Advancing a Shared Values Policy Framework is the key to Innovation and Development Goals

We are living through one of the most exciting periods of technological innovation in human history. Rapid digitization, the coming ubiquity of mobile technologies and services, and the convergence across new and traditional industries is reshaping global supply chains, research and development, consumer behavior, and everything in between.  Pushing the boundaries of innovation and ideas through a policy framework which represents our shared values and openness is the ideal approach. To that end, the free flow of goods and services will give businesses and governments the tools they need to put people first and help them maximize their potential.

Most established industries today are converging and competing across new platforms and devices. The market for over-the-top (OTT) services is just one such example; traditional communications companies don’t just compete with one another, but now compete with big tech companies and content providers across several different platforms. Content creators and distributors are innovating with a global audience in mind.

Today, we see that every sector of the global economy is being transformed by the pace of technological advancement, digitization, and the convergence of traditional industries. Navigating the challenges associated with these profound changes will require all governments and the private sector to deepen existing partnerships and create new opportunities and investments for people to thrive. As OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría noted recently, “business can make meaningful contributions in all policy areas, ranging from education and skills, to the labor market and health, as well as tackling the pressing environmental challenges we face today.” These are global problems that require global solutions.

One recent study from the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows that investing in innovation is not enough, it pays to lead. They found that: “Even in the period after the [global] economic crisis (2011-2016), industry leaders delivered 12% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in productivity while followers managed only 2% CAGR. This widening productivity gap confirms the need to find new ways of unlocking productivity growth.” The trends explored by the WEF are only likely to grow more acute as new enabling technologies such as AI, IoT, and 5G mature and become even more integrated into the global economy.

Just as the internet doesn’t have borders, the policy that regulates it and its successors should be constructed in a way that is open, harmonized, and flexible, particularly given the fast pace of digital innovation and the nature of digital commerce. It’s also important that policy frameworks apply evenly to everyone thereby leveling the playing field and promoting market driven growth and innovation.

The principles of openness and the free flow of goods and services, rather than overly narrow and prescriptive regulation, more accurately reflect the realities of today’s growing digital economy.  As stated by the Business at OECD, “a country’s economic “potential relies on polices that ensure predictable, transparent, efficient and non-discriminating trade and investment conditions, and effective intellectual property conditions.”  Adherence to these principles aligns with the OECD goals of putting people first by giving them the tools and creating the market conditions where they can maximize their potential and contributions to society. These are the values to which we must align to in ensuring policies enable innovation in the 21st century.

We are proud to support ongoing efforts such as these that help to ensure that the benefits derived from the digital economy can be made available to communities everywhere.

Senior Vice President, International External & Regulatory Affairs, AT&T Services Inc.