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Costa Rica 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Rubén Rivera M., General Manager of GBM, on how the IT sector is performing and ways to close the digital gap.

Rubén Rivera M.
BIOGRAPHY
Rubén Rivera M. has a master of business administration in the ITCR. He has worked for GBM since 1994 and lead GBM Costa Rica since 2012. He also worked as a volunteer for Drummonds, helping people with brain issues.

How do you assess the IT sector currently here in Costa Rica?

I have worked in this industry for 27 years and I see three main challenges here. First, the public sector plays an important role in our industry in terms of size and IT needs. The IT budget in Costa Rica's public sector is significantly larger than in other countries in Central America. This is an important revenue in our yearly numbers. The second challenge we face is that Costa Rica has been known, in the last years, to have highly qualified IT professionals. Nevertheless, we often face the challenge of finding these professionals with the kind of IT skills we require due to their high demand. The IT sector has been growing immensely in Costa Rica, especially in the software industry. Multinational companies have formed alliances with local universities in order to meet the demand in the desired technical skills needed. Here, there are nearly the same type of needs and challenges a company in the US or Europe has. The main issue is that most part of the market is four or five years behind in terms of the implementation compared to US companies, especially in the banking industry, which is paramount worldwide. The other challenge in Costa Rica is that the industry is interested in the ideas and implementation of IT services in other countries such as the US; however, we lack the penetration and confidence of managed services in the industry.

GBM works to closing the digital gap in Costa Rica. What are the main highlights of your programs here?

We have two large initiatives, which are core for the entire business in Costa Rica. One of them is to help close the digital gap and the other is electronic waste management. Electronic waste has been growing considerably in Costa Rica. We have made strategic alliances with institutions that recycle IT waste, helping our customers and non-customers, to get rid of obsolete equipment in an ecologically responsible way. We also seek to minimize the digital gap. We deploy various initiatives in this area, such as teaching people with disabilities basic computer skills amongst other. While we have volunteers who come in and give lessons, we also decided to establish a formal program in which we have invested important resources, named One Goal for Education. The initiative consists of bridging the digital gap amongst low resource schools and other centers, such as homes for the elderly, with the help of local soccer teams that aim to score as many goals as possible. Each goal represents the amount of centers and schools who will benefit from receiving a learning kit (13 previously owned iPads, a Wi-Fi device and pedagogical training). We work with top high schools that give us a hand with content included in the iPads and also give English lessons and basic computer skills courses to go with the equipment we donate. We expected to donate 1,700 iPads, but have given away nearly 3,000 pieces of equipment, which also includes laptops and desktop computers.

What are the company's goals for 2017?

Our main goal is to grow. We have grown double digit in each of the last five years. We will continue to grow in managed services, an important area for us. We will also grow our data center infrastructure strategy with our customers and outsourcers. Business analytics is an opportunity and an area that customers begin to require. Since we adhere to SAP implementation practices, we will continue to implement more solutions using SAP and the ecosystem around it. We are the number-one IT solutions integrator in the region and this has been confirmed by IDC, the service consulting firm for marketing solutions around the world involving all the major players in the industry.