Cesar Cernuda, president of Microsoft Latin America and corporate vice president of Microsoft Corporation, discussed digital transformation in the Latin American region at a Feb. 22 event hosted by Georgetown University’s Latin America Leadership Program, Global Business Initiative, and Center for Latin American Studies.

Paul Almeida, dean and William R. Berkley Chair, and Ricardo Ernst, Baratta Chair in Global Business and director, Global Business Initiative, joined Cernuda. The world is experiencing an era of unprecedented opportunity, Cernuda explained, and much of the growth we will experience over the next decade will be driven by artificial intelligence (AI) and digital transformation.

“The world is transforming, the way we are engaging, learning, and working … it is way more digital than in the past,” said Cernuda. “The first priority of CEOs in Latin America is to transform the company digitally.”

He reminded the audience that AI is already part of our lives through daily interactions with Siri or Alexa. Also, he stressed that with the ability to produce even more data from machine-users interactions, AI will allow businesses to be more consumer-centered.

In addition, Cernuda mentioned the need to understand technology and business in order for companies to anticipate future needs and adjust. He referenced the global presence of Microsoft, especially in Latin America.

“The region has a sizable young population and language and cultural similarities across countries that allow to us to leverage sizeable economies of scale,” said Cernuda.

Among the attendees was Jose Rafael Monagas, Global Competitiveness Leadership Program participant from Venezuela, who believes that Latin America needs to pay more attention to digital transformation.

“Cernuda's talk on innovation and digital transformation was very inspiring to us coming from developing countries, where we are still paying little attention to such an important matter,” said Monagas. “Embracing and accelerating digital transformation in our region will help us close the gap with developed countries at a faster pace.”

Roberto Mendoza, another Global Competitiveness Leadership Program participant from Mexico, found laudable Microsoft’s emphasis on doing good while, at the same time, remaining profitable.

“Technology is now playing a big role in delivering good to society,’ said Mendoza “Today, it is necessary to be socially responsible as a corporation. This dictates new ways to do business, new opportunities.”

Microsoft sponsors Georgetown University's Innovation and Leadership in Government program, which seeks to equip public managers of the Americas with analytical frameworks and tools to generate and implement innovative public policies.