Microsoft's Ballmer says digital tech will boost economy
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Microsoft Corp. chief executive Steve Ballmer believes the digital technology industry will lead America's economic rebirth, but that the process is likely to take awhile.
"What we see today feels like a new normal," Ballmer during an address at the Boston College Chief Executives Club at the InterContinental Boston Hotel today. Information technology spending by businesses has declined by "15, 20, maybe 25 percent" during the recession, Ballmer said, and "the consumer electronics market in the home has shrunk consistently in the last 18 months."
Ballmer said that the consumer market has apparently now stabilized. But he added that it won't bounce back quickly, because so much of its growth earlier in the decade was predicated on massive expansions in consumer debt. "We were, in a sense...borrowing from the future," said Ballmer. Businesses and individuals are now retrenching, and so the next wave of economic growth must come form "more productivity and more innovation in order to drive more job growth," he said.
The good news, said Ballmer, is that the information technology sector is poised to unleash a new wave of innovative products and services. "I look out for the next five to 10 years and, frankly, I see more opportunity for more IT innovation, to have a more profound impact on society, even than the last five or 10 years."
Ballmer predicted that the next decade would see the development of better interactive entertainment services, improvements in digital technologies for storing and accessing medical records, and new ways to deliver educational services. Ballmer said that Microsoft is pouring billions into research and development to ensure the company will be a leader in these new technologies. "We invest more in R&D than any other company in the world, because we believe in the power of these innovations," he said.
Microsoft has about 1,000 employees in Massachusetts, with about 700 of them engaged in research.