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Technology: 24-Hour Knowledge Factory

Dr. Amar Gupta

"The Sun never sets on the British Empire," was a notion emphasized during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to highlight that the British Empire as far-flung, and that the sun was always visible from some part of this vast empire. While the British Empire has since gradually receded, we can now coin an equivalent phrase: "The Sun never sets on the 24-hour Knowledge Factory!"

The concept of the 24-hour Knowledge Factory is inspired by the Industrial Revolution. Prior to the Revolution, manufacturing was a cottage industry where a product was developed from ideation to creation by a single craftsman and attending apprentices. The Revolution saw a transformation in manufactured goods from individual objects of art to interchangeable commodities. This transformation was made possible by investing unprecedented capital into specialized tools and machinery. Manufacturers, in order to leverage their invested capital as well as meet growing demands for their products, moved from daylight work hours to the modern system of working shifts around the 24 hour clock.

Today, the advanced economies of the world are moving from the production of tangible goods to the development of intangible intellectual property (IP). The frontier of IP development is still relatively new and we find ourselves in much the same place as pre-Revolution manufacturing. Software, ASICs, marketing campaigns, and many other fields still, by and large, produce objects of art by the work of a relatively small number of masters and understudies. We think it natural to ask ourselves if the analogy can be carried further. Can the development of intellectual property become a continuous 24 hour knowledge factory?

Already, industry can be seen to be experimenting with this concept. In particular, contemporary software development is often a global effort with development teams distributed across North America, Europe, Russia, India, and Australia, to name a few common places. This strategy allows for an efficient design process that has a faster turnaround time. It provides the firm with access to high-talent designers who would otherwise have to move to a different country, or work at odd hours of the night. The creation of professional service teams that transcend geographic and temporal boundaries offers the potential to change the face of many industries. This new innovation will dramatically impact the manner in which companies build, test, sell, and support their products and services.

The 24 hour knowledge factory can therefore deliver many benefits. However, there remain significant challenges in communication, collaboration, project management, and administration in this novel business environment. Our goal is to generate new ideas, explore many alternatives, and conduct research and development of new processes and systems that will make a significant contribution to the realization of the 24 hour knowledge factory.

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