Outlook for 2012, fuelling the European economy

2011 was a year dominated by discussions around the debt crisis, but from a technology point of view Europe saw its fair share of milestones and breakthroughs which can greatly contribute to the economy.  Among others, Vice-President Kroes, endorsed the adoption of cloud computing, a technology solution that gives everyone access to scalable computing power and resources, by promising to make Europe “cloud-active”.

The updated strategy that Vice President Kroes is expected to come back with in 2012, is eagerly anticipated since research estimates that cloud computing in the EU could generate over 400,000 new SMEs, reduce the unemployment rate, increase GDP and contribute up to €736 billion to major EU economies over the next five years (according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research).

I see the use of information communication technology (ICT) by the private sector and by governments during 2012 as a key factor in achieving European economic growth. As the largest consumers of IT services in Europe, government agencies and departments can lead by example, in particular with cloud computing. The public sector can set an example for the private sector in terms of cloud adoption, showcasing cost savings, flexibility, productivity, and new means of communication and collaboration offered. Moreover, by ensuring the suitable framework conditions for the creation of a strong cloud eco-system for start-ups and SMEs in Europe, the public sector helps them gain access to state-of-the-art software and data storage, originally only available for large companies.

At our event on January 30th – Fuelling the European Economy – we will discuss at large the opportunities delivered by ICT and cloud computing in particular, to reenergize productivity, efficiency and competitiveness both for private industry and public sector, stimulating innovation, growth and the European economy.

Similar to the integration of other ICT products into our everyday lives (as for example, the current extensive use of mobile phones), I believe that cloud computing will follow a similar path, provided we address the trust and awareness factors relating to new technologies. The EU Data Protection Directive revision, to be presented in January by Commissioner Reding, will be of great importance as it aims to answer privacy concerns raised by consumers and businesses alike. Citizens want to be in charge of their personal data and we, at Microsoft, certainly support that.

In a recent article of mine published in New Europe, I summed up those technology developments and several others and the impact they will have on Europe.

My wish for 2012 is that the ICT innovations will be recognized and accepted as a critical solution for sustained economic growth in Europe.


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