Our anemic economy needs meaningful job creation.  In the ‘90s Information Technology (IT) related innovations created many jobs and boosted productivity by 1-2%, enough to allow for good income growth.   In the 3rd quarter of 2011 income grew just 0.1%.   Within the next 5-10 years there are innovations whose total scale offers hope.  Some build-out money will go offshore to low-cost fabricators, it’s the nature of these innovations that most of the development and operation money will stay in the US, creating good jobs.

Fourth generation cellular wireless (4G) has appeared in a few US locations and from a few carriers, but 4G is about to take off in a big way.  According to Deloitte, U.S. investment in 4G could fall in the range of $25-$53 billion during 2012-2016.  The investments could grow GDP by $73-151 billion and launch 371,000-771,000 new jobs.   The investment is justified by its value to consumers.  4G will deliver better security, lower latency and higher throughput – enough for mobile consumers to use a small handset and rely on cloud computing for any massive storage and fast computing, instead of carrying bulky gear.   4G and cloud computing will offer compelling value in education, telemedicine, shopping, entertainment and recreation.

Big Data (dreadfully named!) is a cluster of technologies that are a quantum leap in data capture, storage and analysis.  Big Data will enhance productivity and competitiveness for public and private organizations.  Some Big Data payoffs include spotting business trends, preventing diseases, combatting crime and massive cost cutting and performance improvements within private and public sector bureaucracies.  McKinsey monetized a few Big Data applications, for example; annual US health care savings of $300 billion, annual European public sector savings of $223- $446 billion, manufacturing product development time reductions of 20-50%, and retail margin hikes of up to 60%.   As big Data reaches full deployment in the next 10 years, the US will need to add 1.5 million IT-savvy managers, and up to 190,000 “deeply analytical” specialists (e.g. experts in statistical analysis and machine learning). Big Data will require several public policy issues to be addressed, including the tradeoff between privacy and utility.

Big Data and 4G are innovations that can create up to 2.4 million jobs without need for government subsidy, but they will require government care and restraint in regulations.

Alan Daley is a retired businessman living in Florida.  He follows public policy from the consumer’s perspective.