By: Jeanette M. Shaw
Today, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published The Future of Jobs, a report describing today’s technological and sociological employment drivers.
The report summarizes, “According to many industry observers, we are today on the cusp of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. Developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and genetics and biotechnology are all building on and amplifying one another. Smart systems—homes, factories, farms, grids or entire cities—will help tackle problems ranging from supply chain management to climate change.”
Employment trends are leveraging technology to drive the growth of mobile internet, cloud, more efficient computing power and Big Data. These technologies are providing more flexibility, on-demand work and remote work. Outdated federal and state employment laws are impeding these trends due to the political and legal disputes surrounding independent contractors (Techolicy’s white paper, Modernizing Employment Policies to Unleash the New Economy, digs into why).
Recognizing the need for fourth industrial revolution workers, many states, including Oregon, have coordinated state efforts to boost science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) careers as well as career technical education (CTE). Additionally, in a model of collaboration, STEM hubs from communities across the United States have launched a national STEM Ecosystems Initiative offering young people in the United States access to STEM learning environments to prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“We look forward to continuing our work with communities nationwide,” said Gerald Solomon, co-chair of the STEM Funders Network and executive director of the Samueli Foundation. “We know that these grassroots, local partnerships can provide a sustainable way to ensure STEM learning is truly ‘everywhere’ for all learners as they build the skills and knowledge to thrive in a global workforce.”
Given today’s pace and scale of disruption, the U.S. needs to ensure a modern workforce is available to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. By bringing together White House officials, schools, out-of-school programs, business and community leaders and STEM-rich institutions such as museums, the STEM Ecosystems Initiative will provide a sustainable way to ensure STEM learning is truly everywhere.
In addition to promoting an educated workforce, policymakers also must empower the growth of digital marketplaces and mobile platforms that more efficiently connect workers with work. While the workforce of the past was organized around companies, it appears the workforce of the future is shaping up to be organized around workers. Let’s not stifle American ingenuity with outdated laws and regulations.
By: Jeanette M. Shaw
Some might start humming and attribute this blog title to American Rapper Nelly’s 2002 song with a similar name, others might attribute it to today’s breaking news highlighting 2015 as the hottest year on record, and yet others might attribute it to the contentious 2016 presidential race and current economic angst.
Whatever your frame of reference, the good news is that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), technology companies and car manufacturers are looking to reduce the heat on the path toward autonomous vehicles. “We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transform mobility for the American people,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.
The DOT announced late last week, that President Obama’s FY 17 budget proposal includes nearly $4 billion for safe vehicle automation through real world pilot programs. In addition, DOT is removing potential roadblocks to the integration of innovative, transformational automotive technology that can significantly improve safety, mobility and sustainability.
“Today’s actions and those we will pursue in the coming months will provide the foundation and the path forward for manufacturers, state officials, and consumers to use new technologies and achieve their full safety potential, “ continued Secretary Foxx.
Let’s work together to ensure state legislators and regulators do not stifle new technology and innovative approaches. Ensuring a common, multistate framework for connected and autonomous vehicles will reduce the heat as well as the number of crashes and fatalities on U.S. roadways today.
By: Jeanette M. Shaw
General observations – Welcome to 2016. The good news is that entrepreneurship remains alive and well in America. The not so good news is that it’s “up periscope” for policymakers, regulators and lawyers looking for ways to encumber tech innovation, protect incumbents and profit from tech-unfriendly public policies. At the state and local levels (our primary though not exclusive domain of interest), we predict 2015 trends will become more pronounced as we move through 2016.
It will become even more important for tech companies in regulated or would-be regulated spaces to actively address public policy barriers as part of their overall business strategy. And investors in new technology companies will need to diligently consider public policy, regulatory and legal issues as they participate in financings and M&A transactions. Entrepreneurs and investors who ignore public policy landmines do so at their peril!
We see some key themes, most not so new. Governments and regulators will continue acting as gatekeepers seeking to preserve the status quo for incumbents or impose irrational operating rules on new entrants – sometimes for ostensibly legitimate reasons and sometimes for political reasons (we know; this is shocking). Data privacy and security issues will impact companies of every size. The notion of public safety will be used by some policymakers to regulate in ways that have little to do with public safety. Presidential candidates will continue to weigh in – sometimes insightfully, sometimes not. And lawyers and consultants will look for more opportunities to benefit from counterproductive public policies that government created. Fun stuff, yes?
