Roberto Carneiro, Vice-President of the European Forum for the Information Society and President of the Evaluation Committee for the European Union's ESPRIT Programme
If it is true that today's so-called Information Society is offering the world the dream of increasing prosperity, well-being and solidarity, it is also true that the responsibility for the construction of this dream within an increasingly globalised and multicultural framework is firmly placed on all active members of society: citizens, communities, associations, public authorities and enterprises. The stakes are immense; the combined efforts of all the players are needed if the prize is to be won.
In the Information Society, knowledge is the driving force for the creation of wealth. Innovation is our only hope if we are to meet the accelerating speed of technological changes and production processes. The value of an enterprise will not necessarily be represented by its official balance sheets but by its willingness to understand and to master new concepts and to follow new directions; industry must be increasingly ready to pay for new ideas rather than for only goods or work.
European competitiveness in the global market depends on the capacity of European enterprises to respond positively to three of the key-questions posed by the emerging Information Society:
- How should the new networks of expertise be managed and how can learning and training environments best be created?
- How should a distributed workforce (flexible, temporary, dislocated, teleworking) be managed and how can the fragmentation derived from the current stage of transition between a largely static working environment to a high level of dynamic nomadism best be avoided?
- How can the ever increasing flood of information and data be handled in a pluralistic context, while meeting the requirements of flexible communication within multicultural markets?
ERCIM can play an important role in all this by constructing effective bridges between the scientific community and economic agents. The consortium should be particularly efficient in addressing the last of the three challenges listed above. European industry requires continuous support if it is to modernise its information management and network communication. This will make it possible to exploit, rapidly and imaginatively, the extraordinary possibilities now being opened up by the new information and communication technologies.