The Future of U.S. Innovation Has Flatlined

We read a fascinating (and disturbing) interview this past weekend in the San Jose Mercury News with New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. The interview focused on Friedman’s new book The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, in which he argues that political and technological changes during the past decade have leveled the global playing field.

What this means is that people almost anywhere in the world can access the technology necessary to innovate, build companies, compete and create wealth.

Let’s face it – the United States doesn’t have the same technological and competitive advantages it did a decade ago, even in the ever-changing human capital landscape. In fact, a recent Gartner strategic analysis report on the E-Recruitment software market states that the space is saturated and there is no true innovative leader. Outsourcing, offshoring, open sourcing, the technological growth coming out of India and China, increased global collaboration and innovation, web-based technologies, wireless technologies – all of these changes are eliminating any competitive advantage we had when it comes to innovating new products and services in workforce planning, applicant tracking, benefits administration, organizational development, training and development, etc.

America needs to make some changes, and soon. HR technology companies should be at the forefront of helping to recapture our technological glory and growth, because their products and services encompass American workers regardless of industry.

We must stop our spiral into mediocrity. Here are some thoughts and recommendations from Thomas Friedman to help us do just that (edited and summarized from the San Jose Mercury News interview):