On September 12, 2001 as the world awoke to a new reality, everyone who was anyone was exclaiming that the 'world had changed' as the Twin Towers came crashing down in New York. I remember driving into work that morning of the 12th, with the morning radio comedy shows being decidedly unfunny and many drivers shining their headlights as a mark of respect and a show of solidarity with America, and I was trying to imagine how the world was actually going to change. What would be different, I wondered?
I won't embarrass myself now by divulging what I thought would happen, but needless to say, I was way off the mark! I don't feel so bad however, because I wasn't the only one who was wrong. Some highly informed observers made confident predictions about the new world order that was to come, but few of them predicted the mess that America was about to make.
Almost eight years later, and the world finds itself in a similar position to September 12. The great financial towers have come crashing down, spreading shock waves throughout the world including to our shores here in Australia. Anyone who is anyone knows that the world is now in a period of hyper-change, and plenty of informed observers are giving their opinion on what they believe will happen. Nut no-one – literally no-one – actually knows what is going to happen. There are a couple of clues however.
It is becoming clearer each day that this period in history will be marked by the rise of China to the eventual role of Superpower. As America's economic dominance falters, China is surging ahead to fill the vacuum. I believe that having a second Superpower is a good thing for the world. The old saying goes that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. America, the world's only Superpower, has learnt this lesson the hard way. And as China makes its ascent, the history books are re-writing the entry next to Richard Nixon's name from 'crook' to 'visionary', for it was 'ol Tricky Dickie himself who first opened up China to the West by his unexpected visit to Beijing at the height of the Cold War.
Another clue to how things will change can be found by following the trail of money. All throughout his successful election campaign, Barrack Obama put science and technology at the forefront of America's economic recovery plan. Since his elevation to the presidency, Obama has put his money where his mouth is with massive R&D funding increases into science and technology. The boom in funding is so profound that already there is concern about a possible bust at the end of the money cycle.
In order to keep the money-tap in the ‘On’ position, all Obama needs is a couple of big breakthroughs in the next couple of years. In fact, in his mini-State of the Union speech last month, he bet big by predicting a cure for cancer was within our reach. Another area where he needs a quick victory is in renewable energy. Where's Cold Fusion when you need it?
The exciting thing is the simple fact that Obama seems to 'get it'. He understands that America needs to innovate their way out of the hole they're in, and the billions of dollars that he's pouring into research will definitely pay dividends. Sooner rather than later, I hope.
Over here in the Australian ICT channel, a million miles away from the happenings over in Washington, there is no doubt change is on the horizon, but my firm belief is that there is no better industry in the world to be involved with than ICT. The products and services we sell and implement are on an ever-improving trajectory technology-wise, and as the technology becomes easier to use it moves down the spiral from enterprise business to SMB and eventually into home networking.
Our customer base is inexorably growing, and with the eventual building of the National Broadband Network we will see a huge boom in ICT in the coming years. The waves of change are coming, but here in the land of ICT we are perfectly placed to surf them into the future.
Niall Connell is the licensing and annuity manager at Express Data.