Even in today’s business world there is more cutting edge technology than one person can possibly utilize (whether you use cloud computing, broadband, or mobile communications in a public or private business). However, with the digital technology that is available, many companies could increase their efficiency and maximize their capacity to service their customers. Successful companies spend about 2.5% of their budget on technology, and government spends even less. How does a private or public company know what digital technology will work best for them? How can technology improve collaboration and participation of those involved?

Those individuals who are trying to initiate digital technology changes in their organizations would find it helpful to read Darrell M. West’s concise book, The Next Wave: Using Digital Technology to Further Social and Political Innovation (Brookings Institute, 2011. 238pp. Hardcover. ₤18.99/$26.95. ISBN: 9780815721888). West, the Vice President and Director of Governance Studies and founder of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institute, has written a Brookings Focus Book that gives an overview of what steps to take in order to effect a positive change using digital technology in a public or private organization. West’s interpretation of effective innovation is divided into five keys (steps). West stresses that technology can help improve federal agencies. The most common complaint from the customer is a “lack of responsiveness” (for example, a customer asks a question by email, but never gets a response). Electronic surveys could be used by agencies to track the services that an agency offers and provide feedback on the customer experience so that the agency services could be improved. Many agencies have used such social media since 2004, and because this technology has been implemented, public satisfaction has steadily increased. West’s ideas on healthcare, however, involve more than social media. West gives as an example “Patients Like Me” (a company that has over 110,000 patients that share information).

Using cloud computing alone could actually save money and revolutionize communication on many levels. West lists the many benefits of this technology as “on-demand self-service, ubiquitous network access, location-independent resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measured service.” Others dispute these savings, arguing that agencies would spend more to actually use the technology. West suggests the main problem with cloud computing is that consumers worry that “a wispy and ever-moving cloud will not protect their private information.”

West makes the case that, whether it is a public or private organization, digital technology can optimize savings and improve customer satisfaction. Many feel, including West, that broadband encourages development and generates new businesses. Whether governmental agencies will get more involved or not, many private industries have recognized digital technology’s potential. Business owners and governmental heads that wish to benefit from the digital technology available should read West’s book for its suggestions—waiting for the average citizen’s confidence in our economy to improve is not the answer.

– Victoria A. Redd

Staff Editor, Journal Offices of the University of Florida Levin College of Law
reddva@law.ufl.edu

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