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New agenda for the World's Nations

The world's nations have a new agenda, and governments have to take note because it is hitting them by storm.

This article originally appeared on the BeyeNETWORK.

What is the new agenda that countries have been adopting, formally or informally, over the last few years?  It is a simple one organized around these three basic facts:

  1. Knowledge is the new organizing principle for society.

  2. Cyberspace is the new medium for knowledge transmission and capture.

  3. Competitiveness depends on collaboration and knowledge sharing through cyberspace.

First: Knowledge is the new organizing principle for society.

We spoke at length about this in a previous article so we won’t dwell on this point.

Second: Cyberspace is the new medium for knowledge transmission and capture.

What seems obvious to many of us is not necessarily so to a lot of people. In particular, when you have major investments in legacy operations and processes, it is not easy to change. Yet, the world has already changed. The Internet changed it, and it is never going to be the same.

The new world is one where larger gross sales are transacted on eBay than in Sears; where billions of songs are shared over the Internet; where an oil company adds a couple of “Libraries of Congress” of seismographic data daily; where surveillance cameras in major cities transmit billions of bytes per day; where YouTube hosts billions of video streams per month; where by 2010 it is expected that cell phone cameras will be capturing half a trillion images a year.

And then we have wikis and blogs – starting with Wikipedia, which at the end of last year had over 6 million articles on all conceivable topics contributed by an army closing in on 100,000 individuals.

And all this user-generated data is the collective intelligence from which much business intelligence (BI) and knowledge is derived. It is cyberspace where this is happening, and governments are paying attention.

Third: Competitiveness depends on collaboration and knowledge sharing through cyberspace.

Nations need to be competitive if they are to continue on a path toward economic progress. Even industrialized countries face this reality, and they establish their national priorities and policies accordingly. As we have indicated before, there seems to be a strong correlation between the countries that are consistently rated the most competitive and those that have the highest percentage of their population online.

And this last statement starts to point the way for government action. There is the need to embrace knowledge management as the path to a Knowledge Economy. They must increase substantially the percentage of the population online and provide the necessary infrastructure for competitiveness by investing in education, cyber-infrastructure and innovation.

But in order for this to be successful, nations must also comply with what economist J.J. Villamil refers to as the “five C’s”: commitment, continuity, consensus, coherence and context:

  • There must be a national commitment in order to dedicate the needed resources over the needed time to generate the critical mass to make it happen.

  • There has to be continuity because policies must bridge administrations if they are to be fruitful.

  • Society at large must be in agreement with the direction and the programs; hence consensus is necessary.

  • Systemic action to reach a common objective is needed across multiple dimensions; hence coherence is required for it to hang together.  

  • And a broad context is essential not only to understand what is happening but what is going to happen through a foresight, or business intelligence, function.

I am not sure that our own country, the U. S. of A., would score well on this list of critical success factors. Let us help our governments, both here and abroad, in pushing ahead our national agendas by paying close to attention these five C’s.

Dr. Barquin is the President of Barquin International, a consulting firm, since 1994. He specializes in developing information systems strategies, particularly data warehousing, customer relationship management, business intelligence and knowledge management, for public and private sector enterprises. He has consulted for the U.S. Military, many government agencies and international governments and corporations.

Dr. Barquin is a member of the E-Gov (Electronic Government) Advisory Board, and chair of its knowledge management conference series; member of the Digital Government Institute Advisory Board; and has been the Program Chair for E-Government and Knowledge Management programs at the Brookings Institution. He was also the co-founder and first president of The Data Warehousing Institute, and president of the Computer Ethics Institute. His PhD is from MIT. Dr. Barquin can be reached at

Editor's note: More government articles, resources, news and events are available in the BeyeNETWORK's Government Channel. Be sure to visit today!

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