Posted by: teresitaabaykrueger | April 29, 2010

Information is Changing the World

The world’s societies are seeking a view and understanding about the “well-being” of a population in all its considerations, whether it be social, environmental, cultural and economic. They recognize the need for reliable, trusted information to define, measure and communicate progress at all levels of society, and to make responsive and responsible decisions that have major impact on citizens’ lives. There is an added emphasis on information transparency that leads to accountability of authorities. They also recognize that information must be accessible to a wide audience of authorities and constituents to collaborate on new ideas effectively. In the 20th century governments learned about the need to gather and maintain information in order to demonstrate progress in societies. Now in this century they are learning how innovation in information can accelerate this progress – to how Information is Changing the World.

Societal progress in challenging areas such as government services, healthcare services, pharmaceutical research, national security and workforce development demands innovation, especially for the urgent imperatives associated with performance, climate change, health risks, cultural pluralism, security and labor. But innovation thrives best where rich sources of information are available and where the knowledge gained can be shared and become actionable from the resulting insight.

Given the current pace of globalization, the measurement and assessment of progress goes beyond national boundaries. Statistical and analytical methods that are open – commonly defined and applied – will drive progress at national, regional, local and international levels for decades to come. In fact, what is being called the “globally integrated enterprise”(i) is an evolution made possible by the emergence of new skills in new parts of the world, high-growth markets in developing nations, free trade and Information access.

“Economies predicated on the rise are those with a view of a globally networked communications infrastructure, which in turn underpins the collaborative nature of societal innovation.” from the OECD Forum on Societal Change- Istanbul Jun 2007.

Data the new currency
As large data sets become one of the most influential resources the Internet creates, it seems that information has become the new currency – that new raw material for businesses. In contrast to the old economy of the 19th to 20th century where steel, land, oil and the associated capital and labor ruled. The Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller empires have given way to Gates. It’s hard to imagine a world without information access, even in China. But what is more amazing, is the exponential growth of information and the endless need for more information. We have already witnessed the scale of both problems and solutions derived from this explosive growth and need. And a great example that describes the ease of access and use along with the large scale application is the decoding of the human genome – seen as the Grand Human Challenge involving the analyze of 3 billion base pairs, first estimated to take 50 years to complete–which in the initial project endeavor, took just ten years, and can now be achieved in one week. This phenomenon is akin to the first attempts to circumnavigate the world, lay down the first trans-continental rail system, launch the first human into space and return them safely.

These examples tell a similar story — the application of available information to a large scale problem that eventually lead to new areas of study, solutions, new businesses and new economic models. The key will be in designing the tools in information management that provides greater insight, unlock answers and ultimately create new models for business and government.

Information technology specialists around the world are invited to meet in this exciting arena – – as Information, Networking and Communication Technologies are entering the best period for innovation.

i The Globally Integrated Enterprise, Palmisano, S.J., Foreign Affairs, May-June 2006

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