How do you compete in a global society? How can a country like the U.S., which was the Ferrari of economic growth in the last century, compete in a world that was once getting around in mo-peds and is now driving Jaguars?
Samuel Palmisano, former chairman, president and CEO of IBM says, "You can't postpone the day of reckoning." He offered a 4-point plan for succeeding in a global economy at The Economist's Buttonwood Conference in New York City today.
- You have to have some unique value. What is your differentiating value proposition?
- Every society must simultaneously invest in the future and improve its muscle tone. We have to address our financial deficits, but you can’t cost-cut your way to innovation. Infrastructure in the U.S. requires a $2.2 trillion investment according the Army Corps of Engineers.
- You have to remember that there’s an AND in R and D. It takes time for an idea to develop if it ever sees the light of day, and sometimes it derives from the original research.
- Markets alone are not enough and government has a crucial role to play. I think bigger vs. smaller government is the wrong debate. We need smarter government. We need deep subject expertise infused in everything government does. They’re fighting crime with data. NYC built a crime center based on analyzing data. Ask—are people being trained in this thinking? Traffic management used to mean more roads. Not any more. Data and pricing incentives are as important to developed countries as the quality and maintenance of the roads. How about emergency responding? In Rio, they’re building smart systems to get ahead of rainstorms, mudslides, etc. In terms of government, it’s not the size of government—it’s how smart we are.
- Data is a natural resource. Think beyond social media and pinpoint marketing. It’s data. It will drive massive innovation.