The digital assembly line

More than a third of our work comes down to communication, control and information provision. Everyone is constantly receiving messages that we have to respond to. More and more lawyers are checking more and more rules, accountants are checking numbers and managers are checking lawyers and accountants again. Automation has made our work easier, but the current way of organizing also ensures that more and more communication and control are taking place. Automation has brought us a long way, but has contributed to the fact that we now have a digital bureaucracy while productivity growth slows down. When we combine modern organizational science with new data technologies such as internet of things, blockchain and artificial intelligence, the digital assembly line is created.

This digital assembly line has many similarities with the origin and principles of the physical assembly line. What the physical assembly line did in factories will the digital assembly line do in offices. By reducing digital waste in offices, we become more productive. This allows us to structurally solve the consequences of an aging population and shortages in healthcare, care taking, education and public security. These sectors are helped, not with more money, but with more time. Responsible administrators, politicians, managers and professionals must be aware of this.

Imagine that selling your house would be as easy as sending an email, big chance you would not believe that this will become reality in the near future. But the digital assembly line makes is possible, at least technically. In a digital context it doesn’t matter what goes from A tot B, for a digital assembly line it is just a ‘package’ of zero’s and ones, bits an bytes.

But a disruptive technology doesn’t work without awareness of a new context (from physical to digital), an aligned organization model and problem to solve. The steam engine was not invented at the beginning of the Industrial Age, but during the Roman period, but that moment there we no real problems to solve with the technology. Technology alone will not but sufficient to solve social problems such as low productivity growth, privacy, power of big tech companies, fakework and fakenews. So not the hype around digital transformation will help you but a deeper understanding of modern organization science and data technologies will help you. Digital transformation is all about people.

When we do business with each other we have to trust each other. In order to do that we want to reduce uncertainty. In order to do that we innovate institutions like contracts, banks, governments and companies. These institutions create high transaction costs. It is also possible to ‘program’ uncertainty reduction or trust in a protocol. That is what the digital assembly is all about in my opinion. You can see the digital assembly, with blockchain, rich data and data logistics as pillars, as an extra trust layer on ‘the internet’. Internet makes it possible to share information without almost any friction. With the digital assembly line we can do business wit lesser intermediates and digital waste . We can do transactions (profile, search, select, contract, purchase order, invoice, paying etc.) without almost any friction ant therefore costs.

The early internet gave us a realistic vision of a decentralized democratic world, that enables information exchange without the interference of institutions. But now we all know that this didn’t happen. In contrary: corporations, financial markets and governments became more powerful than ever. Let’s not make this ‘mistake’ again with the blockchain and the digital assembly line.

I see the digital assembly line as a combination of modern organization science with disruptive data technologies such as internet of things, blockchain and artificial intelligence, that enables us to organize transactions between supply and demand almost without any transaction costs. And that is the basis for a successful organization form that will survive the next decades.

What the physical assembly line did in factories will
the digital assembly line do in offices