As Latin American nations work to modernize government by implementing new technologies to improve public services, IT used in the private sector could be harnessed to the benefit of more needy areas in society, and broadband could be the tool to streamline development, according to Irving Wladawsky-Berger, president emeritus of IBM's (NYSE: IBM) technology academy.
"Governments must ensure that broadband services are brought to all members of society and that private-sector best practices in new technology application are used for public benefit," he told BNamericas.
Infrastructure plays a key role to ensuring service delivery, a provision that could be guaranteed not just by contracts between private parties but as a public service - comparable to the supply of electricity, or health and transport services, which are publicly funded in most European countries - the expert said.
"There are so many good practices that should be transferred into the public domain, like back office solutions to reduce costs and increase quality. I know both sectors are different - you can't treat citizens like employees - but we are learning how to bring the best from the private sector to especially benefit the most vulnerable groups of our society," Wladawsky-Berger said.
Job generation is a key element to help societies emerge and develop, and technology could stimulate the job market. In turn, "jobs are generated in the private sector, mainly by small enterprises. So governments should be helping them to get connected to government cloud services, to have the infrastructure to access the cloud," said Wladawsky-Berger. "Broadband is a government responsibility.... Digital access is part of government's job."
"Small businesses and startups are the main drivers for job creation in an economy. We need [to foster] small businesses, so they can grow and generate more jobs. We need to help them get connected to the country's cloud services by providing them with the infrastructure to receive broadband services," he added.
Wladawsky-Berger also called on municipalities to grant loans to small companies to help them expand their workforces, and for governments to minimize barriers to creating new enterprises. "The best practice is that which will allow you to set up a company using the internet, and [for that company] to be up and running in a couple of days," he said.