Because the information and communications technologies are undergoing such radical and rapid changes, the process of innovation in these industries is itself a moving target, and there appears to be little agreement on what national statistical programs should track. Many participants remarked upon the need for basic knowledge about the nature of innovation in service industries and the difficulty of defining or measuring service-sector outputs and their quality and quantity. Other research priorities mentioned included

  • Assessments of information technology adoption and impacts,
  • Assessments of returns to technology development and adoption, and
  • Better understanding of the structure and nature of industrial innovation systems in the software and related services industries.

It was noted that one of the best existing sources of information on software is the capitalized development expenses reported in quarterly and 10-K filings with the Security and Exchange Commission, which may enable the development of capital stock estimates for software. The requirement to report capitalized software development expenses is not universally observed, however. To obtain more representative data from this source, compliance needs to be encouraged or enforced.

One participant suggested that a special survey of the use and impact of information technology in different industries could provide critical baseline information and that a model approach might be a recent Statistics Canada survey addressing the use of biotechnology across industries, the impact on product mix, employment, and workforce factors. Others suggested that the NSF form an advisory group to develop an agenda for addressing information technology and service-sector data issues.

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