It isn’t hard to rattle off a long list of problems facing the world these days. The systems that make the world work – food, healthcare, traffic, energy, and financial systems to name a few – are in dramatic need of change. They are all in need of becoming smarter to meet the needs of a complex world.
On November 6th, IBM’s CEO, Sam Palmisano, outlined a new agenda for addressing many of these issues – for building a smarter planet – during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.
In the speech, he outlines a number of the challenges faced today by people, governments, businesses and organizations. A lack of clean water for a fifth of the world’s population. Energy systems that waste more energy than they produce. Traffic in our cities that clogs roads and chokes economic growth.
Clearly there are no simple solutions for these problems.
Technology can play a big role in helping find answers to these problems. While the Internet currently connects more than a billion people, in just a few years, it will connect more than a trillion objects. Everything from cell phones, cars, roads, buildings, and even objects in nature itself, will have embedded technology and be connected to one another, enabling tremendous advances in how we understand how the world works and make smarter decisions to make it work better.
But technology is just part of the solution. Without the people, policies and culture to inspire and execute the change, nothing ultimately gets done. From Sam’s speech:
Leaders will need to hone their collaboration skills, because we will need leadership that pulls across systems. We will need to bring together stakeholders and experts from across business, government and academia, and all of them will need to move outside their traditional comfort zones.
I’m struck by the questions this raises. What investments need to be made by both public and private institutions? What policy issues need to be debated and resolved? What role can individual citizens and employees play in helping bring about meaningful change?
I’m also struck by the potential opportunities inherent in finding solutions to these problems.
The hope for this blog is to explore some of those opportunities. To surface some of the issues and challenges facing us as we collectively look to build a smarter world.
In coming days, weeks and months, we’ll be exploring new ideas and interviewing some of the world’s smartest people on these topics to address these issues that matter to the world.
In the meantime, tell us what you think. What matters to you? What do you see in the world that needs to be smarter? And what are your ideas on how to get there? Leave a comment. Let us know. We are listening.