In my field of information and communications technology the greatest innovation has to be the Internet. When I started out in IT in the 1970s the idea of computers communicating with each other was a rather exotic concept and the idea of a pervasive network connecting computers and other devices seemed rather fanciful – almost the stuff of science fiction.
What makes the Internet a key innovation is the effect it is beginning to have on societal structures in business, politics and leisure. Enabled by the World Wide Web and e-mail (strong candidates for great innovations, but fundamentally enabled by the Internet), peer relationships can be established with complete strangers to carry out a business task, discuss the Oscars, rave about a new band or complain about the Government. The next key innovation in society will be the one that leverages this technology-enabled social change to the greatest effect.