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Editor's note: This op-ed originally appeared on Re/code. Learn more about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's project: "The Internet of Everything: Data, Networks, and Opportunities."
A strong technology sector is essential for future economic growth in the United States. American technology companies already drive significant innovation, export expansion, productivity gains and wealth creation — not just in the technology sector but also within the broader economy.
It is important to keep in mind that today, however, the definition of a technology company has been blurred. Companies across nearly every industry sector think of themselves as technology companies — when others sometimes see them as manufacturers, financial institutions or logistics companies — and rightfully so. For example, 123-year-old General Electric is on the cutting edge of leveraging data from connected machines to improve both manufacturing processes and end products.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce established the Center for Advanced Technology & Innovation to highlight the role of technology in our economy and advocate for rational policy solutions that drive economic growth, spur innovation and create jobs. To do that, we will focus on four core areas: Talent, global competitiveness, capital and governance, and emerging issues — the last of which explores the future implications and rewards tied to the rise of the Internet of Things. Or, as it has recently been coined, given its broad scope — the Internet of Everything.
The emergence of the IoE holds enormous opportunity for every country, community and consumer on the planet. By bridging the digital and physical worlds, we will be connected in ways we never thought possible. And leading the way in all of these capabilities should be the U.S. and its ever-creative and ingenious private sector. Our only limits should be the horizons of our imagination — and the abilities of our free enterprise system to flourish with limited interference or imposed barriers.
The IoE spotlights core issues that America’s private sector must address proactively and dynamically. Is our policy framework nimble enough to encourage new business? How does innovation at home interact with the rest of the world? Are we creating enough new jobs, and does our workforce have the necessary skills to fill them? Are we prepared to meet emerging cyber security threats? What do these gains mean for the average American searching for opportunity?
While there are no simple solutions to these tough questions, America never shies away from a challenge. We must take a sophisticated, supportive and long-term approach to fostering our connected future. If we impose poorly conceived policies or other unnecessary restrictions on this new innovative frontier, not only will we limit our own future opportunities in this global marketplace but we will also see our competitors reap the rewards.
For more than a century, the Chamber and its members have led the way when breakthroughs changed how business operated globally. With the rise of the IoE and an even more connected planet, the Chamber will continue to bring together the finest expertise, research and insights to better understand the future of data-driven innovation and what it will take to maximize its benefits and rewards.
Success will take strong partnerships and information sharing between businesses, academia and government to maximize that potential. It will demand enhanced American competitiveness on the international stage through sensible tax structures and favorable trade agreements. Future success will also require a skilled workforce able to succeed in our modern economy. We must champion the risk takers and celebrate their entrepreneurial victories without condemning their successes or setbacks encountered along the way.
The IoE presents opportunities that the U.S. is uniquely able to seize — that is, if we can empower the private sector with the resources and policies it needs to succeed. The Chamber will help lead the way.