5 posts

Technology enables incredible things, but only if we understand it

The title of this post was the main message of my talk at the TEDxINCAE 2017, shown in video bellow. Leveraging examples that ranged from initiatives in rural Guatemala to cutting edge research with a cloud infrastructure service provider, I argue that to make the most out of digital technologies you must overcome two barriers. The first, the obvious one, is the knowledge barrier. To overcome it (1) we must first realize that the technology exists, (2) then that it has value for us, and (3) finally we must learn how to use it. However, the most important barrier we must overcome is fear. I wrap up my talk suggesting that ignorance (the lack of knowledge) is not the same as stupidity (the inability to understand). Under the assumption that we have the ability to learn (i.e., that we are not stupid), we can beat ignorance with will.

Worth noting, the original version of the video is in the TEDx Talks channel. However, the slides do not show display well in that version, so included them in the version I show here. The talk took place in January 2017.

Tips for Friends Planning to Visit Costa Rica

In several occasions various friends, or friends of friends, have asked me for advice regarding what to do, where to stay, and several other logistics issues when traveling to my home country, Costa Rica. Some years ago I would go back to look for old emails I had written to other friends, made some adaptations, and resent the old messages. Of course, this involved quite some time. In the sake of efficiency, I decided to write this short and practical guide, hoping it covers most of the usual questions. I hope you find it useful, and please let me know if there’s anything you think I should add to it. These are my tips for friends planning to visit the happiest country in the world (more here), which is also a top overachiever in the global Social Progress Index.
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The Economic Value of the Cloud and its Adoption in Costa Rica

Cloud Computing, more than a new technology, is a new IT consumption model. It allows using and paying for resources on demand, avoiding any investment in fixed assets. With this model customers can attain tremendous cost savings, while at the same time having rapid access to IT resources that can be used to experiment, innovate, and grow, with having to wait for funding. Everyone should be using cloud services at least for some elements of their IT architectures.

However, the cloud model has a low adoption rate in Costa Rica. While 68% of firms claim to be using cloud services, only 38% are using something other than SaaS. Moreover, most of the SaaS users are running email (e.g., Gmail) and personal backups (e.g., DropBox), which are not necessarily cutting edge applications. Thus, the cloud in Costa Rica is still in its infancy.

In the video below (in Spanish) corresponds to a talk I gave on May 27, 2014, at the Costa Rican Technology Research Club to CIOs and managers from Costa Rican firms. Through the talk, we first go through the elements of the cloud business model. We then analyze its economic value, starting with the savings enjoyed by providers through their economies of scale and the aggregation of users’ demands, and then focusing on the value of the cloud’s scalability for end users. Finally, we discuss the results of a survey done to 174 Costa Rican firms to reflect if and how they are using cloud services. The talk received some media coverage in local newspaper El Financiero.

I hope to write more on these specific topics on separate posts.

Is PaaS our Silver Bullet?

Developing software is difficult. We may have the best developers in the world, the most agile development processes, and the best coding tools available, and it will continue to be difficult. This is so because of software’s nature, because of its essence. The only way of not having problems developing software is by not developing it! Could it be that modern PaaS technologies are the silver bullet we need to kill the software development werewolf?

Begegnung im Haus (Werwolf von Neuses)

Begegnung im Haus (Werwolf von Neuses) via Wikimedia Commons


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The Cloud as a Technological Innovation

How can we frame the cloud phenomenon within the technological innovation literature stream? Can we say it’s a naturally evolving creative destruction process where entrants offer services technologically superior to those of incumbents? Or is it more of a disruptive innovation, in the sense that the same standard servers we’ve used for years are now offered in a simpler and more cost-efficient manner appealing to the less demanding customers? If the cloud business model is technological discontinuity, is it competence enhancing or competence destroying? My conclusion is that the cloud is the fastest growing open innovation ecosystem we’ve seen yet, and however we frame it, it’s an exciting industry to study.

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