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Living in a Hyper-Connected World - What Does It Mean?

What is more important than knowledge?

Does Knowledge = Power?

At first glance the answer seems to be obvious – yes knowledge is power. After all we live in the knowledge economy. Most of us are knowledge workers. We have graduated from the industrial age to the information age. Knowledge is considered as the key asset of any organization. So on … and … so on …

But – just take a minute and imagine the following situations:

  1. Imagine that … you are participating in a quiz show and you have an internet access which no other participants have. How would you rate your chance of winning the quiz competition?
  2. Imagine that … you have been transported back in time – not by too much – just by about 100 years to the year 1912. How would you rate your chance to earn a living?
  3. Imagine that … your company has got a mandate to do everything internally – that is not to depend on any outside source for ANY material or service. What all do you have to do to be completely self-sufficient?
  4. Imagine that … you are working on an innovative product or service but you have one restriction – you have to get it right in the first attempt and you cannot do any trial. How would you rate your chance of success without any user feedback?

All I am trying to say is:

(A) Knowledge is more freely available and accessible now than any time in the history of our civilization

(B) Any piece of knowledge without the supporting infrastructure is as good as useless

So, what is more important than knowledge?

Again, try answering the following questions:

  1. When you want to consult a Doctor who specializes in a particular field of medicine, how would you choose?
  2. Why has Interbrand, (a company which specializes in creating and managing brand value), rated Coca Cola as the most valuable brand for the last 11 years?
  3. Why did Adidas pay David Beckham, the soccer player around $160 million and Nike pay Tiger Woods $100 million for their product endorsement?
  4. Why is Facebook which has a revenue of around $4 billion has a valuation of anywhere between $50 billion to $100 billion?
  5. How did Apple, selling iPhone and iPad, manage to become the most profitable company in the world while their competitors with similar products (selling in huge number and at about the same price point) struggle to remain in black?
  6. Why is it more important for an academician to count the number of citation the publication receives rather than the total number of publications?

The keywords are …

Reputation = How others perceives a professional

Brand = How prospective customers perceive a company

Fan following = Emotional attachment between a celebrity and the fans

Social network = How individuals are connection with each other

Supply chain = How organizations across the world are connected to each other

Academic network = How researchers build on top of work done by others

It is all about how we are connected to each other, individuals are connected to organizations and how organizations are interconnected.

This is the basic of all collaboration – how individual bits of knowledge get connected to form a whole which is much larger than its parts.

Network over Knowledge

Taking a leaf out of agile manifesto let me say that…

“…while there is value in the items on the right (Knowledge), we value the items on the left (Network) more…”

So, the key question is:

  • How much of your time do you spend cultivating the item on the left compared to the item on the right?
  • How much of our formal education is devoted to item on the left compared to the item on the right?

Acknowledgement

This topic has been on my mind for quiet sometime but three things happen almost simultaneously which prompted me to write this post … finally.

  1. The announcement that MIT, Stanford and others are offering many of their courses online and free.
  2. Frederic Moraillon invited me to join the LinkedIn group on Hyper-connectivity.
  3. My friend Shakti Ghosal wrote a very interesting post titled “Not so elementary, my dear Watson!

So, it is again a network effect!

Finally...

WordPress provides a nice graphical representation of the hits. I have put an image alongside the Facebook connection map. The similarity is interesting!

Here is an interesting viewpoint on how this hyper-connectivity is affecting us.

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at http://setandbma.wordpress.com.
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting
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