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Don’be surprised by the question because outsourcing, free trade and jobs will be a huge issue in the coming election and it all revolves around the question of whether or not a networked world is good or bad for average Americans. And don’t assume that the quick answer is “yes,” because it is a lot more complicated than that.
The WSJ has a great piece today on Alan Blinder, a preeminent liberal economist who is now warning that up to 30 million jobs will go in the US as a result of technology and the spread of digital networks around the world. Unless we revamp our education system and the way we retrain, Blinder warns that this will hurt many Americans deeply and have serious political consquences.
Corporate managers see the world as a single entity these days, with free flowing goods, services and technology moving seamlessly—or with little economic friction. At the very top, there is a global class of people who flow effortlessly as well around the world.
But for most folks, this isn’t true. And I don’t mean assembly line workers, I mean engineers, accountants, lawyers, designers and lots of white-collar people. The chart in the WSJ showing “most vulnerable” starts with computer programmers and moves to data entry keyers, actuaries, film and video editors, mathematicians, medical transciptionists, interpreters, economists and then graphic designers. Hmm.. no wonder graphic designers get angry when I talk about open sourcing design.
As their work gets commoditized and shipped to China and India, what are people to do? Where do they go to get retraining? How do they decide what to study? And what are the public schools teaching kids to compete in this world?
All the innovation that is taking place today may in fact be very threatening to millions of people and we ignore it at our peril. We need a national policy to upscale our skills and focus them. This should be part of the political conversation that takes place during the presidential race.
So a new effort to promote service innovation by a consortium of universities, corporations and professional associations comes at a good time. IBM, Oracle, Cisco, Accenture, HP, Microsoft, Xerox, EMC and other companies are involved. It is called the Service Research Innovation Initiative and its goal is to promote what it calls “service science.” I prefer service innovation but call it a banana if you like, it is a major move in the right direction. It will hold its first symposium on May 30 in Santa Clara, CA.
Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.