03 Jun Wisconsin’s “Real-Time" Economy
MADISON, WI – Wisconsin’s economy needs new thoughts, new processes, and new innovations, but the term “The New Economy” no longer works. “The New Economy” is an old worn-out phase used in Silicon Valley in the late 1990s is now associated with greed, lies, lavish spending and corruption as well as cute, but not profitable or sustainable business models.
The future Wisconsin Economy will unfold in a “Real-Time Economy,” in which some of Wisconsin’s businesses have unique advantages. There is no doubt that Wisconsin’s economy does need to evolve and transform itself in order to survive and grow. The direction of change in the world economy favors many of the business activities that reside in our state. It could be a very interesting future for Wisconsin if we have the vision and commitment to make it happen. This new model applies to companies of all types and sizes and to state and local governments.
The real-time economy will transform Wisconsin’s government, education, business, transportation, technology and healthcare systems by making them more agile and more responsive. This requires the strategic re-alignment of our business processes, government policies and regulations with the technologies that make information available to everyone who needs it, whenever they need it. In Wisconsin’s real- time economy, information must flow rapidly through all business processes, supply and demand chains, and cross regional and international boundaries. Our economy must stimulate collaboration and ensure maximum efficiency and responsiveness.
Wisconsin businesses have a unique role to play in creating these changes because the proving ground for the real-time economy will be in the communications, life sciences, information technology, transportation, manufacturing and healthcare industries where Wisconsin currently holds leadership positions. GE Medical Systems, Rockwell, and Johnson Controls are examples of Wisconsin companies that are now laying the foundation for “ubiquitous computing” in which a new age of GRID-based computing that manages and processes information at lower cots and without human intervention will emerge.
We recently experienced the greatest examples of real-time ubiquitous computing in the management of US combat operations in Iraq. In the last few months, we have experienced live embedded coverage of the war in Iraq, the recent space shuttle disaster and the SARS epidemic. Videophones and web Blogs have provided real-time reporting and unfiltered news delivery. The SARS outbreak unified the medical community and international healthcare system. It highlighted some of the strengths and weaknesses that influence our ability to react and respond with diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases on a global scale. When something goes wrong, we need to analyze the facts and change and implement new processes quickly. The days of over-analyzing events are gone forever.
The financial services industry, especially the stock market has operated as a global , real-time economy for over five years. Real-time news causes the market to react with swings up, down and back in the course of minutes and hours. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and other central banks around the world are becoming less and less effective in their efforts to manage local economies by adjusting the money supply and interest rates. The trend is likely to continue as the Euro gains parity with the U.S. Dollar as a reserve currency.
Everyday, millions of every-day people use instant messaging to communicate even faster than email and cell phones. We are moving into an era where almost everything will have a microchip or smart tag embedded in it. The average consumer will use a chip to pay for gas (Mobil’s Smart Pass) or pay tolls (FastTrak). Checkout counters, autos, trucks, vending machines, medical devices, cell phones, police cars, medical clinics and hospital, security systems, heating and air conditioning systems, warehouse systems and assembly lines will soon have chips that can provide real-time information and trigger automatic responses.
Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan has explained, “The remarkable surge in the availability of more timely information in recent years has enabled business management to remove large swaths of inventory safety stocks and worker redundancies. Information access in real-time has fostered marked reductions in delivery lead times and related work hours required for the production and delivery of all sorts of goods.”
The service economy is also part of it. The real-time economy is also about ubiquitous access to information, and comprehensive methods of monitoring and extracting information from complex systems and using the information to make more effective decisions in real world organizations. On-board computers currently make it possible for Air Force pilots to control modern military aircraft that would be impossible to fly using the old technology, and similar computers monitor the operation of critical flight systems of commercial aircraft and automatically notify forward ground crews of needed maintenance. This technology is currently being installed on commercial truck fleets and agricultural equipment.
John Byrnes, Executive Managing Director of investment firm, Mason Wells, says “business opportunities in the ‘Real-Time Economy, are about identifying big problems that cannot be solved with the current technology, especially those where the government regulation has mandated new standards-based solutions to industry-wide problems. “The best example he says” “can be found in healthcare where the federal government has recently mandated new rules for the exchange of medical records and new standards for reducing medical accidents” These complex problems can only be solved by applying new technology in new ways, that have never before been considered. It is very exciting.” and matching them with big markets. A real-time economy functions in real time on a global basis and without boundaries.”
In Wisconsin, GE Medical Systems, EPIC Systemsns and Aurora Healthcare are revolutionizing the patient healthcare experience with web based patient record management solutions. Small entrepreneurial companies like Merge eFilm, Teramedica and UltraVisual are making major breakthroughs the acquisition, delivery and archival of digital medical images that result in improved patient care and lower costs. The Medical College of Wisconsin and the Marshfield Clinic are working on research into personalized medicine that will allow real-time medical treatments based on the unique genetic and molecular structures of individual patients.
Wisconsin’s real-time economy is very real, and not based on hype. It reaches across the entire spectrum of local, state, national, and international borders. Real-time economies create new opportunities in the life sciences and information technology. We can also help our current economy by helping our state’s traditional businesses in tourism, transportation, manufacturing, and agriculture to operate in real time. This is big opportunity!
The real challenge is to not become overly intoxicated with the real-time idea! Let’s start logically with best practices and foster creativity and innovative thinking. Real-time will become a method and cost of doing better business. It’s a process in which technology is an enabler and not a panacea. It requires a change in the status quo. Government, education, and private industry must re-align together and all begin to collaborate.
Working in real-time is all about being open to change. It’s about being inclusive and accessible for everyone, not just a few. It’s about adaptability and not conformity or consensus building. Hopefully, Wisconsin is now ready to embrace the huge benefits of implementing a real-time economy. Let’s due it sooner rather than later!
Real-Time Economy: Part 2 06/07/03
Dynamics of Wisconsin’s “Real-Time Economy” Part 3 06/12/03