An Internet-powered revolution in commerce and life may falter if industries and governments don't work together to seize opportunities for change, Hewlett-Packard president and chief executive officer Carly Fiorina warned in a speech Monday to the World Congress on Information Technology here in Taipei, Taiwan.
Industry and government must liberalise trade, hold on to consumers' trust and improve education in order to make the Internet revolution work, Fiorina said.
At the same time, she painted a picture of an improved world enriched by Internet-based "e-services," information appliances and a ubiquitous, reliable Internet infrastructure.
Fiorina also outlined a pair of devices HP will launch this year to link mobile users to that infrastructure. The company this summer will introduce a handheld "learning appliance," in the form factor of a calculator but Web-enabled, for students to use in the classroom. By the end of the year, HP also will introduce a connected device in the form of a watch, being developed along with Swatch. The watch is currently being tested in Switzerland for automatic payment of fares on trains, Fiorina said.
"Technology now has the power to transform everyone and everything," Fiorina said. The key to that transformation is for corporations and governments to both invent new approaches to challenges and reinvent what they do, she said.
"We can fail to achieve the promise of this revolution if we fail to remember that this revolution is about people," Fiorina said. The current divide between the "haves" and have-nots" in the information economy has to be bridged, or the revolution will be held back, she said.
Challenges in trade, education and e-commerce security and legal matters will require new kinds of cooperation between industry and government, Fiorina said.
She applauded the expected admission of China and Taiwan into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) later this year, as well as the recent approval of Permanent Normal Trade Relations between the US and China by the US House of Representatives.
HP was a major force in lobbying for the House vote, Fiorina pointed out.
Building consumer trust in e-commerce will require joint efforts across borders to protect user privacy, defend against cyber terrorism and to resolve commercial disputes, she said.
"With each cyber attack, trust and confidence in the online world is shaken," Fiorina said. Cross-border cooperation is necessary to face the threat, she said.
Moreover, individual countries' court systems will not be effective for consumers and companies to gain redress when e-commerce deals go bad, she added. HP is participating in development of an international third-party mediation system, Fiorina said.