Talk about the digital revolution is very exciting. But the fact remains that despite the promise of the gold digital age, we haven’t yet come close to the economic growth seen as a result of the Second Industrial Revolution, which saw the rise of the combustion engine, computing, phones, and jet air travel, says Ciena President and CEO Gary Smith in a recent blog.
Indeed, this proclamation is evident, he suggests, when you consider that the total ICT spend in the U.S. in 2014 represented only 7 percent of the country’s economy. That said, it’s clear that we are still very early on in our path to harness the power of the internet, Smith added.
Smith, who is also a board member at Avaya (News - Alert) and CommVault Systems, references Robert J. Gordon’s The Rise and Fall of American Growth, which he says helps frame this discussion. Smith says that The New York Times Bestseller, published by Princeton University Press, explains that growth rates are slowing due to an aging population, increasing inequality, poor education, and rising debt levels, among other factors.
Indeed, a 2005 report by McKinsey & Co. talks about how aging in the developed world could “radically transform the financial wealth of households, and therefore, the capital available to businesses and governments.” Increasing inequality was a key tenet of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign. The U.S. education system is constantly under fire. And there’s been a lot of discussion in recent years about the rising national debt and what it could mean to the country’s long-term prospects.
While ICT innovation is clearly working to offset some of that downside, Smith says, it has not been strong enough to do so to date. The good news, however, is that up-and-coming technologies like artificial intelligence, big data analytics, along with global mobile cloud connectivity, can address inequality, and improve productivity by providing easy access to information, he suggests.
“In industrialized nations, we are already seeing this enable disruptive and innovative business models in healthcare, education, transportation, agriculture and other critical industries,” writes Smith. “So, it’s clear that as the Digital Revolution (News - Alert) continues to propagate and progress – specifically as network access improves across the developing world – it offers the promise of fundamentally improving the quality of life for billions of people and actually delivering real productivity and global economic growth.”
Edited by Maurice Nagle