Should Government Take a Cue from Big Business on Innovation?

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Is IT the Rodney Dangerfield of the U.S. economy? Just as CIOs struggle for respect at many companies, IT appears to be struggling for respect from government leaders.


This despite having contributed some $2 trillion to the U.S. economy over the past decade, according to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. The ITIF's lofty goal, says ITIF President Robert Atkinson in this Insurance & Technology article, is to encourage the government to make digital transformation "the fourth leg" of economic policy, along with fiscal, monetary and investment policy.


The U.S. has long been viewed as a tech leader, but it appears to be in danger of losing that status to countries like Finland and Sweden, which ranked highly on a list of the world's most innovative countries produced by Forrester Research. Not coincidentally, Finland and Sweden are among the leaders in the World Economic Forum's latest Global Information Technology Report, which ranks countries based on how favorable their business and regulatory environments are to IT.


The WEF ranked the U.S. fifth in this report, down from the top spot last year, faulting the "relative deterioration of the political and regulatory environment."


Fortunately, political lobbying on behalf of IT by groups like the ITIF appears to be paying off. The U.S. House of Representatives just passed two bills designed to boost tech-fueled innovation, both of which now move to the Senate for consideration.


However, these bills don't address what Forrester taps as "the biggest flaw in most innovation agendas," an insular view of nations as closed systems. A better approach, says Forrester, would be creating "innovation networks" in which different countries played the specific roles -- inventor, transformer, financier, broker -- best suited to their skill sets.


Large multinational companies are already doing this, points out Forrester.