Montevideo, Uruguay. April  29 to 30, 2019 . Torre Ejecutiva.


The constant changes in the current economic dynamics force companies, governments and societies to generate and constantly build capacities for adaptation, resilience and reinvention. At the global level, the phenomenon of the fourth industrial revolution has rapidly transformed productive processes, the relationship between suppliers and demanders, educational systems and mechanisms for social interaction, with emphasis on four priorities: cost reduction, optimization in the use of time, increased quality and wide range of solutions to needs.

In this industrial revolution, the digitization has become the cornerstone of innovation, supporting major changes in other areas of knowledge such as nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, which have resulted in the creation of new goods and services, the generation of new circuits of international trade and the formation of new productive chains.

For these reasons, digitization provides great opportunities to promote the performance of the regional economy with emphasis on MSMEs, and is no longer an option but a necessity. Through it, it is possible to optimize production processes, facilitate communication with suppliers and customers, and explore new markets faster and at a lower cost.

Empirical evidence has confirmed the positive impact of digitization on economic growth and productivity. According to The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), SMEs that implement technological solutions see their revenues increase at a rate 15% higher and create jobs twice more quickly than those that rejected the technological advances. In addition, according to estimates, the use of data analysis techniques for decision-making has enabled gains of 6% to 8% in productivity in the OECD countries.

At present, Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from low levels of productivity and international competitiveness. This lag is much more pronounced in small-sized enterprises, whose labour productivity level is six times lower than that of the large ones, in contrast to the OECD countries where large companies are two times more productive than the smallest ones.

In order to face up to this reality, the countries in the region have undertaken productive transformation and diversification programmes to generate profound changes in their economic structures. Innovation, the adoption of new technologies and digitization are part of the cross-cutting themes that are being addressed with special emphasis for MSMEs.

Despite the efforts made, big challenges have arisen and prevent full exploitation of benefits of the digital industry, such as the development of significant institutional changes to regulate the activities of the Industry 4.0, the training of skilled labour to accompany this kind of projects, the creation of mechanisms that ensure the financing required for this type of investment whose returns are uncertain, and the promotion of optimum security and privacy measures.

Thus, with a view to contributing to greater synergy in this thematic area, a proposal is made to hold a meeting that would serve as a space for presenting and discussing regional and international experiences in the implementation of a digital agenda for productive transformation, with emphasis on policies aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises.