolutionary wealth system but it also includes many unchartered directions, the implications of which are not fully understood and accounted for in all respects at this moment, while we are not fully prepared for the many alternative outcomes.
We have passed the point where national economies are integrated to regional ones transforming the previously isolated markets into vast market clusters. Today, regions within a single nation, countries, unions and even whole continents are immensely and inextricably linked creating new opportunities while the economic interests are shifted to new directions. In this framework, global economy is characterized from interdependency and cooperation on one hand and from competition on the other.
This evolution has created global reach enterprises that may leverage the features of the knowledge-based economy to become completely location-independent, capitalizing on an automated connectivity to and between any process, person or thing; moreover, they are designated from their ability to scale to meet any demand. This ability, to scale to worldwide demand but still be able to provide for the delivery of services or goods locally, is something that requires a certain organizational and technological framework. On the organizational front, global alliances or consortia are formed to establish global reach with ubiquitous local access in each geographic market. Each of these alliances will likely be anchored to one or more large global industry leaders or service providers. In such a dynamic world, the enterprises with the most automated operations and the alliances with optimized global-local reach operations are those that will benefit the most and will be able to leverage their dynamic agility to win in the marketplace.
However, the organizational framework alone is not sufficient to safeguard better, lower-cost, value-added digitalization and service creation. A common, standardized operating platform, overcoming the current picture of a plethora of over-fragmented and single-purpose technologies, is a necessity that will bring into life the potential of a knowledge-based economy matching the ability of the over-the-top enterprises to coordinate on both “global” and “local” scale.
This is the point where the next generation infrastructures is expected to play a central role.
by Alexandros Stavdas