|Issue:||Latin America III 1998|
|Topic:||Connecting Latin America|
|Organisation:||IBM Telecoms and Media Industries, Latin America|
Latin America offe:rs tremendous growth opportunities for telecommunications and media as rapidly converging technologies and unprecedented digital opportunities reshape traditional lines of business and redefine the global competitive environment. Today, as technology responds to pent-up demand for telephone services and ushers in new avenues of communication, the dream of connectivity and new competitive services are becoming a reality. This is where IBM, with more than 25 years of experience, can provide the leadership to empower companies to achieve their dreams.
A new era in communications is dawning in Latin America and in all regions of the world, offering opportunities for unprecedented progress and growth. As we at IBM have seen here and in other regions, enlightened self interest is pushing businesses and government agencies to adopt advanced technology. Businesses find that modern telecommunications solutions help them improve their products and services, better serve their present customers, and attract and keep new ones – both in their traditional markets and in markets newly opened to them. Governments and other public institutions use these new solutions to better provide for the needs of the people. We all recognise that, in some nations, embracing modern telecommunications has presented challenges to political establishments or to traditional businesses. But we have learned that individuals and institutions that take advantage of these new solutions soon find new horizons opening up for them, in both the public and private sectors of their economies. Telecommunications providers in Latin America can seize opportunities and solve the issues they face by using new telecommunications tools wisely and aggressively. To find the support they will need to succeed, they can turn to others in the telecommunications industry who have already gained invaluable experience, here and in other parts of the world. The New World Economy Right now, we are experiencing one of those unique moments in history when events come together to create extraordinary opportunities. At one such moment, the printing press changed the course of the human race by making knowledge available to the masses. The internal combustion engine shrank distance. Today’s confluence of television, telecommunications, new entertainment media, and personal computers is creating an era of immediacy, in which information is available globally, at once, to all who want it. Never before have these three dimensions of our lives – time, distance and information – been altered so dramatically, simultaneously. And yet this is but one stream in a torrent of change that is sweeping the world. In addition to technological changes, political, social and economic changes are also transforming the ways governments serve their people and the ways they relate to and do business with their neighbours and other nations. Markets are becoming Globalised In all parts of the world, trade barriers are falling and markets are becoming globalised. In country after country, markets in which home industries have been protected for centuries are being opened to outside competition. Traditional state monopolies are being broken up as nations privatise or liberalise key industries, including telecommunications. Customers in almost all countries are enjoying new purchasing power and demanding more from their telecommunications providers. They are also enjoying unprecedented freedom of choice, selecting telecommunications products and services through the instantaneous purchasing capabilities of electronic business. Beyond “Plain Old Telephone Service” As digital transmission and recording methods contribute more to the spread of telecommunications services, companies in developing countries will be able to provide services beyond what we call Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). As telephone companies provide multiplying services in developed countries and reach more and more people in developing countries, we will see even more remarkable growth in that communications phenomenon of the last ten years, the Internet. Though estimates vary widely, our survey indicates that most experts think that by the end of year 2000, more than 150 million people around the world will be using the Internet. We will see more telephone companies providing Internet services – even as Internet companies provide telephone services. Meanwhile, broadcasting companies and technical service providers will continue to combine, providing distinctive new services in television programming, telephone and Internet services and data transmission. E-business: Pathway to Success To Latin American nations, their businesses and people, these changes in telecommunications mean more than better telephone service. They offer a pathway towards a more vibrant economic and business environment and to a better way of life for individuals. That pathway leads through what is called e-business or e-commerce, which encompasses all forms of business, including every transaction between buyer and seller that takes place over the Internet or by any other electronic means. E-business gives companies the means to encourage and satisfy rising consumer demand. It helps companies constantly create, market and distribute new, high-quality products and services. At the same time, the global reach of e-business rewards the customer with unprecedented freedom of choice and opportunities for self-service. For businesses, government agencies, and their customers and citizens, e-business provides the payoff from the changes reshaping the global economy today. Building the Infrastructure While e-business does not necessarily require brick and mortar buildings, it does require a modem communications infrastructure. In this radical reshaping of the telecommunications environment that awaits the nations of Latin America, IBM and other technical service providers can playa particularly significant role in providing all the key elements of the telecommunications infrastructure. These include: · network-ready hardware and software products that provide scalability and security; · application development services, with rapid replication and delivery over networks; · consulting services in defining IT strategies for telecommunications companies, as well as performance targets and organisational issues; · managed operations for customers unable or unwilling to take on the costs or risks of the huge investments required; · data network management to deliver reliable service over open, multi-vendor and multiprotocol networks; and, · tailored customer care solutions, an area where network computing can make particularly substantial contributions. Conclusion In Latin America, as in all regions of the world, the telecommunications industry must deliver products and services of the highest quality, at the lowest possible prices, meeting precisely defined needs and desires of customers. Working with technology leaders such as IBM and its business partners, Latin American governments and telephone companies can develop the products and services that will run on and pay for the technological infrastructure that is necessary to bring the fruits of the communications revolution to the people of the region.