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Securing the Benefits of Software Innovation and Growth

Software today is woven through the entire fabric of modern life — and yet software innovation continues to explode in exciting new directions, driven by dynamic forces such as cloud and mobile computing. That’s why, as I step down this week as CEO of BSA, I am optimistic about the industry’s future. Looking forward, I believe the next few decades hold even more potential for innovation and growth than we have already seen up to this point.

My only real concern in this phase of opportunity and transformation is that governments have a great deal of work to do to ensure innovators have easy access to global markets. Yet here, too, I see cause for optimism. Just look at the confluence of trade negotiations now underway globally.

In the Atlantic region, the United States and Europe Union are entering talks to forge a pact that will accelerate commerce between two economies that account for half of global output and one-third of all trade. On the other side of the globe, 11 Pacific Rim countries will soon be joined by Japan — the world’s third-largest national economy — for negotiations on the ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership. Meanwhile, 21 parties representing 47 economies are about to start work on a comprehensive agreement to liberalize trade across a broad range of services, from insurance to cloud computing. And on top of all this, another large group of countries are working to modernize and expand the international agreement that since 1997 has eliminated taxes and tariffs on a wide range of information technology products.

Not since the Uruguay Round of multilateral negotiations produced the World Trade Organization in the early 1990s has there been such a compelling opportunity for the international trading system to promote economic integration and innovation-driven growth. Governments need to seize the moment.

To fully appreciate the nature of the oportunity in front of us, consider how the emergence of cloud computing and the proliferation of powerful mobile devices — coming on top of the PC and Internet foundation already in place — have helped solidify a whole new platform for business innovation, cutting across all sectors of the economy and regions of the world. This is to the benefit of software and other IT industries that are powering the advances. But more broadly, it is creating new avenues for small and medium-sized enterprises and individual entrepreneurs all around the world to germinate ideas and amplify their impact by scaling them up in ways that used to be the exclusive province of large corporations.

To capitalize on all this portends, governments and their trade leaders need to reduce friction in the global economy, lower market barriers, and ensure that data — the currency of the information age — can flow freely across borders. I won’t claim it will be as easy as it sounds. The Uruguay Round took about six years, after all. And as BSA has documented, there is a countervailing wave of trade protectionism sweeping through many of the world’s fastest-growing IT markets. Yet there is also a growing recognition, born of an economic imperative, that governments around the world need to work together to open markets, spur innovation and drive growth. The scale of the opportunity at hand provides ample incentive to forge agreements that will allow us to secure the vast public benefits sure to flow from the next waves of software innovation and growth.

Robert Holleyman

Author:

As President and CEO of BSA | The Software Alliance from 1990 until April 2013, Robert Holleyman long served as the chief advocate for the global software industry. Before leaving BSA to start his own venture, Cloud4Growth, Holleyman led the most successful anti-piracy program in the history of any industry, driving down software piracy rates in markets around the world.

Named one of the 50 most influential people in the intellectual property world, he was instrumental in putting into place the global policy framework that today protects software under copyright law. A widely respected champion for open markets, Holleyman also was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, the principal advisory committee for the US government on trade matters.

Holleyman was a leader in industry efforts to establish the legal framework necessary for cloud-computing technologies to flourish. He was an early proponent for policies that promote deployment of security technologies to build public trust and confidence in cyberspace. And he created a highly regarded series of forums for industry executives and policymakers to exchange points of view and forge agreements on the best ways to spur technology advances and promote economic growth.

Before heading BSA, Holleyman was a counselor and legislative adviser in the United States Senate, an attorney in private practice, and a judicial clerk in US District Court. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, a J.D. from Louisiana State University, and has completed the Stanford Executive Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

3 thoughts on “Securing the Benefits of Software Innovation and Growth”

  1. I love the open source movement as it opens door to innovation and access to talents you haven’t even heard of. Still, we live in a world of software patents and lawsuits. Wouldn’t it be so much better if billions of dollars spent on fighting lawsuits could be used into product research and development instead? Maybe, one day soon.

    1. BSA agrees with much of the sentiment you express. We support policies to curb abusive litigation while preserving incentives to invest in R&D and drive new innovation. Patents for true software inventions provide one of those incentives. We live in a mixed-source world where consumers and businesses benefit from software tools that developers make available to the market in variety of business models — from open source to paid licenses to fee-for-service. We should continue fostering that variety so the market can evolve as technology advances.

  2. Such regulations can definitely hold creativity and innovative solutions back. We have come to rely on the technology that surrounds us. Opening more doors allows for the technology of our future.

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