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Posts Tagged ‘Pro-Innovation’

Note to Commerce: Entrepreneurs need Tech Training too

September 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Last week, Commerce Secretary Locke announced the creation of a new Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship that will focus on helping entrepreneurs achieve their business goals.  According to the Washington Post blog post by “Federal Eye” Ed O’Keefe, the new department will:

…” help coordinate the federal government’s efforts to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into actual products, companies and jobs. It will also focus on education, training and mentoring issues; improving access to capital for small businesses; and help create government-backed incentives for entrepreneurs and potential investors.”

This new initiative comes at a crucial time for small and medium businesses.  Many smaller companies face mounting costs (wages, healthcare, insurance) and are struggling to stay alive in the current recession.  At the same time, most industries are witnessing a massive wave towards consolidation as big companies swallow up smaller companies whose share prices have been greatly depressed in the global economic downturn.  As noted most recently by the Economist, this trend – which is particularly prevalent in the healthcare and technology industries – presents a new challenge: how does a smaller company remain relevant in a world dominated by larger, better-funded competitors?

I believe a big part of that answer lies with technology. Web technologies and cloud computing are truly leveling the playing field thanks to innovations like email and websites which give smaller companies the same level of business efficiency and professionalism as their larger counterparts. It’s important that we train future entrepreneurs – not just on business issues, but also on the technologies that can them gain an edge in today’s fiercely competitive markets.  Educating entrepreneurs on current business productivity technologies is crucial to the success of the Administration’s efforts to revitalize the small business sector.

The Administration already recognizes the importance of technology in stimulus and job-retraining efforts.   Let’s hope they also see how important technology and effective tech education is for the entrepreneurs who will run the businesses of tomorrow.

Categories: Policy Tags: ,

Cloud for the government, by the government (with video).

September 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Launched today, the federal government’s cloud solution – apps.gov – is designed to help government agencies harness the flexibility, scalability and innovation provided by cloud services.  Even if you aren’t a federal agency looking to purchase apps online, the site is worth visiting to understand the approach of the Obama White House to cloud technologies.  The explanatory video illustrating the benefits of cloud computing is brilliant – with a different background theme, it could be mistaken for one of the more instructive episodes of Schoolhouse Rock.  Most importantly, the video clearly spells out how the Obama White House defines cloud technologies while highlighting its benefit for government: scalability (pay as you go), ease of implementation, reliable service with 24/7 support, freed up resources and of course, environmental sustainability.

Plus, apps.gov opens up the market for smaller, innovative companies to market their applications to government clients.  This is significant when you consider that the government currently spends $75 billion annually on IT. Portions of the site have yet to be populated – you cannot yet store data or host proprietary web applications through GSA’s Cloud IT services (but these offerings are coming soon).  What you can do – as a federal or affiliated state agency is purchase applications through existing GSA contractors, including offerings from Google and Salesforce.com.  Also featured – in the site’s specially designated “social media apps” section are links to numerous free applications that are being offered directly by companies like Blip TV, Socrata, and Slide Share.

Also interesting is how well the site works towards the goal of centralizing purchasing and research of IT services across federal agencies.  As federal CIO Vivek Kundra said today, “[I]n these tough economic times, the federal government must buy smarter.”  Centralizing purchases is standard business practice in large corporations and organizations, but amazingly, yet to be adopted by the federal government.  I wish them well in this noble endeavor.  For more, read Kundra’s blog post at whitehouse.gov, which includes some insights on how the White House plans to approach the important and unresolved subject of privacy and security in the cloud.