Understanding the Global Technology World Ahead

Over 20 years ago, the U.S. government set out to create a technology infrastructure designed to replace existing communications and information distribution platforms in the U.S. While most do not recognize the internet from this vantage point, it is most certainly what the internet is and why it is here.

What's most unique and compelling about the internet is not just the tools and opportunities for business and consumers. It is the first true globally unified and connected communications and information distribution platform to exist worldwide. Certainly, it's been possible to communicate with other parts of the globe prior to the advent of the internet. But there has never been a faster, more cost and time efficient means to do so as there is today. In a matter of seconds, we can talk to people in India or China, do business from thousands of miles away, read information in real-time, and so much more, all thanks to the internet.

While the globally connected functionality of the internet's infrastructure is no secret, much of innovation and business has remained in silos and behind walls around the world to date. We do not hear much about the 'smart,' or web-connectivity of Estonia, which has been leveraging the internet's capabilities in its country since as early as 2006. India has pioneered interesting innovations with identifying its citizens and connecting them to much needed state and financial aid via the web. But these stories -- of countries growing in innovation and development in addition to our own -- are increasing and in the coming years we can be sure they will even more so.

What will drive much of this is the new rapid spread and speed of innovation and ideas. It didn't take long for U.S.-based Facebook or Twitter to gain users outside of the country, or for places like India or Eastern Europe to rapidly become hot beds for software engineering and outsourced technology help. As these trends take place, they can help drive innovation and technology development in other countries around the world. China and many Asian countries are well known for mobile web use and innovation. Many parts of Africa are said to be keeping pace with mobile use as internet infrastructure is less expensive and easier to access in places traditional communications and information distribution infrastructures were unable to proliferate.

As a result, we'll likely see not just local or national walls and silos disrupt but also those that exist between businesses and countries around the world, too. It could mean that in the future your favorite television shows on your 'smart' TV may be based in the U.K. instead. Or even the potential of services including internet or other access, from companies residing outside the U.S. That's hard to envision today, with the regulations and fences in place. But the internet has proven to be a powerful disruptor, and while we can't say what's certain in the future, it's not impossible that this may be the world we're in.

The internet will also leap far beyond where it is today. We've really only tapped its information distribution power -- there is still access control/management, security, payments, and of course, communications. While these components of the internet's capabilities have yet to reach the market in full today, we're already starting to see the tip of the iceberg and that will only increase in the future. With it, we'll see new needs for technology products, services, security, and even new laws, regulations and sanctions. There will likely be an increase in countries working to put up the silos and barriers the internet has helped dismantle as well.

How can business and technology in the U.S. take a position and succeed in this globally connected, unified world we'll be living in? A quest and hunger for innovation and advancement is a given. Encouraging research, experimentation and development at the university level, in labs and corporations, as well as startups, can all play a part as well. But most of all, it's the continued value of life, the desire to create a better world, and all that has often driven innovation and development around the world to date. By maintaining all of the above, and keeping abreast and aware of what the internet has the power to do, we can not only continue to play a role in its future but lead and shepherd that future in.