Ken McGee: Support our services-based economy
Gartner's McGee is skeptical in what he's seen in the stimulus package proposed thus far. For example, in the current stimulus package, $79 billion is allocated for schools, "but that doesn't appear to include an infrastructure of technology," he says. Instead, the money is allocated to only brick-and-mortar improvements.
McGee adds that spending on mass transit improvements and renewable energy -- two other proposed focus areas for the stimulus package -- can't really succeed without the infusion of high technology.
McGee says it doesn't make that much sense to focus stimulus dollars on brick-and-mortar projects. In a services-based economy like ours, tax abatements and tax strategies will have a greater impact on high tech and the economy, he argues, because these strategies can induce people to invest. In the modern world, information -- not roads or buildings -- is the real infrastructure and thus increasing demand for information services is what should be encouraged, he says.
David McQueeney: Focus on broad-use information infrastructure
David McQueeney, IBM Software's CTO for the U.S. government sector and former head of the IBM Research lab in Zurich, recommends that the stimulus plan focus on technologies that touch as many other things as possible, for maximum effect.
He lists the power distribution grid, high-speed networking[es1] infrastructure, and electronic medical records as the modern era's equivalent of the interstate highway system that was created under the Eisenhower administration. That bold move led to the blossoming of manufacturing and jobs over 50 years ago. McQueeney believes a similar approach to information infrastructure projects will have similar broad benefits.
Of course, for the stimulus dollars to really have an impact, they have to be well spent. Thus, the stimulus plan's spending and results must be held as accountable as any IT department's work would be in private industry, says McQueeney. "We need to be able to say the money went in here, it was used for this and got that result." He notes there are plenty of performance measurement systems in private industry that could be used for monitoring the tech stimulus efforts.
McQueeney says that everyone needs to keep in mind what Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, recently said: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."