The Greeks, 2,500 years ago, were onto something. Creating a concept such as synergy might have been one of their greatest inventions. Although the word has sometimes been overused and abused, synergy surrounds us nowadays. Synergies underlie mergers and takeovers, coalition governments, and civil society movements. More and more often we are starting to see public-private partnerships that promise the benefits of mutual cooperation.
Which is why I was was not surprised but was encouraged when I read about the Global Public Policy Summit (GPPS) organized by the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) that took place in Guadalajara, Mexico, late last year. The event was focused on the necessary actions that have to start taking place all over emerging economies in order to create an inclusive society. WITSA recognizes that competitive IT businesses cannot thrive in societies that are uneducated or uninterested in technology issues and trends. Therefore, the summit called for government officials and agencies, as well as IT businesses and civil organizations, to recognize the necessity for synergy.
Government Must Commit
Amongst the presentations of world-class speakers with ample experience in the IT field, Mexico’s Under Minister of Communications, Hector Olavarria, talked about the challenges the country has found in its way to reaping the benefits of ICT investment. Olavarria expanded on the ICT challenges the country constantly encounters and the policies it promotes to balance them out. Within the policy actions that must be highlighted are the continued government commitment to stimulate investment (in the form of tax incentives, industrial facilities, etc) in IT areas; improve and increase infrastructure; and endorse pro-competitive regulations.
The latter is particularly interesting as it reflects the efforts of much needed synergy. The past year, the CANIETI (National Chamber for Electronic and Technology Industries), Mexico’s largest IT cluster (that represents over 1,200 members including Acer, Canon Mexico, Nextel, and Panasonic), made huge progress in the public policy front as it presented the Digital National Agenda (ADN) before the legislative chambers and the executive power.
A country’s domestic agenda shows a lot more than a country’s priorities, it shows their willingness to work and promote certain areas over others. That is why it was such great news to see the government and private sector working this past year in promoting the newly adopted ADN.
Why did the cluster see the need for a digital agenda? ICT businesses were alarmed by the breach that Mexico showed in international competitive indexes when compared to other emerging economies. A correlation popped: the better competitiveness a country shows, the better ICT capacity, and vice versa.
It was clear that the members of the cluster had to work alongside the government to mediate policy in a way that businesses would be attracted to continue investment in the country. Negotiations started with the presentation of the ADN in April, and continued throughout the year. Political will is required to strengthen the ICT capacity of individuals, companies, and governments, including health, education, and security organizations.
Between 2005 and 2010 the Mexican federal government has had several ICT initiatives. The Ministry of Economy has PROSOFT; e-Mexico is the Ministry of Communications and Transportation’s bet; clinical histories have been digitized and a new project of “digital government” has been launched – but these projects have never been integrated or shared results.
This past year, Mexico started working to reduce the IT breach and enhance its comparative advantages. Mexico recognizes that now more than ever, IT coverage, services, and investment come hand in hand.
The combination of two or more things that creates an effect that is greater than the sum of both separately, that is synergy. A country that acknowledges that a consensus must be reached to homogenize policies and objectives of all actors of society is a country that is working toward a better competitive position and sustainable growth.
William Gourg is the Business Development Manager at InfoTrade Mexico Services, a group of export and foreign investment specialists assisting companies, economic development organizations and universities to increase their global sales & expansions.