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Reducing the Cost of Information

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Mon May 02 2005

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Jay Cross, an inveterate reader of varying and sundry tastes, always said that interesting and new ideas about learning can come from almost anywhere. He was right. I just finished reading FutureWealth by Francis McInerney and Sean White.

The premise of the book is simple. We are in the Information Age and the cost of information is always falling e.g. Moore's Law. Companies that take advantage of that falling cost of information - from Schwab to Wal-Mart's to Dell - will prosper. They will have a faster time-to-market, better products and services, more competitive market positions, get closer to their Customers, and generally act smarter than other companies.

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So we, who are supposedly in large measure responsible for that Corporate IQ, the organizational hive mind, might take this as a lesson. If we can, with our programs that are trying to make people smarter, better at their jobs, more adept and knowledgeable, can do that AND make the cost of the information cheaper in the process we win big time. If we do it and make the cost of information more expensive in the process we lose.

Example: A more expensive cost of information would be a program that involves many people many months to develop, an live classroom instructor to deliver and four days to deliver. The same learning, delivered online is cheaper. The same know-how or knowledge delivered via database connected via Internet to the students laptop, PDA, notebook, cellphone, etc., delivered only when the information is needed, on demand, anywhere and anytime, is cheaper still. And sometimes finding the right person's phone number and calling is even cheaper.

The falling cost of information drives decentralization, collaboration, just-in-time and more. So how do we get our programs to take advantage of this idea? What do you think? Is the cost of the information a factor? Does the book provide an interesting new metric for people who create educational programs?

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