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This year marks the 127th anniversary of Thomas Edison's modern light bulb -- the familiar incandescent filament in a glass bulb. Introduction of the modern light bulb on Oct. 21, 1879 was a milestone event, a product of Edison's laboratory in Menlo Park, N.J. Considered to be the world's first research and development lab, Edison’s Menlo Park compound was nothing more than a couple of two-story wooden buildings surrounded by white picket fence. Yet, within those humble confines, Edison and his team invented many practical innovations we're still using today.

Collaboration and focus on innovation -- hallmarks of Edison’s team -- are needed today in the information technology (IT) business. For IT companies, collaboration has increasingly become a critical piece of the innovation puzzle. A united, dedicated effort from key players can fuel the development of open standards and technologies, readily available to all, which combines to make a veritable innovation ecosystem.

In any collaboration, success relies on participation. A flexible, powerful IT environment based upon open standards and interoperability is the foundation of an on demand business and fundamental to customers' ability to transform into dynamic, responsive organizations.

More than that, however, an open environment spurs valuable collaboration within the ecosystem and provides a springboard for cutting-edge technologies. The guiding principle: by enriching the ecosystem and fostering it as a place for ideas to be exchanged, inventions can be tested, relationships can be created, and everyone benefits.

In support of this vision, the entire IT business ecosystem needs to understand and contribute. For example, if academia is the training ground of tomorrow's workforce, students need to have the access to information. Governments need to take steps to foster, not hinder, innovation. Because developers have the power of choice, they need to select open, integrated platforms instead of proprietary solutions.

IT leaders play a significant role by connecting the various players with one another, fostering new kinds of symbiotic relationships. IT leaders should also encourage the growth and innovation of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), recognizing that this segment of the marketplace is ripe with opportunity.


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