Op-Ed: Open letter to Puerto Rico’s info tech sector
I was recently reading the January 2014 publication “Perspectivas“ from Estudios Técnicos and came across a quote that inspired me to write this letter.
“All nations have opportunities which they may grasp if only they can summon up the courage and the will … it is possible for a nation to take a new turn if it is fortunate to have the right leadership at the right time.“ – W. Arthur Lewis
I don’t have to tell you that Puerto Rico is going through the worst economic downturn in its modern history. Underfunded pension plans, overestimated government budgets, increased taxes, higher utility costs, and higher unemployment. Economic indicators like employment, cement sales and gasoline consumption show a constant downward trend. Bankruptcy filings are up from 2012 and the government’s credit rating is junk. Young professionals and retirees are leaving the island for one of the 50 states at an alarming rate.
As all of this happens, companies tend to be more cautious and more timid in terms of expansion and investments opportunities. It’s a normal and typical response. Once you identify the possibility of a risky future, you tend to preserve cash to maintain operations in rough times. Creativity becomes worry and strategic plans become no more than a cash flow strategy plan.
But as it becomes more evident day after day, the recovery from this depression won’t be easy. We have been trying to jumpstart our economy since 2008. Since then we have had government incentives, economic forums, multi sector summits, seminars from experts, and roadmaps. It is time that we stop thinking that things will be solved magically or that some federal agency will save us. If we don’t do it ourselves, nobody will.
There is no other way. We have to do it ourselves.
Puerto Rico’s Information Technology sector represents all that is great about our biggest asset, our people. Our people have the talent and the skills to excel in the global marketplace. Something envied by other cities and countries. Highly educated, bilingual, professional, quality oriented, multicultural.
We have to harness the power of our biggest asset and create our future. Not by exporting our people but by exporting our knowledge and creativity through exciting products and services.
So, this is my challenge to all of you.
- Ask yourself, what is your biggest competitive advantage?
- Use a lean methodology and create a product or service around it.
- Target customers and clients in the states and especially in Latin America.
- Hear your customers and ask for help.
- Be relentless.
Let’s focus on building intellectual property and products and services that people want. If we do that, the jobs will follow. The time to talk about plans is over. It is time to do and execute.
Focus on exporting. This is our platform. This is what’s needed from you.
Puerto Rico depends on it.