Reed: Eyeing the world from Davos

The mood among industry and economic mavens attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week was optimistic. Demand for technology, which slumped after the Year 2000 boom and during the economic slowdown, is on the rise again.

One anticipated phenomenon in 2004 is a surge in demand for Wi-Fi, or wireless

local-area network technology. Michael Dell, chairman and chief executive officer of Dell Inc., said hot spots, or public venues offering wireless access, are the fastest growing market in the United States.

An Egyptian government minister observed how quickly airports and hotels were moving to give travelers wireless access. Wi-Fi fits the expectations of the instant-messaging generation and the global road warriors of business. But the availability of a single device to handle the array of wireless technologies including Global System for Mobile Communications, General Packet Radio Service, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is estimated to be at least 18 months away.

Interest in Internet applications remains high. That is most evident in developing countries, which have tremendous potential for providing access to education and business intelligence. Chinese officials are investing in the country's infrastructure at such a pace that one U.S. executive suggested that in the not-too-distant future, the Chinese may visit America to observe a quaint society. He believes that the United States runs the risk of falling behind in the global marketplace because of its lack of investment in the next-generation Internet.

Everybody at the forum recognized the political implications of a U.S. election year. Yet for leaders of global companies, the costs are compelling. In the past year, 3Com Corp. transitioned from having 90 percent of its engineers based in the United States to having 80 percent in China. What is the impetus for such a move? Companies are looking for a healthy product market, accessible capital, a well-educated workforce, protection of intellectual property and competitive costs.

As with the diffusion of manufacturing jobs, U.S. communities are concerned about the loss of technology jobs, while nations on the receiving end expect to boost their economies. India has made a major play for outsourced technology work in such areas as call centers and software programming, but there is expectation that other white-collar functions, such as accounting, are not far behind.

One leading economist suggested that U.S. worries may be overstated. An argument can be made that reducing the cost of goods and services makes them more accessible to small and midsized companies and thereby fuels growth.

Finally, the focus on solutions and results is crucial to business and government leaders alike. Worldwide, executives are demanding solutions. There is little interest in buying technology parts. Even in the area of security, which continues to be a priority, one executive said, "I want a solution that is secure; I am not interested in buying security packages."

Reed is president of Acquisition Solutions Inc. Previously, she served as chief information officer for the Agriculture Department.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.


  • Shutterstock image (by wk1003mike): cloud system fracture.

    Does the IRS have a cloud strategy?

    Congress and watchdog agencies have dinged the IRS for lacking an enterprise cloud strategy seven years after it became the official policy of the U.S. government.

  • Shutterstock image: illuminated connections between devices.

    Who won what in EIS

    The General Services Administration posted detailed data on how the $50 billion Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions contract might be divvied up.

  • Wikimedia Image: U.S. Cyber Command logo.

    Trump elevates CyberCom to combatant command status

    The White House announced a long-planned move to elevate Cyber Command to the status of a full combatant command.

  • Photo credit: John Roman Images /

    Verizon plans FirstNet rival

    Verizon says it will carve a dedicated network out of its extensive national 4G LTE network for first responders, in competition with FirstNet.

  • AI concept art

    Can AI tools replace feds?

    The Heritage Foundation is recommending that hundreds of thousands of federal jobs be replaced by automation as part of a larger government reorganization strategy.

  • DOD Common Access Cards

    DOD pushes toward CAC replacement

    Defense officials hope the Common Access Card's days are numbered as they continue to test new identity management solutions.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group