It seems to me that the most important emerging driver of success in the economy that must drive innovation and value delivery, is the intersection of technical capability and power generation.
Oil has driven the geo politics of the C 19 & C20. The US became a manufacturing giant by finding oil, and was a net exporter until the 70′s, then became an importer. Now thanks to the technology commonly called “Fracking” enabling (for better or worse) the extraction of gas reserves the US is again an exporter, and cheaper energy is in the early stages of revitalising US manufacturing.
Early C20 imperialism was driven by energy, the French and British in The Middle East, British and Dutch in SE Asia, The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour because of the oil embargo, Hitler went after the Caucuses for the oil, it is a long story.
Now we have another revolution on our hands.
We are no longer looking to conserve energy, which has been the mantra since the 70′s oil shock, now we are seeking to harness it from other sources.
The tops of our buildings with rooftop PV, which has dropped 80% in cost over a real short time, wind, tide. Solar however is the most obvious, and potentially sensational advances are being made that will transform economies.
In this state (NSW, Australia) we are arguing about the sale of the “poles and wires” of the power distribution companies to fund public works, schools, and so on. Vital projects, but at the same time we are cutting the R&D that will deliver us the world of tomorrow.
Any idiot who has thought about this stuff (even I could figure it out in a number of posts over the years) would come to the conclusion that just like computing, power generation will become distributed, so, rather than argue about the disposition of yesterdays assets, we should be considering how we build a leverage those of today, let alone tomorrow. Moore’s Law in reverse, combined with the explosion of adjacent technologies.
Companies like IBM with their Deep Thunder and Smarter cities initiatives are driving the research agenda, Germany outdoes the US in spreading the impact of innovation from the lab to the manufacturing operations, and in Australia with the abundant easily accessible sunlight in a politically stable country we are ignoring all this in favour of short term political tit-bits, trivia, and populist bullshit, mixed in with the occasional poorly sold but sensible objective.
Will we ever wake up????