The state of global innovation and how we can wrestle the crown back from China

Thomas McGrath
Thomas McGrath
Feb 03, 2011

Recent news blurbs of China’s ability to seemingly innovate faster than any other country is a bit disturbing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s clearly good news for China, but its bad news for the rest of the countries who have been pushing innovation for so long.

Granted, China is credited with many innovations in early human history including things like Soldiers gunpowder, the compass, paper, printing, and a slew of other things we take for granted everyday. And, from the news, when it comes to technology, you may be inclined to believe that China is now catching up to the rest of the world. China spent the better part of the last 20 years reverse engineering and duplicating the world’s technologies. Why? So, they could understand it, document how it works, and then innovate beyond the inadequacies. A very smart and industrious people.

Have you ever heard of a fake iPhone? During a recent trip of mine to China a friend purchased a fake Chinese iPhone at the Pearl Market in Beijing. It worked for about 2 weeks. Despite that, there was very little (except for the poorly worded English instructions) about the phone different from the US version.

So, we hear that China is pushing technology innovation and guess what? – reports are that they Smog are now also pushing green innovation. This is the country slammed just a couple years ago for the amount of smog during the Olympic games. I’ve been to China many times and I can tell you – the “Beijing flu” is a very real thing, where you can’t stay in Beijing for more than a few days before you develop a continuing throat and nasal “phenomena” that takes weeks to dry out once you are out of the country.

How is this happening? How is China innovating so quickly?

Once again, I have to credit a smart and industrious people. I’ve seen them in action and in person Solar valleyand am constantly awed at their will to survive and move ahead in even the most dire situations. That said, its really more about lack of innovation by the countries who used to provide global innovative leadership. It’s the tortoise and the hare scenario. We (the US in particular) have slacked off innovating for a number of reasons. I could list all of those out here in a commentary, but the one primary reason that needs highlighted is the state of the economy’s effect on business. Businesses have been trying hard just to keep the lights on over the last few years due to the economic situation. Revenue that was once used to invest and feed business technology is now being banked for a rainy day. Business innovation is stagnate.

So, how do we change that? How do we put ourselves back into the global race to compete against a powerhouse like China?

Some folks believe that “the cloud” is the answer, and that may be part of the solution, but the cloud is just a small part of the big picture. What the cloud is attempting to do is to provide ways to save the business money. If businesses can squeeze out every bit of savings possible in the organization, that savings can be redirected toward running the business. However — again – the cloud is just a small part of the overall savings that can be achieved. Don’t forget that. Don’t get caught up in marketing hype that leads you to believe it’s the ultimate cost saver.

OK, so clearly, businesses need to innovate and compete, and “the cloud” is only a possible part of the solution. What else is there?

There are so many pieces to running an efficient business, with excess happening everywhere. One of the key aspects of the business where the most excess is found, unfortunately, is within the IT (technology) group. This is why “the cloud” seems so palatable to so many organizations right now and why it’s making serious inroads into boardroom discussions and decision making sessions.

We, at 1E, have spent the better part of the last 12 years identifying IT excess within organizations. From simple things like shutting down PCs to save money and energy (PC WakeUp and NightWatchman), to complex, patented things optimizing the network for software and OS deployments (Nomad Enterprise), and cloud and datacenter efficiency (NightWatchman Server Edition), 1E has always been completely about producing savings and invigorating innovations in the business. Every single one of our products saves time, money, and environmental resources. Using our products you are able to actually fund your innovation using the money saved. So, at the end of the day, the business still runs as normal (and at a higher peak) but it’s also able to push forward with innovation and competitiveness. In fact, there’s not a single one of our customer case studies that doesn’t talk about cost savings and innovations that have been afforded to our customers just by using our products. Our solutions have saved our customers $530m in energy costs alone, cutting CO2 emissions by 4.3 million ton.

China is not the only smart and industrious society. That has been clearly evident over 100’s of years. However, trends suggest that the global society is caught in another swing of the pendulum. Unless we do things now, it may be another 100 years before innovation and competition can be balanced.

As your company is, indeed, planning solutions around cost savings, make sure you add 1E in the mix. An investment in 1E is an investment in global innovation, competitiveness, and leadership. Its an investment in the future for all of us.

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