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#ExecInsights: Unlocking the Next Wave of Innovation and Job Creation

Today, Cisco unveiled what the Wall Street Journal is calling a new “mega chip” to keep up with growing networking communications demands.  This comes on the heels of a new Cisco Smart+Connected City Wi-Fi solution that provides a blueprint for urban environments to deploy pervasive connectivity to their citizens, government agencies and business.

These developments are part of the next wave of innovation:  the Internet of Everything.  With less than 1 percent of all devices currently connected, we now have the opportunity to IP-enable the remaining 99 percent and transform industries and lives in ways we have never before imagined.

This presents an unprecedented opportunity for American businesses and the U.S. technology industry. In fact, a new paper out today by the Progressive Policy Institute’s Michael Mandel looks at how the Internet of Everything can jumpstart the slugging economy.

According to Mandel, “the Internet of Everything could raise the level of U.S. gross domestic product by 2%-5% by 2025. This gain from the IoE, if realized, would boost the annual U.S. GDP growth rate by 0.2-0.4 percentage points over this period, bringing growth closer to 3% per year.

Rob 2I have spent the last three days in Washington, DC, meeting with policymakers from both sides of the aisle talking about this very topic.  Today, I had the opportunity to sit on a Politico panel with the CEO of Zipcar, former U.S. Senator John Sununu (himself an engineer) and the young mayor of South Orange, New Jersey, who is transforming how his town utilizes technology for government services and civic engagement.

The message was clear: there is massive opportunity on the table.  And the U.S. has the historical precedent to lead and to capture the benefits of the Internet of Everything, but our success is not guaranteed.

Today’s panelists presented common themes about how the U.S. should ensure its technology leadership position in the next wave of the innovation economy.  (I outlined these thoughts in greater detail in a piece that appeared today in The Hill.)

Invest in talent:  U.S. Senator Sununu (now head of the inspire STEM USA Coalition) shared today that the current cap on the number of high-skilled foreign workers able to stay in the United States for a job was set in 1991.  Google did not exist until 1998.  In recent years, 500,000 have been created just from mobile technologies yet our workforce has not kept up.

Our country has to do a better job of training – and retaining – the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.  We have to focus on improving STEM education in America as well as reforming our immigration system to encourage highly-skilled workers to stay in the United States.

Enable innovation through infrastructure:  Mobility is unlocking the Internet of Everything.  Business, communications, agriculture, health care and education will all be conducted wirelessly.  Spectrum is key.  We are gobbling up spectrum now and as a whole new wave of things are connected to the Internet, we will need more of it.

Rob 1Create a hospitable environment for doing business:  Simply put, government should promote innovation and business investment, not hinder it.  We need certainty in government and a strong sense of where and how our country is going to invest for the future.  That includes a modern, more globally-competitive tax system that encourages businesses to invest and innovate in this country.

Finally, never lost in the debate is the critical need to ensure privacy and security are at the heart of the solutions. ZipCar Mark Norman pointed out that a new wave of technological and economic growth is dependent on solving those issues.

Economic growth and the next wave of innovation won’t happen by accident.  Cisco stands ready to work with our leaders to ensure that the U.S. is at the forefront.

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