Job creation is probably one of the biggest immediate challenges facing most regions and nations. With the global economy tilted toward benefitting the top 1%, the other 99% are asking: How can we find and create jobs in this new global economy? Manufacturing and even service jobs are vanishing at an astounding rate due to productivity gains and slowing global growth. Where are the new jobs and how can they be stimulated?
I think the secret to the New Global Economy is “intelligence” — the application of information technologies (IT) to existing industrial sectors, not just to cut production costs, but to add value to products and services.
For example, Maker Fairs for inventors are proliferating and now partnering with IT developers to develop new types of smart devices aimed at specific sectors, such as the blind, aging, dyslexic, paraplegic, etc. There are plenty of sectors where smart solutions are badly needed, whether it be fresh water, sanitation or K-12 education. The new jobs and industries will be created by those innovators who, as my mother once told me, “find a need and fill it.”
Back in the late 1990s, my Silicon Valley friends lamented that the age of the garage inventors like Apple was over. The future would be controlled by major corporations. Meanwhile, a Taiwanese American couple were building home WiFi sets from off-the-shelf parts purchased at the nearby electronics stores. Their little startup, Linksys, was later acquired by Cisco Systems for $340 million. My friends said “I could have done that!” But the problem is that they didn’t because they thought it was impossible.
Belief is probably the biggest obstacle facing innovators and job seekers. If you believe something is impossible, you will not try and thus not innovate. Others will do it first. That’s probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned from growing up in Silicon Valley. The future belongs to the believers and builders, not the skeptics.
So how can people build businesses on the cloud? Right now, sector-specific cloud services are booming because Facebook and Linkedin are too generalized, rigid and inflexible. People want more flexible social and business networks where they can build community, attract advertisers, sell merchandise, etc. In other words, people are seeking greater control over their business and social lives. I think the future belongs to innovators who create specific business and social networks to address their main concerns, whether it be raising money for their local school, stopping suicides, or helping old people.
In Silicon Valley, we have have a favorite saying from Alan Kay, former Apple and Disney innovator:
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
May you invent the future by building your own cloud services and smart devices!