Technology policies have taken a backseat in the 2016 election. But as Americans prepare to go to the polls on Tuesday and elect either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump as president of the United States, tech leaders are considering how each candidate might change the face of innovation.
As TechRepublic senior writer Dan Patterson noted, "The next president of the United States will make major technology-related decisions that impact every sector of the economy, from healthcare to finance to consumer and corporate encryption and privacy."
We polled TechRepublic's CIO Jury panel of technology experts to gauge how a potential Clinton or Trump presidency could affect the industry. When asked "Will the results of the US presidential election impact the future of tech?" seven tech leaders answered yes, while five answered no.
The next president will "absolutely" impact the tech industry, said David Baker, CTO of Fringe Benefit Group. "One would expect varying degrees of government versus private sector investment strategies, as well as focus on national security and cyber defense initiatives," he said.
The issues of privacy and security will definitely be affected, said Juan Ruiz, director of information technology at Tuff Shed. With Clinton's email server mismanagement, and Trump daring foreign nations to hack the US, "neither of these candidates are qualified to sway policy as it relates to security and privacy concerns," Ruiz said. "They have both demonstrated a lack of respect for both of these issues."
However, technology innovation will move forward, no matter who is in the White House, Ruiz said. "Innovation starts with people from all countries, and does not flow from the presidential office," he added. But visas are needed to keep the US moving forward—with the shortage of tech workers, the need for foreign skilled workers will increase, he said.
"Trump and Hillary both understand this concept, no matter what they say about their immigration policies during debates and in front of cheering crowds," Ruiz said. "There are platitudes, and then there is reality."
The two candidates have taken very different positions on technology and innovation, said Florentin Albu, CIO of Ofgem E-Serve. "Based on the information in the public domain, it appears that Clinton intends to increase the technology skills available in the country and is open to measures such as high-skill immigration," Albu said. "This should have fairly immediate effects in terms of giving US companies continuous access to qualified tech workforce."
Clinton's focus on cybersecurity means that security companies will be encouraged to innovate and compete, especially in the area of encryption algorithms, Albu said. And her support for net-neutrality should ensure there is no corporate-tiered internet.
Meanwhile, "Trump appears to have a different stance on net-neutrality, with potential negative implications in terms of wider accessibility to the net," Albu said. "A strong focus on homeland security could result in weaker encryption for US IT exports. The unclear position on highly-skilled immigration might result in a shortage of specialist workforce."
David Wilson, director of IT services at VectorCSP, said tech will be impacted, but only tangentially. "Tech will be researched, improved and designed in the same way," Wilson said. "How the government uses it could shift."
Forrester projects 5.1% growth for business and government spending on tech goods, services, and staff in 2017, according to its recently published 2017 US Tech Budgets outlook report—an improvement from the 4.4% growth forecasted for 2016.
However, this forecast "assumes a continuation of the economic policies now in place under the Obama administration and the Republican Congress, and thus a Hillary Clinton election along with Republican control of at least the House of Representatives," Forrester's Andrew Bartel noted on ZDNet. If Trump wins the election, or the Democrats take control of both the House and the Senate, the forecast would change significantly, Bartel said.
Last week, TechRepublic and Unanimous A.I. teamed up to host a "swarm AI"—which has often proved more accurate than polls and experts—predicted that Clinton will win the election "by a little." When asked "Who will be more innovative in using technology in government?", "Who will be stronger about national cybersecurity?", and "Who will work better with Silicon Valley and tech companies?", the swarm answered "Clinton, by a lot," each time.
You can read about where each candidate stands on the issues of cybersecurity, privacy and encryption, ICANN, STEM, H-1B visas, innovation, and taxes here.
This month's CIO Jury was:
- David Wilson, director of IT services, VectorCSP
- Simon Johns, IT director, Sheppard Robson Architects LLP
- Mike S. Ferris, global IT director of infrastructure, Lincoln Electric
- Florentin Albu, CIO, Ofgem E-Serve
- Shane Milam, executive director of technology infrastructure services, Mercer University
- Cory Wilburn, CIO, Texas General Land Office
- Juan Ruiz, director of information technology, Tuff Shed
- David Baker, CTO, Fringe Benefit Group
- Michael Hanken, vice president of IT, Multiquip Inc.
- Michael R. Belote, CTO, Mercer University
- Jeff Kopp, technology coordinator, Christ the King Catholic School
- Corey Peissig, vice president of technical operations, Optimal Blue
Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the top issues for IT decision makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director, or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, click the Contact link below or email alison dot denisco at cbsinteractive dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.
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Alison DeNisco is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO and the convergence of tech and the workplace.