“Where Georgia Leads” is TAG’s “campaign to raise the profile for the Georgia technology community … by telling the stories of our strong industries, incredible innovation and amazing entrepreneurs and employees. The goal of the campaign is to make Georgia top of mind as a state for technology, supporting growth of existing companies and attracting new ones.” Where Georgia Leads highlights five sectors (with national rankings, by employment): Logistics (5th), Health Information Technology (1st), IT Communications (5th), Information Security (3rd) and Financial Technology (3rd). At the upcoming Georgia Technology Summit, the State of the Industry Report will highlight these sectors, and many of the Top 40 companies are in these sectors.
There is no doubt that these strong industries support the campaign. But are there other sectors in which Georgia leads, or at least makes a good showing as a follower?
I spoke to Tino Mantella, President of TAG, about other promising sectors. Tino said, “We are always looking for other clusters of excellence in Georgia. Recently we added “Mission Critical Data Centers” to the list.”
I asked Tino whether TAG has considered e-commerce, or the broader “Internet.” He responded: “TAG is analyzing data for Interactive Media, which appears to be a strong cluster and certainly relates to the Internet. TAG hasn’t attempted to analyze the State’s e-commerce companies.”
TAG is not alone in directing its focus elsewhere, and there are various explanations. In some circles there appears to be a feeling that e-commerce is not a truly innovative sector, although proponents of Amazon might disagree. It may be that it is difficult to categorize e-commerce companies. Take the example of HM Wallace, an Atlanta-based online supplier of the decidedly “unsexy” plumbing fixtures. Is HM Wallace merely a supplier to the construction industry, or should it be considered a technology company by virtue of its dependence of its own e-commerce platform and a host of proprietary technologies? Also, how should we measure the economic impact of an e-commerce company? In employment, for example, are all employees relevant (they wouldn’t have a job in fulfillment, if not for the e-commerce platform and sophisticated Search Engine Optimization) or only the employees directly involved in “Technology,” such as the website and content management?
TAG’s move to recognize Mission Critical Data Centers and Interactive Media is a good start at expanding the clusters of excellence. I believe that further analysis will show that e-commerce contributes significantly to the State’s tech community, and companies like HM Wallace deserve recognition.
So what do you think? Does this sector have enough of a critical mass to merit consideration to be a cluster “Where Georgia Leads?” Does the Internet/e-commerce sector, or other sectors of the technology industry in the State, have the potential to generate economic growth and create jobs? Let us know!