Microsoft: a platform for competitiveness
By Ernst & Young
The dissemination of technology in rapid-growth markets has been a vital catalyst of entrepreneurship and economic growth.
But despite considerable progress in recent years at bridging the digital divide, access to technology in rapid-growth markets remains well below levels in developed markets. According to a 2007 report from Euromonitor, lower-income countries account for just one-third of total broadband subscribers worldwide.
Josh Nash, a senior strategist at Microsoft, has seen an evolution in thinking on the digital divide in recent years. ``A few years ago, the hypothesis was that if you gave somebody a computer, they would figure out how to turn that into an opportunity which would lead to economic growth,’’ he says. ``I think over the course of time we realized there needs to be more to the equation than that.’’
Instead, companies like Microsoft increasingly see their role as providing a more holistic set of tools that will enable innovation to take place. Hardware and software form part of this, but there are also important roles for a broader ecosystem, including government, software developers, partners and innovators. And more importantly, this network needs to be appropriate for a particular market.
``Technology is not a silver bullet,’’ says Nash. ``It is an enabler of a broader, more holistic solution that can really make a difference.’’
Microsoft’s BizSpark program offers an example of this kind of collaboration. A global program that has to date helped 45,000 software startups succeed by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools and connecting them with key industry players, BizSpark is now available to entrepreneurs in a range of rapid-growth markets, including India.
``Rather than just provide access to technology, programs like BizSpark serve as a platform for innovation and economic growth,’’ he says. ``It’s really about providing the tools for innovation that will enable a country to make the most of its competitive differentiators.’’
This article was introduced as part of the recent Ernst & Young publication ``Innovating for the next three billion.’’