Tech icons talk innovation


Photo: Guadajalara, Mexico, is the closest thing to Latin America's own Silicon Valley, says IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. Public Domain (CC0)

22nd January 2018

IBM, SAP, Microsoft propose tools to foster innovation in Latin America. Aeromexico and IHG offer their views.
Innovation seems to be an elusive practice for Latin American firms. Columbia University professor, Raúl Katz, notes that the region massively adopted digital tools in the last decade. He measures the size of this avalanche, by access to the internet, to broadband, and by mobile and computer penetration, among other metrics. However, this adoption has not resulted in increased productivity, or faster economic growth.
To the dismay of some economists, the benefits of digitization did not percolate to growth rates. Productivity did not increase, for example, despite the fact that household internet penetration in Latin America more than doubled from 2010 to 2017.
What seems to be missing?
Latin Trade brought the heads of a group of iconic companies to speak about ways to spur innovation in large Latin American firms. IBM, SAP, Microsoft, are all about innovation, and InterContinental Hotels and Aeroméxico are successful companies that operate in industries subject to new competitive pressures.
According to most interviewees, part of the answer lies in managers. Innovation, the key to increased productivity and long-run growth, implies the development of new products, processes or business models, that add value to a company, to consumers, or to society. It’s almost never a matter of coming out with good ideas, but of initiating corporate actions and obtaining …

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