30% GDP DIGITIZED BY 2020

Portugal 2019 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Gabriel Coimbra, Group Vice President and Country Manager of IDC Portugal, on integrating IT with the broader economy, advisory roles, and leveraging Big Data.

What is your assessment of the increasingly mobile and integrated position of IT amongst companies and individuals?

IDC is a global research and advisory firm founded in 1964 with the goal of supporting the ICT industry. Since then, we have been helping ICT companies understand market trends and opportunities. As ICT has become more ubiquitous, our role has expanded and evolved, our goal today is to advise top organizations from every industry navigate in the Digital Transformation Era.

What are some of the challenges companies here face in terms of maximizing efficiency through technology?

There are many challenges for firms in Portugal and all over the world. The expansion of Digital Transformation at a macroeconomic scale signals a new, Digital Transformation (DX) economy. Enterprises must facilitate DX through their use of 3rd Platform technologies to create value and competitive advantage through new offerings, new business models, and new relationships. In order to achieve these goals, businesses should focus on using 3rd Platform tools to transform their decision making and experience delivery. In this context businesses need a thorough understanding of 3rd Platform technologies to capitalize on improved decision making and to deliver enhanced, customized experiences to stakeholders. The rapid acceleration of 3rd Platform technology adoption means that organizations need to actively be looking for ways to deliver transformation. IDC calls this new paradigm the third platform, and it is defined by the cloud, mobility, big data, and social technologies that are foundational elements of digital transformation in every company. In addition to these four pillars, we have innovation accelerators, which are technologies that are developed on top of these pillars. These include IoT, virtual reality, blockchain, robotics, and 3D printing, among others. All these technologies are now available for all companies, which need to understand how these technologies can help their business processes, create better experiences for their clients and customers, and create new products and services. They must embrace innovation-accelerating technologies in order to remain competitive in the digital economy. They also need to change their culture and their internal processes.

How can IDC help investors in Portugal make the right technology decisions?

IDC helps ICT companies understand market trends and opportunities. For other sectors, such as banking, retail, manufacturing, and public administration, we help them navigate in the Digital Transformation Era with a portfolio of decision making methodologies that enable you to make more informed strategic decisions, understanding technological trends, business requirements, and technology options.

What steps does IDC take to better leverage big data analytics?

IDC is a data-centric research company. We crunch a great deal of data on IT and digital markets and analyze this data using advanced techniques such as machine learning and advanced statistics to understand trends in technology and build test models to help companies understand how technology changes the entire economy. We also advise companies how to monetize data, build information architecture, security and privacy strategies, as well as new business strategies around data.

What challenges do you face when it comes to recruiting analysts?

As a global company, we have recruited more than 10 Portuguese analysts and data scientists in the last five years. We currently have 1,100 analysts and many Portuguese employees working outside Portugal. We have some of the very best Portuguese talent working with us. On the other hand, Portugal is losing many of its best people to other markets. In this context we have been working with government institutions and private and public universities to better understand how Portugal can create an environment that appeals to the best people in Portugal, inviting in the education system, retraining unemployed workers, and also create an strategy for bringing talent from other countries. In the last 10 years, France, Germany, Canada, US and many other countries have imported Portuguese talent, and we want to entice them back home and bring others with them.

What policies need to be addressed to attract more investment in technology and knowledge-intensive industries?

We have made excellent progress in the last five years, though there is still more work to be done. Other countries are doing more to develop their ICT and digital ecosystems, and we need to make sure we do more to compete in this long run. In my opinion People (not technology) is key in this long run, inviting in the education system, retraining unemployed workers, and also create an strategy for bringing talent from other countries. In fact, I believe that the key aspects is how we can create a strategy to import new talent. We also need to make sure that our Government is also able to lead the digital transformation in Portugal. Our Government need to invest more to enact an effective digital transformation in the public sector and induce transformation in the economy and society in general. And of course, we need to have leading Digital Transformation examples and structured ecosystems in our key industries (Tourism, Textiles Manufacturing, Education, and Health just to mention four that in my opinion are key for our economy and competitive position globally).

What are your expectations for Portugal's economy in the coming years?

By 2020, more than 30% of Portuguese GDP will be digitized, with growth in every industry driven by digitally-enhanced offerings, operations, and relationships. In this context, IDC forecasts ICT investments to reach almost EUR8.4 billion by 2021 and grow at an average annual rate of 3.1% over the period 2016-2021. But the most important is that technologies associated with the 3rd Platform and the Innovation Accelerators, the enabler for Digital Transformation in all other industries, will grow at an average rate of 12.1% and represent around ¾ of the market in 2021.