Microsoft Updates on its US$1.1 Billion Investment Plan in MexicoBy Andrea Villar | Fri, 03/12/2021 - 11:00
One year ago, Microsoft announced a five-year US$1.1 billion investment plan in Mexico. This week, the tech giant gave an update on developments, including the design and progress of the Queretaro datacenter region, the number of students already receiving digital skills training, a new social project focused on Retinopathy of Prematurity and the addition of a new CEO to its advisory board.
Shortly after the investment announcement, the pandemic hit Mexico and everybody was sent home and most industries had to shutdown operations. This led the GDP to plummet 8.5 percent in 2020, according to INEGI figures. The worst downturn in almost 90 years. Within this challenging environment, what has been the progress of Microsoft's 'Innovate for Mexico' plan to date?
The datacenter region, located in Queretaro, is already making significant progress, reported the company. "Once the data center region is available, it will start with three Azure availability zones, each zone consisting of one or more data centers with independent power, cooling and connectivity to reduce the risk of infrastructure failure," Microsoft said in a statement.
This design aims to provide redundancy and limited low latency as the zones are physically separated. “The availability zones offer customers options for designing high availability and resiliency into their mission-critical workloads,” the company reported. Through the data center, companies in the region will have greater access to Microsoft's cloud computing service, Azure. Microsoft has over 60 data center regions in approximately 140 countries.
Skills and Technology
Under the Virtual Innovation program, which aims to provide digital skills , Microsoft said more than 100,000 students have already enrolled. This program comprises two online training sessions: a general one and a specialized one. From May to October 2020, two general cycles were conducted covering five core topics: Management, Innovation, Research, Cloud and Production. The first specialized training cycle started in Feb. 2020 and aims to enable students to get a Microsoft certificate in advanced technologies such as Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Cloud Solutions.
Advisory Board and Partnerships
Microsoft's advisory board in Mexico, made up of the CEOs of América Móvil, CEMEX, Cinépolis, Grupo Bimbo, El Puerto de Liverpool, Consejo Mexicano de Negocios and Microsoft, was joined by the CEO of Coca Cola Femsa. “These companies have made significant progress in implementing strategies aimed at their digital transformation, as well as representing different industries to bring experiences and best practices to this forum,” the company stated.
“There is only one future, and it will be digital. We believe the Advisory Council, with the participation of top business leaders, will harness the power of new technologies, identify the needs of businesses and the ecosystem including the ability to contribute to accelerating Mexico's digital transformation,” said Microsoft Mexico CEO Enrique Perezyera in Feb. 2020.
As part of the Innovate for Mexico plan, the company, led globally by Satya Nadella, has also created partnerships with the Ministries of Economic Development in the states of Aguascalientes, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Colima, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Nuevo Leon, Queretaro, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Yucatan and Zacatecas. As well as with COPARMEX, the Business Coordinating Council (CCE) and Credijusto, which will provide financial support to companies through the Digital SMEs (Pymes Digitales) program.
“We share the same objective (with Microsoft): to support in strengthening companies in their process of adapting and digitally transforming to a new reality. These are times where we have to be empathetic and working hand in hand with companies like Microsoft definitely makes a difference in helping entrepreneurs take their business to the next level,” said Alejandra Calatayud, Chief Growth Officer at Credijusto.
In addition to Mako, the company’s Artificial Intelligence for Conservation of Pelagic Sharks project, Microsoft introduced a new initiative focused on the diagnosis of Retinopathy of Prematurity (RoP), together with Business Data and medical staff from the Association to Prevent Blindness (APEC).
“This project is a milestone that brings together cutting-edge technologies to enable the timely diagnosis of RoP, which can lead to blindness, and to contribute to reducing the rate of positive diagnoses of this disorder that currently affects twelve children in Mexico every day” reads the statement.
As a result of the pandemic, Microsoft decided to launch in December a fifth pillar to its investment plan in Mexico: Digital SMEs (Pymes Digitales). This program aims to support the digitalization and economic development needs of SMEs, one of the sectors most affected by the economic crisis in the country.
Of the 4.9 million MSMEs, according to INEGI figures released at the end of 2020, 3.9 million (79 percent) managed to overcome the crisis, just over one million (20.8 percent) permanently closed and 619,443 new businesses were established The Digital SMEs program seeks to support these companies through a diagnosis, catalog of solutions, financing, training and digital entrepreneurship.