miércoles, 25 de septiembre de 2013

Startup-friendly Europe

We are losing the race against the machines. That is the starting point of the book written by McAffee and Brynjolfsson that I strongly recommend to anyone. The evidence are the unemployment numbers. It is not the economic crisis what has destroyed millions of jobs but our lack of ability to take advantage of the digital wave. The economic crisis has been the trigger but not the cause. For a whole decade we have been reluctant to adapt our organisations to the digital developments and now we are being forced to do in an accelerated manner.

The solution proposed by the authors of the book is simple: education and skills, racing with the machines and not against the machines and changing our organisational models. As it is written in the book

“Organizational and institutional innovations can recombine human capital with machines to create broad-based productivity growth”

Therefore, the internet and the new production models are the key for jumping out of this crisisThat is the reason why the startup model need to be promoted: It is a new organisational model based on the technologies. Not everyone could be an startup entrepreuner, even not all the companies will be succesful with the adoption of an startup model. But the more of them we have the quicker the economic recovery will be. And the digital frontier, as it is a whole new economic sector it is the most appropiate field for the startup seeds.
For this reasons, it is quite interesting that Europe is begining to wake upThe startup manifesto (you can sign it until September 30th) appeared in the right moment, the day after that the most sucessful European technology company ever was bought by an American company. This manifesto assumes the principles lay on the table by McAffee and Brynjolfsson: "the millions of jobs lost over the past five years will never return in their old form". The startup model is seen as the key for creating new jobs based on innovation and, what is more, it could foster "the re-imagination of every single industry, holding the promise of creating new jobs and new wealth".
Certainly, the startup organisational model could be the solution to many job creation problems. It could provide us with more dynamic organisations, far away of the hierarchical classic organisation.  Not only new SME and SOHO companies should follow this organisational model to achieve success, big organisations should try also to change their culture and try to adopt some of the startup practices. But before the wide spread of the startup culture among established organisations in Europe, we need to support the creation of startups, and the Action Plan proposed jointly with the startup manifesto includes some interesting points for this purpose.

The Action Plan deserves a look. I will not be an spoiler of its contents and I will only mention two of the proposals. Firstly, the Action Plan proposes to  "Remove the requirement for data providers to store information in any given country". Personal data protection laws are popularly seen as the main barrier for the development of cloud computing. But this is partially true. These laws only establishes under which conditions the personal data can flow from country to country, the real barriers are the laws (and customs) that still sees documents as a paper based item, and oblige to have that documents inside a country, wether they contain or not personal data.

Secondly, the Action Plan proposes to complement the task that is currently under development in each Member State by its Digital Champions with a Chief Digital Officer (CDO). While the role of the Digital Champion is the promotion of the benefits of the Digital Techonologies among the society, the CDO will be responsible to ensure that this benefits are being reap in each productive sector.

Besides the proposals above, the Action Plan proposes several measures related to education, skills, funding and managing talent in Europe. As a parent I would like that some of these measures would be taken by our governments in Europe. I would like to my son and daughter a different future to the current nightmare of unemployment and economic stagnation that we are living.

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