In May 2009, in the midst of a global economic crisis, a distinguished set of speakers took the stage at the Nokia Theater in New York City. They spoke of innovation as part of the World Innovation Forum. Speaker after speaker stressed the continued importance of innovation during lean economic times. A not-so-subtle theme emerged again and again: The United States is no longer the fastest growing market for high-tech innovation.
In October 2009, in the context of a “jobless recovery” from the economic crisis, a different set of speakers took the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. They were business leaders lecturing at the World Business Forum. A not-so-subtle variant of the same theme was played out: The United States was no longer the world’s banker. Much of the money to drive innovation and technology was now held overseas.
Countless high-tech advancements of the last several decades have arisen from the innovative efforts of entrepreneurs in the United States. Startups sprang up on both coasts of the country and tapped into plentiful quantities of venture capital to propel ideas into globally distributed products.
Many of the greatest high-tech inventions were built on the backs of Baby Boomers working on applications, networks, databases, and information storage systems. The combination of these technologies fueled both the growth of the Internet and the dot-com boom.
Ten years later, innovation experts showed up in New York City and asked a fundamental question about high-tech innovation in the United States: “Is it over?”
For startup companies looking to address global markets, it may very well be. A global footprint may be required in the new world order.
What about large corporations? Can they still drive innovation that addresses global markets?
The answer is yes, but only for those corporations that fundamentally alter their internal processes and begin to effectively innovate with global influence. Innovative behavior must be globally distributed and cultivated throughout their organizations.
In the next few series of posts I’d like to review some of the predictions that came out of those conferences in 2009, and analyze the 2011 wisdom of pursuing a career in high-tech innovation at multi-national corporations.
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