It is not just a number but an unprecedented opportunity. A study by Harvard Business Review Analytics Services, sponsored by NTT DATA, found that 90% of Latin American companies are willing to reinforce their investments in emerging technologies in the coming twelve months.
If this were combined with a change in the cultural mindset so that organizations in the region put these innovations and the knowledge of their businesses at the service of developing countries and improving the quality of life of citizens, we would be talking about a new era for Latin America. Well, the report leaves us another clue to be optimistic: 86% believe it is essential to develop a corporate culture based on innovation.
Resources abound in our countries: we have some of the world's largest reserves of lithium, copper, and oil, with the largest water reservoirs on the planet, the climatic conditions to bet on renewable energy, a gigantic capacity to produce food - and the war scenario in Ukraine shows us that both the global energy matrix and the world's food ecosystem are about to change - and, fundamentally, with extraordinary talent (although still scarce). On top of that, the digital infrastructure of Latin America is becoming increasingly robust, solid, and reliable.
However, many challenges lie ahead in terms of economic stability, competitiveness, growth, and social inequality.
Emerging technologies play a key role here: they allow us to capitalize on resources, manage risks, and create opportunities. The times when a computer tool was implemented with the sole objective of lowering costs today seem prehistoric to us: the main concern of executives in the region, as this report shows, is to attack one of the problems that have most affected the development of companies in the region: half of those surveyed stated that they seek to increase productivity with emerging technologies.
But they are also the key to accessing global markets, gaining efficiencies through automation, generating unique experiences for customers and collaborators, or underpinning sustainability strategies. For example, advanced robotics minimize manual tasks, duplicate activities, or human error to the extreme. Artificial intelligence, for its part, allows us to understand and predict scenarios in a rapidly changing world. Just two examples that could be multiplied with the use cases proposed by edge computing, blockchain, the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented realities, or the metaverse.
Room for Optimism
A series of obstacles persist, some of them paradoxical. For example, the shortage of human capital in certain skills is more pressing, curiously due to the high quality of regional talent, which is increasingly in demand – combined with remote work – by international companies. Others are historical: a lack of financial resources or the difficulty of integrating new technologies into the existing IT landscape. 88% understand that these barriers can be circumvented with the right technology partner, one that not only has proven experience in deploying innovative tools but is also aligned with the values and purposes of the organization.
The results obtained so far allow us a positive view of the future: 90% said that emerging technologies will contribute to the success of their organizations in the future, 87% said that they have taken advantage of them in the last two years, and 88% considered that the benefits obtained justify the amount of the investment. Visible improvements reached brand reputation, greater customer retention, or increased profitability. The potential benefits go much further.
For this reason, my last reflection cannot avoid redundancy: emerging technologies are the key to empowering Latin America as an emerging economy.