The Best of Times
Irving Wladawsky-Berger
Innovative Technology Opens Doors to Entrepreneurs

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series based on an interview with Irving Wladawsky-Berger, former vice president of IBM, chairman emeritus of the IBM Academy of Technology, and visiting lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wladawsky-Berger, born in Cuba, is widely credited with helping to lead IBM’s successful foray into Internet computing, and continues to provide business technology thought leadership to organizations. See Part 1, The Visionary.

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a thought leader of today’s information economy, gained much of his experience at IBM, one of the world’s largest corporations. However, he is a tireless proponent of entrepreneurship as the path to success. In fact, even with a rough economy, he believes this is probably “the best time in living memory to be an entrepreneur.”

That’s because of two converging forces: the growth of on-demand cloud computing, and the rise of globalization.

Cloud computing lowers startup and operational costs.

“You don’t need as much capital as in the past, because you can get services over the cloud. So the barriers to entry often are quite low,” he notes. Global communications also make it relatively easy to source production capabilities from anywhere in the world.

The one type of person who will have difficulty in the current era is the “passive worker,” or “someone who is waiting for a job to become available,” he adds. The entrepreneur, on the other hand, “has to fight like crazy to come up with the ideas, the work and so forth. A lot of lost jobs are not coming back. We really need workers to think more like entrepreneurs, because that is the future.”

Along with entrepreneurial spirit, today’s business people need technical literacy. “Being technically proficient in today’s economy would almost be like being able to read and write when people were moving from farms to cities 150 years ago,” he explains. “Literacy became a very big deal in that process of industrialization. Today, technical literacy is critical. You’re at a distinct disadvantage if you’re not comfortable using digital technology.”

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