Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Where will commoditization take us?

RYAN, JOHN and HOLMES, ANDREW (2008): Where will commoditization take us? Published in: DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY OF VENICE , Vol. 2008, No. 31 (1. September 2008): pp. 1-14.

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Abstract

Predicting the future is an imprecise science, and something that should always be carried out carefully and the results should be taken with a pinch of salt. That said it is sensible to assume that most of the drivers of commoditization are likely to remain in force for the foreseeable future. Unlike the futurologists who attempt to predict how society and technology will change over the next fifty years, we are only going to look a few years ahead, which is a more sensible time horizon. History is not always a good predictor of the future, but in the case of commoditization we think it is. It is clear that when we look back in time we can see how the process of commoditization has subsumed great tranches of industry, eliminated significant numbers of manual labourers and increased the general efficiency and effectiveness of society. In many respects we could argue that it was important to the advancement of the industrialised economies of the West. In projecting forward from this point, we should expect commoditization to continue to expand its footprint into areas which we currently think are outside of the realms of possibility. After all, no one would have expected the IT industry to have become so commoditized when it first emerged during the 1940s. And in the same way that white collar workers were caught out when they believed they were immune from the initial waves of downsizing and offshoring that affected the manufacturing sector, others at the mid- and high-end of the workforce may also be caught out sometime in the future. And as commoditization continues to advance it will touch on many more peoples’ lives and livelihoods.

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