Countries that do nothavesufficient infrastructure continue to be at risk of missing the benefitsof the digital economy, says Victoria A. Espinel
Victoria A. Espinel is president and CEO of BSA-The Software Alliance—a US-based lobby for software publishers including firms like Microsoft and Apple. In a recent interview, Espinel insisted that India is an important market for BSA and that she was in the country to meet government officials on policy issues. Edited excerpts:
Where does India stand in BSA’s global cloud scorecard of 2018?
As far as India is concerned, there is a fair amount of progress to be made in the cloud computing environment. India ends up at 20 out of 24, so it is pretty low. This is primarily because of two reasons. One, there is lack of clarity in privacy laws. We are glad that India is moving towards a privacy regime but we wish that it had one already. Unfortunately, privacy laws are still absent or insufficient in several countries. Brazil and Thailand have no comprehensive laws in place, while laws in China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam remain very limited. Potentially the situation could get better depending on how the privacy regime turns out to be. However, if the government moved in favour of data localization that would again raise concerns for us. And two, India lags in terms of broadband deployment and IT readiness.
Despite major infrastructure improvements, broadband penetration remains very inconsistent. Our scorecard suggests that countries that do not yet have sufficient infrastructure continue to be at risk of missing the economic benefits of the digital economy and cloud computing. Singapore, Japan and Korea achieve the highest results in this section of the report, while countries like Vietnam, Indonesia and India perform poorly.
How do you perceive the future of the software industry?
All sectors today are using software in some form or the other and often developing it in-house, so the importance of software is only going to increase. I think what is interesting to think about is where software-enabled technologies are going to go. For instance, blockchain does not exist without software, Internet of Things is software, quantum computing is software, virtual reality is software—in fact, emerging technology is all software and the question is where is that going to take our society and what are the economic implications of that? And from our perspective, what are the important policies for the governments to be thinking about as technology which is software, and is changing so quickly.
What are your views on open source software vs licensed software?
Both open source software and proprietary licensed software have their own place in the ecosystem. We are tech neutral and in our view, both are valid and legitimate. Customers should use the model that makes sense for them.