In the 5/16/06 issue of Financial Times, James Manyika wrote an interesting editorial about types of knowledge workers, noting that most have been involved with performing transactions and transformations, while today’s knowledge workers are increasingly being involved in more complex "tacit interactions." Manyika makes the point that most successful companies have already optimized productivity in the domains of transactions and transformations (as evidenced by "the narrow performance gap between the best and worst performing transformation-intensive companies" such as mining or manufacturing), and he wonders if "tacit transformations" represent the next opportunity for productivity enhancements.
Manyika observes that "the sectors where tacit interactions dominate, such as publishing, healthcare, and software," are the ones that have the largest gaps in performance.
The obvious question: How can companies automate and perhaps outsource these kinds of interactions?
BTW, Manyika is a partner in McKinsey’s Silicon Valley office, and McKinsey just published a study on tacit interactions. Here are some additional links: