Alan Balutis | Technology's advance is only speeding up

A colleague has prepared a (very) brief history of human innovation ' tracing the past two centuries from the telegraph to genome mapping ' and noted that all has happened in less than 0.2 percent of human existence.

These last 40 years ' from the beginnings of the Internet through today ' make up even less time. And all this will be dwarfed in the next few years by a technology avalanche, with explosive growth in the four pillars of technology: storage, bandwidth, computing and information.

Over the last 25 years, I would point to Joseph Wright, former deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget and the driver of President Reagan's Reform '88 initiative, as a prophet before his time. If one can find the elusive documentation from that era, it's incredible to see how much under way now in terms of e-government initiatives, lines of business, infrastructure and systems consolidations, and the like had their roots in Wright's directives.

But the technology then had nowhere near the capability to enable such changes as exist today.

In our larger tech community, we just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor ' arguably the first tech start-up and the precursor to Intel. One of its eight founders was Gordon Moore, author of Moore's Law, a formula he came up with in the 1960s to predict how computer chips would double in capacity every year or two. His name and his law are intimately linked with everything that is amazing today about technology.

Finally, these last 25 years have marked a period of management reforms almost unrivaled in our nation's history. Two stand out: the Government Performance and Results Act and the Inspector General Act.

The first set the tone for all that followed in terms of focusing on outcomes and metrics. The second created a cadre of overseers and second- guessers who, if you believe their semiannual reports, have produced savings and cost avoidances that annually exceed the federal budget and ' if real ' would reduce the federal debt to close to zero. Worse, of late, we have seen dire consequences for those who dare to even question the worth, the work or the style of those who fill IG slots.

Alan Balutis is a distinguished fellow and director of North American Public Sector Consulting for Cisco Systems' Internet Business Solutions Group. He is a former IT official at the Commerce and Health and Human Services departments and a founding member of the CIO Council.


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