Amid changing demographics that find us becoming a more ethnically diverse nation each day, we have weathered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, commemorated the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, begun slow but steady recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression, and re-elected the nation’s first African American president to a second term. All the while, our ability to deal with such tumult and triumph has been impacted by our collective use of technology.
Over the past ten years, America has morphed into a truly digital society in which we rely on new technologies each day to facilitate our work, play, and everything in between. At the same time, the industries that support technological growth and innovation continue to advance, forever impacting consumer costs and capabilities.
In 2003 Facebook did not exist, and Google was nine months shy of its fifth anniversary as the world’s most advanced global search engine. Cloud computing was not yet a mainstream concept or practice, and social media usage did not consume 121 billion minutes (and counting) of our time each month. For many, the Internet has become an essential part of our lives, and the products and services we access online are supported by the fastest, most reliable and affordable networks this nation has ever seen.
Today, we depend on an array of Internet access points – cable, fiber, and wireless – across a multitude of devices – tablets, PCs, and smartphones – to enhance our educational, economic and personal pursuits. With over $66 billion invested in broadband infrastructure in 2012 alone, 95% of Americans have access to some form of high-speed Internet and more than 200 million Americans are currently enjoying the benefits of being online.
While the technology and telecommunications sectors continue to advance, these industries are also creating a more competitive marketplace from which consumers benefit.
Gone are the days when people could only watch cable television at home courtesy of a set top box. Today, people with smartphones, laptops or tablets can enjoy their favorite programs online using the mobile TV application of their choice. No longer must entrepreneurs travel cross country to meet with team members or potential clients; and a students’ academic pursuits are not constrained by the faculty present in their own schools. Because of video chat services available on everything from Xboxes to PCs, real face time is made possible at the click of a button.
The tech and communications sectors, in being directly responsive to consumer demand, have found themselves in the business of offering a variety of services at a range of prices to ensure consumers get the products they want on the devices they choose at prices they can afford.
Bottom line: these are not the companies of ten years ago, and the market is more competitive than it’s ever been. Innovation – in both products and business models – drives growth, and real innovation in necessary to support our nation’s economic growth and consumer demand.