You can´t stop progress. It is an integral part of our society and will continue to inform our ways of living and living together. This, moreover, rings true for the motor of progress as well – our curiosity and questioning minds, especially regarding technological advances. Companies have increasingly assumed a key function in processes of change as they take on new responsibilities, and thus become role models for policy and law makers as well as political institutions.
The humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico exposed Washington´s limited ability to act and respond with action plans. Incapacitated by bureaucracy, the politicians seemed unable to circumvent red tape and regulations to provide help as fast as possible. The crisis also brought to the fore a change in our understanding of what “humanitarian help” means, i.e. what is considered a necessity for living in the western world. Nowadays, we need far more than food and drink. People need the internet, power, infrastructure. And they need to be able to access them freely and independently.
Companies not only recognized these needs but they are also willing to provide them. Google sent internet balloons and Tesla provided batteries. This way, they implicitly question the response-ability of the government. In Germany, an initiative by the automobile industry to increase the number and thus accessibility of charging stations is another example. The politicians are too slow, so private businesses lead the way.
This bears consequences for retail as well because its progress and competitiveness is linked to a reliable digital infrastructure, nationwide. And again, this clearly shows who suffers the most from a belated digitalization – small and middle-sized towns. I can´t help but wonder how long it will take the government to respond to those problems or rather: how long private companies will have to bear the burden.