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Dominican Republic 2014 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jorge Cabeza, General Manager of Microsoft, on notable sectoral trends, cloud computing, and the importance of SMEs for the economy and ICT.

Jorge Cabeza
BIOGRAPHY
Jorge Cabeza is a Colombian national, and holds a degree in Systems Engineering from the University of the Andes in Colombia. He had held various positions in companies such as IBM prior to joining a Microsoft subsidiary in Colombia. He joined the regional team in 2000 as Manager of International Programs Windows, and between 2006 and 2007 served as Anti-Piracy Manager. He has also served as Director of the Public Sector for Microsoft in the area of Multi-American Countries (MCA), which includes the Caribbean, Central America, and Bolivia, as well as Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru. In 2011 he became General Manager of Microsoft Dominicana.

What are the dominant trends in the Dominican Republic's IT sector?

I see four mega-trends in the IT market. The first is the adoption of ICT by SMEs. Over the years, more and more small companies have been investing in ICT, to the extent that we believe that there are 50,000 such enterprises in the domestic market consuming technology. Yet, of those, only 1,000 were purchasing technology in any a given year, which was a low percentage. In 2012, that figure tripled to 3,000, in line with the government's plan to foster greater ICT investment and use in the Dominican Republic. The second trend involves interest from large-scale organizations, such as banks and insurance companies, in increased consumer-oriented ICT services. A third trend is the use of cloud computing. And the fourth mega-trend is in mobile phones, as more and more Dominicans use smart phones. There are as many as 130,000 in the market, which is half the number of PCs. We generate about 70% to 80% of all software services in this country, meaning that our market share in the Dominican Republic is one of the largest in Latin America.

How does Microsoft benefit from those trends?

SMEs are extremely important, not just for Microsoft, but for the overall economy, as they generate about 90% of all jobs. We are transforming Microsoft into a services and devices company, so the more SMEs start to see ICT as a necessary investment in their businesses, the better it is, not only for the overall ICT industry, but also for Microsoft in particular. We are helping to expand the market by selling to more companies, having tripled our sales in the sector. We also work closely with the government through several agencies, trying to help companies grasp the importance of systematic integration of ICT into their businesses, and to perceive the importance of ICT as an investment.

Which products generate the most sales?

Operating systems and productivity tools such as Office (including Word and Power Point), and so forth, account for about 50% of our market share in the Dominican Republic. However, over the past two years, enterprise services have risen dramatically, accounting for the other 50%. Growth of the enterprise business is outpacing that of the consumer business. With mobility being a key trend in evidence globally and locally, we are also highly focused in this area with products such as Windows 8.1 for tablets and PCs, and in the continued growth of Windows Phone. In Latin America in 2Q2013, IDC stated in their quarterly mobile phone tracker that Windows Phone was the second most preferred OS in the region. No company offers more services in the cloud than Microsoft, and moreover, on our customer's terms. Cloud computing is revolutionary in allowing companies to use as much of the service as they need, unlike in the past when they would have to invest in hardware and networks.

What is your outlook for 2014?

The fiscal year ending 2013 was a tough period—a year of transformation. Internal GDP declined to as low as 2%, which is unprecedented in recent years. However, we perceive considerable opportunity in the Dominican Republic's economy. When you compare our economy to the size of the country and population, it is remarkably large. There is much growth potential, and the more the economy grows, the more we will grow along with it, as companies can no longer do without ICT. Whether you are the owner of a restaurant, a hotel, or a bank, ICT is crucial. If we can spread ICT through better tools and better internet connections and infrastructure, we could triple the GDP of our country.