CLOUD NINE

Dominican Republic 2013 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jorge Cabeza, General Manager, Dominican Republic, at Microsoft, on the IT infrastructure in the country, the launch of new products, and solutions to combat piracy.

How is the Dominican Republic placed within the region in terms of the competitiveness and maturity of the technological field?

I believe there is a lot of potential in the Dominican Republic in terms of the evolution of ICT. One way to develop it is with enterprise companies. These companies evolved in 2011 in terms of usage of ICT as a mechanism for business development. These companies are using ICT to provide more services to their customers. Take the banking, insurance, and mining sectors, for example; they have many uses for ICT and are pushing hard to provide more services. This type of usage would be the average across the region; however, there are still many opportunities for ICT to develop across SMEs that could be used to increase services and make them more agile.

How big an influence has piracy had on the take up of the Windows operating system in the Dominican Republic when compared to the other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America?

The usage of Microsoft Plus! is one of the highest in the region. Although Microsoft products have a high penetration rate, piracy remains a problem. This country has one of the highest rates of pirated software use in the region, close to 74%. The problem is SMEs, because these types of companies make up the majority. We need to educate SME owners that ICT is an investment that will make their businesses more agile and prosperous. However, the government is willing to work with us and we are making progress. It is important to understand that piracy affects everyone, not only Microsoft. Piracy affects the technology industry as well as the music and film and arts industry. In the end, piracy has a negative effect on the economy as well as the knowledge economy of a country, thus hindering innovation.

“We are working with many organizations in the country to show SME organizations that ICT is an investment and not an expense."

How are you educating small- and medium-sized organizations, and what has been the response?

We are working with many organizations in the country to show SME organizations that ICT is an investment and not an expense. The response has been modest so far; however, I think this government is looking to focus on formalizing these organizations. I believe this kind of movement in conjunction with the industry will support development. The best way to create prosperity is to improve business for SMEs, and this is a goal that we share with the government. A huge focus we have as a company now is the cloud and how it can specifically help SMEs prosper. We have the most complete cloud solutions for SMEs to “feel and act big," while enjoying the same benefits and flexibility with ICT as the larger companies.

The products of the year are Microsoft Office 365 and Cloud Services. What are the expectations in the Dominican Republic for these new applications?

This is one of the most intense years for Microsoft that I have seen. I have been in this industry for more than 19 years, 15 of them with Microsoft. I have never seen such intensity in product development. The number of new products we are delivering to the market is amazing. We have already launched Office 365, and Windows 8 was launched globally on October 26, 2012. Recently, we launched the new Windows Phone through the largest operator. We will also launch additional cloud services soon. A huge amount of innovation is happening in the Dominican Republic. If you think of the savings in terms of energy and availability that cloud solutions bring, it is just amazing for this country. The government is even running its infrastructure using our Cloud services. In 2011, Microsoft grew by 24% in the Dominican Republic and the country's economy grew 4%. That Microsoft is growing by 24% shows the acceleration the country is experiencing in ICT. We are one of the fastest-growing companies in the Caribbean.

© The Business Year - May 2013