Developing a Thriving and Inclusive Digital-First Economy


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Co-Chairs of the Digital Economy Board of Advisors Zoë Baird and Mitchell Baker oversee the September 30, 2016 meeting.
Co-Chairs of the Digital Economy Board of Advisors Zoë Baird and Mitchell Baker oversee the September 30, 2016 meeting.

Guest blog post by Co-Chairs of the Digital Economy Board of Advisors Zoë Baird, CEO and President of the Markle Foundation, and Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation.

The Digital Economy Board of Advisors advises the Secretary of Commerce and Department leadership on ways to enable every American to fully embrace and participate in the digital economy, and to create opportunity for more American businesses to engage, innovate and thrive.

We are in the midst of a transition from an economy with a growing digital component, to an economy where digital issues are of first and foremost importance. Four months ago the Digital Economy Board of Advisors (DEBA) was charged with an ambitious agenda to advise the Department of Commerce on how to navigate and respond to this transition. We are honored to co-chair this accomplished group of leading technologists, business leaders, social sector executives and expert policy makers.

Recognizing the need to make progress on a host of broad, challenging issues, DEBA developed three working groups and a coordinators’ committee to analyze the state of play and develop concrete and actionable recommendations in the following areas:

  • How to measure the impact of the digital economy on GDP, productivity, economic security and individual satisfaction;
  • How to approach the radically changing future of jobs and work in the digital economy;
  • How to bring the benefits of digital platforms to all businesses, including small and medium sized enterprises, to improve their ability to innovate, compete, and scale; and
  • How to reimagine and transform the Department of Commerce into the Digital Economy Department, and to give the digital economy its due priority within the U.S. Government.

This past week the Board convened for its second public meeting at the Mozilla offices in Mountain View, California to review the outputs of our work to date. Each of the working groups presented their initial discussion drafts, meant to create a space for broader conversation with the Board and to invite additional input from a variety of voices.

Through our discussions insights emerged around several key issues, including encouraging the Department of Commerce to engage with the tech sector to:

  • develop innovative models that better connect people to high-quality, minimal-time, and low-cost training programs for the most high-demand skills;
  • foster solutions that encourage and facilitate the growth and usage of digital platforms among SMEs;
  • protect the benefits that such platforms hold for businesses in the global marketplace; and,
  • develop more accurate measures for the impact of emerging digital activities on the economy.

Moving forward, we believe deeply in the need to expand the dialogue and receive input from the public, and we will continue to seek additional contributions from the public and experts from the field to develop DEBA’s agenda and findings over the coming months. It is critical that the digital economy offer opportunities to all, and to accomplish that goal we must hear from a broad spectrum of voices.

DEBA is poised to inform and advise the next administration on how to hit the ground running as leaders of smart government digital strategies and as promoters of the American digital economy. DEBA is eager to serve as a significant resource and partner for the incoming leadership of the Commerce Department.

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Last updated: 2016-10-03 14:03

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