Skip to content

Alice Rivlin explores how advances in technology are changing business.

Topic: How Technology is Impacting Business


Rivlin:    I’m Alice Rivlin, and I’m a senior fellow at the Brooking’s Institution. 


Question: What innovations will define the next economy?Rivlin:    I think we’re on a positive innovation cycle which is definitely not over there are lots of things happening in new electronic application and new healthcare applications and that’s going to power our economy going forward.  It is not a moment in which I think anyone can say, we’ve run out of ideas.  At the moment we’ve run out of credit.  Now, we aren’t financing people’s new ideas but we need to turn that around. 


Question: Are there risks to avoiding technology investments?Rivlin:    There is certainly risk of not investing in technology.  There are bigger risks of investing in the wrong technology.  The landscape is littered with corporations and government agencies that revamp their computer systems quickly and it cause more chaos than the advantage of investing in new technology. So the bottom line is got to do it very carefully and have some very skilled people doing it. 


Question: What are the biggest challenges to technological change?Rivlin:    Computers and telecommunications have revolutionize our, the way we conduct business and the way we conduct our lives.  The problems are that we’re overwhelmed with too much information and too much noise going on.  I think the real problem of surviving these wonderful innovations is to keep a bit centered to this matters for business, it matters for ordinary people and not get overwhelmed and distracted by the rapidity and the volume of the information flow. 


Question: How has technology changed government?Rivlin:    Technology is helping the government a lot and could help more basically a lot of things go more smoothly.  The government is involved in huge information collection operations it essentially runs a huge insurance companies called the social security a lot of information needs to be collected in process to quickly, that’s certainly a change the way the government operate.  One of the agencies that has had most benefit but also most trouble in getting into the modern computer age is the internal revenue service.  Taxes are certainly processes more quickly and efficiently than they used to be but there is a long way to go in improving those computer systems.  Technology is also given average people more access to government information and help.  You can go on lots of websites and find out what’s available to help your particular business or help you as a tax payer on a particular problem.  There’s a long way to go but both the federal government and state and local governments are much more effective than they used to be because they have taken advantage of modern technology. 


Question: Should all corporations have a Chief Technology Officer?Rivlin:    Most major government agencies have achieved technology officer and ought to have most states and cities do as well.  They, they clearly technology is extremely important to the functioning of any large organization whether it’s a corporation or a government agency and somebody very highly qualified has to be in charge.