The Argentine software industry must change

The growth and strength that have characterized the Argentine software industry in recent years they have brought it to a crossroads with three possible destinations: consolidation as an important player in global business, dependent mediocrity and productive anomie.

The continuity of the current productive behavior condemns the software industry to a dependent mediocrity, tied to the ups and downs of a changing global market in which the financial activity -its greatest demand for lines of code paid in dollars- is rethinking its survival strategies.

What industry are we talking about? It is an industry with no demand for dollars to grow. The main input of the software industry is -nothing more and nothing less- than capacity and knowledge. Two conditions that Argentines can count as comparative advantages.

It is a favorable scenario to grow. There are clear signs of the importance that the country assigns to the so-called Knowledge Industries. Laws are enacted to support their development, voted by both the government and the opposition. Budgetary resources are allocated to increase the production capacity of this brain-intensive industry. In the population as a whole, there is an appreciative and hopeful opinion about the industry and its development.

The software industry has the goal of developing 400,000 new jobs by 2031

The promulgation at the beginning of this century of the Law for the Promotion of the Software Industry made possible the growing development of the activity for two decades, which, in addition to growing to become one of the first places in the Argentine export of intangibles, substantially increased the number of IT workers with basic skills that facilitate the transition to a new stage in the industry.

Is the industry organized to take advantage of the context? The answer is no. Reality shows us a labor market in which software workers, a basic input for the industry, have to sell their work cheap -locally or abroad- to help create what we will end up buying dearly as a result of that work.

An unnoticed player in productive growth: the Technology Demand

The Technology Claimant is a founding actor of technological and productive development. It is demand that generates technological innovation. This is how it was for micro-electronics what was called “the conquest of space” in which the Soviets and North Americans intertwined in the 1960s, and it was for North American security for the development of the Internet in more recent times.

Our country lacks players who assume the role of technology demanders of the software industry. That they guide and order production for the benefit of national SMEs in the sector and, in this way, contribute to the country’s trade surplus to the extent of the production volumes that can be achieved.

In the productive developments before they ended, the State has successfully fulfilled the role of Technology Claimant. An example that perhaps fits Argentina.

The Argentine State must actively assume its role as Technology Claimant. Frequent buyer of technological products developed by other countries and economic actors, he must make the political decision that installs him as a qualified claimant to establish the conditions and characteristics of a permanent and stable technological and productive development. Cybersecurity can be the engine of this development.

The software industry bulldozer created almost twice as many jobs as the automotive sector

An INVAP from the software industry?

Progress is being made on the idea of ​​establishing a state-owned software-producing company. The Secretary of Knowledge Economy Ariel Sujarchuk will exercise it publicly “with a model similar to that of Arsat and Invap, with the aim of having an agile response to the demands for solutions from the public sector”.

The success of a company of these characteristics requires the existence of demanding and precise applicants for the technology to be produced. It is not supply, but demand that generates technological and productive development. If those claimants exist and are present, the company can fulfill the objective of its creation.

The example of will and perseverance that is INVAP shows that it is a possible path. But it is essential to take into account the differences between that pride in Argentine development and the company that you want to create.

INVAP was born from the specific need of its initial Technology Claimant, which was CONEA, to be provided with zirconium, a material that was not produced in Argentina. INVAP had the two basic factors for its successful development.

Is the future of the software industry in Argentina in danger?

The company that is proposed to be created would be incorporated into a pre-existing productive sector, to produce products that others can also produce locally.. While INVAP generated a reduced and highly specialized labor market, workers in the software industry made up a large sector in constant growth, for which the necessary agreements have not yet been generated to ensure their rights to labor quality and protection of their health guaranteed by the National Constitution.

We believe that a possible model is to develop a public-private capital company, in whose management SMEs and workers in the sector participate, that formulates products and integrates parts developed by local companies, which are paid at international values. , but they are required to comply with product and process quality standards and procedures. In particular, apply wage levels for their workers that are competitive with those paid by companies that hire them from abroad, recovering their production and knowledge for the local market and integrating them into formal work.

The software industry must and can change. The more we postpone the political decision that reverses the situation of being a country whose workers provide software that are economic tributaries of the benefits of others, the more difficult it will be to competitively achieve the objective of being part of the countries that enjoy those benefits. The development policies that will be established and the accompaniment and leadership of the sectors involved that is achieved, will determine the fate of the industry at the end of this decade.

The author is President of Infoworkers

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