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Lo que América Latina y el Caribe puede aprender de Silicon Valley

En 1984, Steve Jobs lanzaba el primer Mac al mercado. En ese mismo año se estrenaba la película de culto “La Venganza de los Nerds”. En aquel entonces, la computadora y los nerds iban de la mano. Durante mi adolescencia, la impresión de lo que parecía estar aconteciendo en Silicon Valley: poco “cool”.

En las últimas décadas, el área que se extiende hacia el sur de San Francisco se ha convertido en el polo indiscutido de innovación a nivel mundial. Muchos países han intentado replicar su propio Silicon Valley, pero para la mayoría es aún un objetivo esquivo. Silicon Valley es un ecosistema único, gracias a la aglomeración de las principales compañías tecnológicas, universidades cercanamente ligadas al rubro, laboratorios de innovación y una muy extensa industria de capital privado.

Pero quizás lo que realmente hace único a este valle es su cultura emprendedora. Se toma riesgo, se aprende de los fracasos y se piensa en grande: en crecer 10x y no 10%. En su reciente carta anual a los accionistas de Amazon, Jeff Bezos resalta la importancia de tener una obsesiva orientación al cliente. Comenta cómo el aprendizaje de las máquinas y la inteligencia artificial impacta a casi todas las áreas de su compañía. Y por sobre todo, resalta el enorme riesgo de convertirse en irrelevantes, si quedan atrapados en procesos internos, si no toman decisiones rápidas, y si no se adaptan a las grandes tendencias. En resumen, es un manifiesto a la cultura de Silicon Valley, a una visión exponencial del futuro.

La receta de Silicon Valley: Nuevos modelos de negocios

Este año, para el primer viaje conjunto de los directores del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) y el personal de BID Invest, visitamos Silicon Valley durante tres días. La agenda fue intensa e incluyó a varias de las empresas más emblemáticas del rubro tecnológico, incubadoras, aceleradoras, fondos de capital de riesgo y “think tanks”. Algunas de las tecnologías más mencionadas fueron el Internet de las Cosas, la inteligencia artificial, el Blockchain, la robótica, la impresión 3D, la realidad virtual y la realidad aumentada.

No obstante, más allá de sus inventos, Silicon Valley es famosa por popularizar nuevos modelos de negocio. En muchos casos, dichos modelos han cambiado paradigmas completos, como la “Uberización” de la economía y el “crowdfunding”.

En definitiva, Silicon Valley es la ventana desde la cual se vislumbran los cambios que impactarán a casi todas las áreas de nuestras vidas, desde nuestro trabajo, hogar, ciudades, y transporte, hasta nuestras finanzas, salud, educación y entretenimiento. El costo de procesamiento computacional continúa cayendo, por lo cual deberíamos esperar cambios disruptivos en cada industria expuesta a la tecnología.  Es decir, ¡en casi todas las industrias!

La clave de Silicon Valley para Latinoamérica y el Caribe

Ya de regreso, nos surgen muchas preguntas con respecto a Latinoamérica y el rol que juega su banca de desarrollo: ¿Cuáles son los principales desafíos de desarrollo que surgen de dichos cambios tecnológicos? ¿Cómo nos preparamos para amortiguar el inminente impacto que sufrirán los más vulnerables? ¿Qué tipo de conocimiento debemos generar y cómo lo difundimos? ¿Cómo lograr que las regulaciones y leyes (que por su naturaleza avanzan más lento que la tecnología) favorezcan la innovación, eficiencia e inclusión? ¿Cómo podemos profundizar el apoyo al emprendedor latinoamericano?

En la industria TIC (Tecnologías de la Información y Comunicación) es clave apoyar, desde el lado público y privado, las inversiones en banda ancha de una región que consistentemente ha sub-invertido en infraestructura. La banda ancha móvil es el gran facilitador del ecosistema tecnológico y el gran democratizador del siglo XXI. Las redes deben ser ubicuas y los costos asequibles. Se debe fomentar la competencia y el emprendimiento, así como prevenir la concentración de mercado.

Durante 2017, BID Invest ha contribuido a esta causa con préstamos a Telecom Personal en Argentina y a Tigo en Paraguay. Aun así, la banca de desarrollo debe tomar una actitud más ambiciosa. En un mundo que está acelerando a gran velocidad, la banca debe conducir mirando hacia adelante, no hacia el retrovisor. Las recetas del pasado no funcionan cuando estamos frente a cambios de paradigmas.

La cantidad de datos que circulan en internet se duplican cada año y medio. En la actualidad, se genera más contenido e información por día, que lo que se generaba en siglos enteros durante la era pre-digital. Mediante el teléfono fijo, tardamos 100 años en conectar casi todos los hogares. Con los celulares, conectamos a casi todas las personas en menos de 20 años. Y ahora, Dell, IDC y otros esperan que para 2020 haya entre 30 mil millones y 50 mil millones de objetos conectados a internet, a su vez contribuyendo a retroalimentar el aprendizaje de máquinas y la inteligencia artificial.

Mucho ha cambiado desde aquel estreno de “La Venganza de los Nerds”. En Silicon Valley, los nerds son cool: trabajan de jeans y zapatillas, se desplazan en patinetas y bicicletas de colores, se relajan en “pufs” y les ofrecen comida gratis, 24/7. En muchos casos, sus cuentas bancarias gozan de muchísimos ceros, lo cual no sorprende, ya que las cinco compañías de mayor capitalización bursátil del mundo son Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon y Facebook.  Efectivamente, ¡los nerds se vengaron!

 

*Este blog fue publicado originalmente en Negocios Sostenibles, de BID Invest.


Guillermo Mulville

lidera la cartera de inversión de Telecomunicaciones, Medios y Tecnología (TMT, por sus siglas en inglés) en BID Invest. Se unió a la organización en 2016 y tiene su sede en Washington, D.C. Guillermo ha dirigido equipos especializados de inversión en la industria y ha trabajado en una multitud de transacciones en el sector, en toda América Latina, desde mediados de los 90. Antes de trabajar en BID Invest, pasó más de 9 años en la Corporación Financiera Internacional (IFC, del Grupo del Banco Mundial), donde fue Jefe de TMT para la región de América Latina y el Caribe. Antes de eso, trabajó durante 12 años en ABN AMRO Bank en toda la región, así como para Enron International. También trabajó en las juntas de compañías panafricanas y panamericanas de banda ancha y distribución. Guillermo es licenciado en Administración de Empresas por la Universidad de San Andrés y Master en Finanzas en la Universidad del CEMA, en Argentina.

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