Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009, a new year for innovation

We are at a critical juncture for our country. If we are to lead the global economy, improve the quality of life for all Americans and strengthen our national security, we need to invest in science and technology. It really is shocking to me, that for all its impact on everyday life, the technology industry has had insufficient clout in Washington and throughout the United States. We are challenged by the economy; education; security; health care and government management, and now all of this is converging with the seating of a new Congress and the inauguration of a President. It’s time to have your voice heard (Yes, that means you -- the tech exec reading this blog!)

The good news is, President-elect Obama appreciates the critical role innovation will play in addressing those challenges.
(As and aside, I would encourage everyone to (re)read Obama's comprehensive Science & Technology Policy (pdf), in which he promised to double the federal investment in basic research and address the “grand challenges” of the 21st century.) And as most of us geeks know, 61 Nobel laureates in science publically endorsed Obama’s technology & science initiatives, which to date, this is the highest number of Nobel laureates ever to endorse one candidate in particular.

With Obama set to argue for urgent, massive government spending, and what is likely to be a $1.2-trillion deficit, lobbyists are saying that any stimulus should be directed at technology firms. A report just released by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation says that spending $30 billion in taxpayers' money in 2009 on broadband infrastructure, health IT, and electric grid technologies could create or save approximately 949,000 U.S. jobs. More than half of those jobs, the report claims, would be in small businesses.
(see article)

I have personally been a long-time proponent of “grassroots to global” initiatives and commend the leadership of Chris Hansen, AeA President & Chief Executive Officer, alongside Phillip J. Bond, ITAA President, in merging the two trade associations’ memberships and programs. The new entity will be known as the Technology Association of America.

The merger, which closed on January 1st, will give rise to a stronger voice for the technology industry by bringing together the largest number of tech companies though out the United States in a united federal lobbying operation. The new organization, representing 1500+ member companies, will advocate on technology issues in Washington and state capitals across the country and provide programs in every industry center.

“With the onset of a new year, we are faced with many more obstacles and opportunities,” said AeA Chariman Peter J. Bondi. “The consolidation of these two great associations offers the technology industry a strong voice on Capitol Hill and extends the new administration a united partner to foster innovation and address the challenges ahead.”
(see more)

The association will offer policy leadership, networking, business development, standards development, market forecasting, research and a robust suite of affinity offerings and member services. In addition, an exclusive membership in the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) – a network of 69 technology associations in countries around the world – and offices in Beijing and Brussels, will round out The Technology Association of America’s robust, grass roots-to-global capability for the technology industry at large.
(learn more about WITSA

So as President-elect Barack Obama tackles some of the most daunting challenges in recent history, I hope the technology community makes a deeper commitment in having their voices heard. Get involved. Be part of the Technology Association of America.

New Year Resolutions for Techies

posted by Winny Ho

AeA LA Council
Executive Committee
2009 Marketing Chair

Winny Ho recently accepted the position of Executive Committee Marketing Chair for the AeA Los Angeles Council. In this capacity, she will be coordinating outreach and programming in conjunction with Lisa Leight who is in her 2nd term of the Executive Committee Membership Chair.

She asked that I post the below entry. Thanks Winny! (Follow Winny on Twitter)

Raise your hand if you've made a New Year’s Resolutions this year. Got your hand up? (Use the other one to pat yourself on the back... Hokey? Cheesy? Tony Robbins-esque? Yes, all of the above.)

It’s a distinctly human endeavor to try to better oneself. If you ask anyone else in the animal kingdom – your dog, cat, or parakeet – they probably think they are fine just the way they are. You will find only humans at those night Spanish language classes, buying exercise equipment from infomercials, and checking themselves into rehab.

Let’s celebrate the process of trying to be better. We may not succeed at every attempt to lose the last 5 lbs or eat more vegetables, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. It’s hard to change…almost impossible. But it can be done. Look at Oprah: she’s successfully lost and kept off 80 lbs…oops, scratch that example.

I hope I fare better in keeping my New Year’s Resolution, which is to face my heart-stopping fear of public speaking. Specifically, I resolve to attend at least two Toastmasters meetings every month. Wish me luck; I will need all the good thoughts you can send my way when I’m sweating bullets right before my first extemporaneous speech.

Think about what fear you and your company could conquer in 2009. Companies have resolutions too, but they go by fancier names – objectives, business plans, metrics, scorecarding, etc. What will you do differently in 2009 to improve your company, team, or career? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone of doing things the same old way? Change is not for the faint of heart. Living outside your comfort zone is scary. If you are brave enough to take on behavioral change (that’s psychology-speak for a resolution), get comfortable with the discomfort that comes with doing something new.

If you’re ready to jump onto the resolution bandwagon, let us introduce you to a few new ideas for improving your business in 2009. The AeA will be offering up a stimulating and provocative set of programs next year to push you out of your comfort zone – come ready to discover new perspectives, start a dialogue, and develop new skills. The big ideas are all around you and they may already be inside your head; you just have to be ready to see them and take action. Let the AeA LA Council help your business make and keep its resolutions in ‘09. But if you decide to buy that gym membership – sorry, we can’t help you there.