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What Else But Cloud Can Pull the US Economy Out of Neutral?

China Will Surpass the US In Little More than a Decade

The corn's not growin', baby.

Whoops, after having spent some time in my hometown area (and site of my personal HQ office) in Northern Illinois, I've got farm analogies on the brain.

The economy is not good there. Many thousands of manufacturing jobs disappeared in the last decade, in a three-county area with a population of barely 100,000 souls. Something needs to happen.

The economy is not good in the US as a whole either, further evidenced by new figures that showed a 1.0% annual growth rate in Q1 2011. That can be defined in layman's terms as "stuck in neutral."

Given the current growth rates of the US and China, the US will slip to #2 by the year 2022, barely more than a decade from now. In local cost-of-living terms, China will catch the US as early as two years from now, at these growth rates.

What to Do? What to Do?
The abysmal growth is being attributed to high oil prices and bad weather. To that, I say 1.) we've only had 38 years since the first oil shock in 1973 to do something about the nation's reliance on foreign oil, 2.) China has bad weather, too.

This doesn't seem like the best time to invoke the "Cloud Computing to the rescue" mantra. But honestly, do we blame electricity for brownouts? The Amazon AWS fiasco seems like another case of human error-more precisely, cutting corners and stupidly focusing on only Cloud's cost benefits.

Cloud Computing is like any other form of enterprise IT-there are traditional disciplines involved, and you have to build the same redundancy and system integrity that you would on-site. Don't blame the Cloud if you don't.

Back to the economy, the key to its growth is productivity. Cloud offers the newest opportunity for new enterprise IT productivity. Even a 10% across-the-board gain in IT productivity would add 0.7% to the US GDP, plus whatever new business this enhanced productivity would unleash.

The consumer side of Cloud Computing is also creating a gigantic market for personal apps that has already exceeded $5 billion annually in the US, according to Gartner, and will be 10X that in a few years.

Imagine, in 2014, a Cloud app market of $50 billion-that's the size of the current economy of a nice-size city like Budapest or Helsinki. For online onanism. Fantastic.

Stuck
With the dreadful prospect of politicking for the 2012 Presidential election already here-meaning that almost all politicians will now merely jockey around for position and not work to get anything done until then-it seems like the US economy is stuck up to its wheel wells in the mud.

The fact is, sober and calm analyses of the US economy are not going to get the country out of its rut. It's time to push the panic button.

The excesses of the Bush administration-you know, Gitmo, torture, the TSA, and all that nasty domestic spying-have been all but ignored by the Obama administration. The Bush administration's single-minded focus on war served to put America to sleep as its industrial sector became hollowed out and its international reputation ruined. But again, the Obama administration has done little or nothing to address these specific topics.

I hope the jobs panel headed by GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt bears fruit. I hope that Federal CIO Vivek Kundra's Cloud vision propagates throughout the country. I hope that all of the serious-minded people I meet, and the work they do, can overcome a ubiquitous national dialog that's been focused for the past several weeks on a wedding in London.

The US may not be the unique historic, exceptionalist place that many Americans perceive it to be. But it is far too important a place to be in its twilight after only 200 years, with much of the blame given to the weather.

 

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global IoT Research, (@IoT2040), with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo. He is also Editor of SYS-CON Media's Cloud Computing Journal & IoT Journal & & writes for Computerworld Philippines. He has a BA from Knox College, Technical Writing Certificate from UC-Berkeley, and conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.