Clock is running

After a weekend of college and professional games, you’ll have to excuse me for revisiting the theme of football as a metaphor for life, as I wrote earlier this year.

I ended last week looking to re-energize the campaign to get connected computers into every Canadian household with school aged kids, followed up by a post expressing dismay with the initial response from Industry Canada.

We have seen a lot of announcements from various agencies that refer to the funding being relevant to a digital economy strategy, even though that strategy has never been enunciated.

Does it actually exist?

Look at the anti-spam announcements and academic research funding. Industry Minister Paradis is making an announcement later this morning for “a new initiative aimed at furthering the adoption and use of digital technologies by small and medium-sized businesses.” How can we keep making announcements without an overall strategy? How do we measure the effectiveness of all of these spending announcements if we can’t even tell whether the measures are consistent with the overall strategy?

We’re running plays without a sense of the direction we’re heading. The ball is moving, but are we staying in bounds? Are just going sideways?

As I mentioned on Friday, we were told that it would take 6-18 months to develop the digital strategy; last Thursday marked 18 months since that statement. A year ago, then Minister Clement said the strategy would be released in the Spring (i.e. 6 months ago).

This coming spring, we will formally launch our digital economy strategy. It will be a living document, one that will continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of changing times. But it will be an important milestone in Canada’s path to greater competitiveness and innovation.

To be fair, we had a Spring Election and subsequent cabinet shuffle. With a new Industry Minister quarterbacking the file, it was fair to wait a little longer.

But, as Peter Nowak wrote last Friday, we’re lagging our G-8 partners in developing a digital strategy. In football terms, we’re behind by 2 touchdowns and time is running down on the clock. Without a clear strategy, how can we measure the effectiveness of the plays we have been running.

Sure, there has been legislation introduced and government spending in the name of furthering the digital strategy, but how do we know we’re moving the ball in the right direction, or using the right combination of plays.

We need leadership – a digital quarterback. Right now, the team is looking at the sidelines and the clock is running.

Your comments are welcome – extra points for maintaining the football theme!

4 thoughts on “Clock is running”

  1. You should be aware of a new study of broadband usage in the U.S. by the NTIA,available at this link.

    One of the findings, particularly relevant to your discussion:

    “The most important reasons households without broadband Internet or dial-up service
    gave for not subscribing were: (1) lack of need or interest (47 percent); (2) lack of
    affordability (24 percent); and (3) inadequate computer (15 percent).”

    George Hariton

  2. That first reason “lack of need or interest” may be a euphemism for affordability – i.e. the “need” may change if the cost of the computer or connection was more in line with my willingness – or ability – to pay.

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