The European knowledge society is entering a new phase of development where ICT is providing the key basic infrastructures for all vital social and economic processes and is the most influential key technology in most innovations across all industries. All private and public services are being provided through and shaped by these infrastructures. ICT is becoming indispensable to address key social challenges and continues to play a defining role in our economy, providing a critical infrastructure for the global economy. The ICT infrastructure thus becomes an issue of the highest social concern. Therefore, in this new phase social innovation will be a key driver for ICT development.
Social innovation refers to new strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet social needs of all kinds. Technological innovation can inspire social innovation, for example ehealth, distance learning and the use of texting on mobile phones, but technological innovation is also driven by our desire to build systems to meet social needs, for example the Google search engine was developed to enable people to find things on the Web. The two processes are becoming increasingly inter-connected.
The shift towards social innovation also implies that the dynamics of ICT-innovation has changed. Innovation has shifted downstream and is becoming increasingly distributed; new stakeholder groups are joining the party, and combinatorial innovation is becoming an important source for rapid growth and commercial success. Continuous learning, exploration, co-creation, experimentation, collaborative demand articulation, and user contexts are becoming critical sources of knowledge for all actors in R&D & Innovation.
The rapid deployment of the Internet as a global infrastructure available practically anywhere anytime has led to a new dimension of integration across time and distance. Never before in history could global distributed systems be connected like today. Thus, a new era for systems and service integration, where ICT will be functioning as a ‘’systems-of-systems’, is about to take off in the next decade.
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