Worries about diminished GDP growth, a shrinking middle class and rising geopolitical conflicts are rampant. Many may be concerned about the direction our world is headed in, but complete disruption of the ways our cities and countries operate is key to turning it around.

Digitization will impact productivity like no other disruptive trend being discussed right now – tapping into the 50 billion devices that will come online over the next five years – this will have 5 to 10 times the impact the Internet has had on our lives so far. This will be key to how countries maintain global competitiveness, increase GDP growth, foster innovation and create new jobs.

A great example is France. Government leaders clearly understand the importance of digital transformation and are taking the digitization process a step further by building an ecosystem that will grow innovation power. Collaboration between corporations and startups will be key to maintaining international competitiveness across Europe. I traveled to France last week for the opening of the Paris Innovation and Research Center, which will bring together government, companies like Cisco, startups, universities, developers, researchers, and the venture capital community to ensure continuous innovation and accelerate of France’s digital transformation. With tools like a floor to ceiling interactive video wall, groups from around the world can collaborate seamlessly. Through the right infrastructure and resources, France will be able to build an environment that supports new ideas to improve the citizen experience and transform the way the country operates. Over the next 10 years digitization could help France generate $101 billion contribution to GDP, 1.1 million jobs, and $51 billion in value from a sustainable innovation network.

While people question whether economic slowdown in emerging markets is an ongoing trend, India has laid the groundwork for prosperity. I sat down with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his trip last month to Silicon Valley. As the first Indian head of state to visit California in three decades, he sent a clear message about his commitment to partnering with industry on projects for his Digital India initiative. One key area that this will impact greatly is a highly skilled workforce – we’re already seeing this in the ICT industry, a frontrunner in creating a talent pool ready for jobs of the future. Additionally, Modi has set a vision for India to be a key manufacturing hub for the world, which will enable local innovation, jobs creation and increase India’s global competitiveness. Finally, with the Startup India initiative Modi has shown full support for creating an environment that is conducive to next generation companies. With the right technological investments, and partners, India can completely change how citizens, businesses and the government interact, potentially adding $224 billion in economic value for the country over the next decade.

I believe the time is now for industry and government to take the initiative on transformational projects to harness the power of digitization. We must take advantage of the $4.6 trillion public-sector opportunity the next phase of the Internet holds. Through training programs for the workforce of the future, harnessing an innovation ecosystem, leveraging the power of partnerships, and building a secure digital infrastructure with the ability to scale, countries can not only survive, but will thrive in this new Digital Age, unlocking new economic growth.



John Chambers

No Longer with Cisco