Silicon Valley was not made overnight. The home that today houses technological giants such as Microsoft, Google, Apple and Facebook, began in the 1970s as a place where many companies manufactured silicon chips, a product that set the tone to open the market to a whole computer boom.
If something characterized the awakening of the most avant-garde area of the planet, it was its location and the domino effect that caused the creation of one company after another; hence the famous concept of the “eight traitors”, who left some technology companies to create their own projects.
Since its founding to date, Silicon Valley has built its own fame: being a cradle of innovation, disruption and generation of ideas with high impact for the life of society, companies and governments and institutions. Powers such as China and India have entered this race, but Mexico has also raised its hand with a potential region: El Bajío.
Carlos Funes Garay, president of the National Chamber of the Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technologies Industry (CANIETI), highlights the potential of this area to become a hub for technological development:
“Without a doubt, it is a region that offers broad advantages for the development not only of the IT industry, but of almost all sectors in general […] The development of the states that make up this area in economic, industrial and educational matters stands out from the national average and this is reflected in the high attraction of investment and talented people”, points out the CEO of Softtek.
Guillermo Ortega, co-founder of iTexico, agrees with this position. For the director of the technology firm with a presence in Aguascalientes and Guadalajara, there are several opportunities for the growth of this industry in the Bajío, however, he considers that it is essential to continue creating talent aimed at this market in educational institutions and strengthen synergy with the Business:
“It is essential that the institutions take charge of generating more engineers. Let them work on it from high school and middle school […] If we focus only on higher education, we will not achieve it. The important thing is to encourage our students to want to study engineering and to see the opportunities that this discipline offers for their lives and those of their families”, mentioned the manager.
How to develop a true Mexican Silicon Valley?
For Carlos Funes Garay, Mexico in terms of technology is a country of many contrasts. On the one hand, he refers, it has large national and foreign companies that have made significant investments in technology, while, on the other, it highlights small and medium-sized companies with a wide technology gap.
The above, says the specialist, causes the country’s competitiveness to be compromised, since a good part of the organizations still need to adopt ICT in order to be able to transform digitally and be successful in the new global economy.
Despite this, he highlights that Mexico represents the second largest market in Latin America in terms of IT adoption: “The significant number of large global and local companies make Mexico the second and many times the first investment destination in Latin America from the large global technology companies, which shows that our position in Latin America is good”, he mentions.
However, on the international radar he highlights several areas of opportunity: “We are still far from reaching the full potential we have; in fact, we have fallen in our position as an exporter of IT services in the world, from a third position to a sixth place, according to McKinsey studies. Even if we consider IT services exports as a percentage of services exports in the trade balance, today we are in tenth place according to data from the World Bank and the UN”, he points out.
So how do you trigger the positioning of this market? For Guillermo Ortega, a period of at least six years of continuity is required in strategic projects focused on the sector but, above all, a thought without fear of risks:
“It takes a period of taking risks and resolutely wanting to conquer the world. That’s what Silicon Valley did, we can learn about risk and investing from the business community. My partner and I, for example, we did not pay a single peso during the first two years […] Our purpose was higher: to surprise the world with Mexican talent and want to position ourselves as leaders in Latin America”, reflects the businessman.
Funes Garay shares this position. For the manager, as a country it is necessary to put a strong focus on the development of public policies that allow accelerating the growth of the industry and the development of a greater number of large local players with export capacity, attracting greater investment from large companies in Global IT, encourage the creation of startups based on technology and innovation and develop the talent that can be the support of all this:
“Today, the large global players predominate in the industry and outside of two or three large national companies such as Softtek, most Mexican IT organizations are still small or medium-sized […] Mexico has great potential to export related services to technologies, we are in a strategic geographical position and, above all, we have the talent to do it”, he explains.