UNO July 2023

Digitalization, a new Atlantic bridge between the EU and Latin America

Despite global challenges at a macroeconomic level (inflation, changes in manufacturing sector purchase indexes or declining consumption), the World Economic Forum estimates that roughly 70 % of the new economic value created over the next decade will be based on digital business models.

Due to its role in enhancing the resilience and efficiency of business and national operations, digitalization will continue to gather momentum and attract investment. However, this also presents questions around topics such as digital sovereignty, the need for agreements on the deployment of 5G/6G, data privacy and ethical concerns regarding artificial intelligence.

Because of its contribution to the resilience and efficiency of business and country operations, digitalization will sustain its momentum and investment. Yet this also entails major stakes

The European Union recognized the importance of digital transformation and acknowledged the uneven and restricted progress of the digital single market. As a result, it made digital transformation one of its key strategic priorities in late 2019, aiming to address the new challenges and opportunities emerging in the digital landscape.

Following the Commission’s approval of stimulus measures directly before the COVID-19 pandemic, a Recovery and Resilience Plan was drafted in July 2020 that highlighted digital transition and the green transition as key pillars for directing investment by Member States. 

Spain rising in the ranks

Digitalization in Spain already contributes over 20 % of the GDP and continues growing pace with the boost of national digitalization plans —”España Digital” and “España Puede” — and EU Next Generation funds.

The latest data from the European Commission’s DESI report confirms this trend. Spain ranks seventh among the 27 EU member countries, significantly improving its ranking from the twelfth position in the 2017 DESI index.

Spain’s EU Council Presidency is a unique opportunity to bolster the already solid ties linking Europe and Latin America

Spain’s strong performance in connectivity and digital public services is noteworthy. Although there is still room for further improvement in human capital and technology integration, by the end of 2025 the digital sector in Spain could represent 40 % of GDP, according to the Secretary of State for Digitalization and Artificial Intelligence.

While Spanish companies and administrations are making positive strides in digitalization, it is important to continue to consolidate this progress to position Spain among the most advanced countries in Europe, alongside the Nordic countries. The goal is to turn the country into a European benchmark in digital platforms and services. 

Collaborative model

Latin America exhibits a similar pattern of “multi-speed” digitalization, with countries like Mexico, Argentina, and Chile leading the way compared to the rest of the region. The Cisco Global Digital Index report found that over half of the countries in the region have low levels of digital maturity.

Accelerating digitalization at the national level requires a public-private partnership model involving administrations, technology suppliers, business associations, industry and the entire partner ecosystem. At Cisco’s, this is how our Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) program works. Since it was established in 2015, it has been implemented in 48 countries, with well over 1,400 initiatives completed or underway, covering more than two-thirds of the world’s population and 75 % of the global GDP.

CDA is seen as a strategic partnership with governments that drives the national digital agenda and creates new value for the country, businesses and citizens. Its mission is to foster an inclusive future for everyone, promoting digital transformation, innovation and opportunities. 

Mexico has been a pioneer in deploying the CDA program in Latin America, solidifying Cisco’s reputation since 2016. Our commitment to making a meaningful impact on communities fuels our pursuit of scalable, sustainable, and inclusive outcomes for the nation.

A unique opportunity

Digitalization fuels economic growth, contributing to GDP, competitiveness and job creation. Spain’s upcoming presidency of the EU Council in the second half of the year presents a unique opportunity to reinforce the strong ties that bind Europe and Latin America.

The EU is firmly committed to fostering financially, environmentally, and socially sustainable growth in the region, with a clear objective of expanding the technological cooperation that bridges us across the Atlantic.

Priorities should focus on finalizing ongoing trade agreements, promoting financing instruments, investing in renewable energies and energy efficiency, and expanding investment in human capital, training and digital skills to create quality jobs.

At the enterprise level, technology partners capable of delivering a combination of three key elements are essential for innovation (with digital platforms that reduce complexity), trust (with proven and secure solutions) and choice (through pay-as-a-service and pay-per-use models).

Through digitalization, now is the opportune time to build a new Atlantic bridge with Latin America, promoting innovation

Technological disruption is a crucial factor in driving progress. The new semiconductor design lab, co-located at our Barcelona Innovation Center, will help put the EU at the forefront of next generation networking chips, attracting talent and with designs that can be exported around the world.

Promoting digital education and training is essential to ensure that everyone can benefit from progress. Cisco is actively promoting this initiative with its non-profit Networking Academy (NetAcad) program, which has already trained 17.5 million people in digital skills and aspires to train a further 25 million over the next decade.

Cisco is strongly committed to making a positive impact on countries and communities through digitalization. We believe that now is the opportune time to build a new Atlantic bridge with Latin America, promoting innovation, driving economic growth, and creating an inclusive and sustainable future for all.

Andreu Vilamitjana
Managing Director at Cisco Spain
Electronics Engineer from Ramón Llull-La Salle University, MBA from ESADE and graduate of the Advanced Management Program at INSEAD. With almost 30 years of experience in the ICT sector, he was Global Vice President of Vertical Business at Sage and General Manager of the SMB and Start Up Division at Sage Spain. Previously, he held the positions of Commercial General Manager at T-Systems Iberia and Director of Large Enterprises and Public Administrations at Orange. Since 2019 he is Managing Director at Cisco Spain and member of the Boards of Directors of DigitalES and Autelsi and of the US Chamber of Commerce in Spain.

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