Here are some of the issues we expect to see in Congress, statehouses, city halls, agency offices, courthouses and the media in 2016:
Employment classification – Whether and how new (and old) economy companies can utilize independent contractors was one of the biggest issues of 2015. In 2016, it will take on even more prominence as the W-2/1099 issue impacts more companies in more sectors than any other. Some members of Congress will continue reform conversations begun in 2015. Missing in most of the commentary will be the fact that outdated federal and state employment laws are the root cause of both the political and legal disputes surrounding independent contracting (our white paper, Modernizing Employment Policies to Unleash the New Economy, digs into why). The feds and many states and localities will engage on this issue throughout the year and it will continue to be messy.
Transportation – An interesting variety of transportation-related companies will contend with a wide range of policy issues in 2016. Ridesharing and car sharing companies will continue the fight to enter new markets (and stay in existing ones) and to keep restrictive operating regulations at bay. For ridesharing (and taxi) companies, the new battle over driver unionization, begun in Seattle at the end of 2015, will be waged in other states and localities as the year unfolds (our recent article in TechCrunch explains why Seattle’s unionization effort is bad public policy). In a category that emerged more quickly than most people imagined, states will grapple with how to regulate driverless cars in ways that allow innovation but protect public safety. And from the world of the arcane, some innovative car companies will work to overturn decades-old state restrictions on the right to sell automobiles directly to consumers.
Short-term lodging rentals – Companies in the short-term rental space will continue shaping state and local laws and regulations that define whether and how they can operate. Land-use, safety, tax collection and remittance, and information privacy are some of the issues in play here. And from the “who saw that one coming” department, companies in this category will also be drawn into “affordable housing” debates.
Drones – While drone regulation is primarily being piloted by the FAA, states and perhaps localities have privacy and public safety issues on their radar (peeping drones, oh my!). As the FAA authorizes more drone activity in 2016, we expect to see active engagement on these and other high-flying topics at the state and local level.
Fantasy sports – We’ll bet most people didn’t see fantasy sports as a hotbed of state public policy activity in early 2015. The big funding and rapid growth of daily fantasy sports companies changed all that. Using existing laws and regulations defining “gambling,” some states are seeking to shut this industry down. How federal law exempting fantasy sports from the prohibition on internet gambling applies will be a key question. That said, these are bigtime, well-funded and staffed battles, and 2016 will see further escalation.
There’s so much more. Fin Tech, Ed Tech, Health Tech, Clean Tech, [Fill-in-the-blank] Tech. And the tech we don’t yet see, coupled with the policy battles we can’t yet predict. For those of us in the tech policy arena, 2016 will be anything but boring.
By: Jeanette M. Shaw
What do “old economy” and “new economy” companies increasingly have in common? Government scrutiny as well as legislative and regulatory challenges. What do these companies often NOT have in common? Awareness or acknowledgement of potential regulatory consequences that can stifle invention, prevent or slow market entry and impede investment and growth. When a new economy company innovates and disrupts incumbent industries, it in turn disrupts legal, legislative and regulatory regimes.
Companies can sit on the sidelines and let government officials guess how public policy will affect their businesses and customers. Or they can be proactive and work with policy makers and regulators to ensure that laws and regulations best serve business and customer interests.
It is no longer viable for new economy C-suites to ignore regulatory issues or hope they will "just go away.” They won’t despite the fact technology solutions may be bettering the world, increasing efficiency, and/or enabling a “shared” economy. C-suite executives must understand the legislative and regulatory environment in which they operate and how it will affect their businesses and operational investments.
As my colleague Nate Garvis, Target’s former vice president for government affairs, once said, “When legislatures and regulatory bodies are making policy decisions, if you are aren’t at the table, then you are probably on the menu.”
Effective public policy efforts must begin inside the company, where local, state and federal legislative and regulatory policies are researched and understood, strategies set and tactics devised.
Government relations literature is filled with examples of companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Wal-Mart, thinking they could ignore local, state and federal public policy early in their development.
Wal-Mart once believed it didn’t need a significant legislative or regulatory presence. Then it began facing negative state campaigns. This drove more active engagement at the state level and later a bigger federal presence. Both Google and Microsoft (and many throughout Silicon Valley) recognized late in the game how policy makers and regulators have the power to cause significant business damage.
As Michael Watkins, Mickey Edwards and Usha Thakrar note in their book, Winning the Influence Game: “The bottom line is that in spheres ranging from privacy issues to labor laws to industry deregulation, government can affect any company’s well-being. Working with government will not always achieve the desired results, but it is better to anticipate and work to shape the impact of government actions than to struggle to respond to them after the fact.”
Don’t be on the menu; Be Proactive