In the last two decades and surfing different economic crises, Argentina managed to add to the digital ecosystem more than ten unicorns, technology companies that manage to break the barrier of US $ 1000 million of quotation. Juergen Mueller, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of SAP, the global business solutions company, stopped by Buenos Aires to meet with two of these unicorns, Mercado Libre and Globant. In dialogue with Clarín, he pointed out that if financial stability is achieved, Argentina will continue to generate new innovative and disruptive companies.
Why did you come to see Mercado Libre and Globant?
-SAP has 28 years and a long tradition in Argentina. Mercado Libre is developing extremely fast and as SAP CTO I am sponsoring the relationship. It is an incredible company as a role model Argentina. And Globant is not only a customer, it is also an SAP partner.
-How do you see Argentina's innovative potential in the future? Will there be more unicorns in the midst of economic crises?
-For me one of the bases is always education and Argentina has a very good education system. That's always the seed. Therefore, I believe that more Free Markets and Globants can be created in Argentina.
Stability and financial investment are, of course, important. You need talents, great ideas and, of course, also funding at a certain point in the process. I wish Argentina the stability so that the probability of having new unicorns is even greater.
How is the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) impacting SAP's business?
AI is everyone's big topic of the moment and the good news is that AI is not new to SAP. We started eight years ago, in 2015, incorporating AI capabilities into our software. For us it is not a general-purpose technology, but very specific: we make AI real for Human Resources, for Finance, for Purchasing and to have better experiences. For example, we have clients using AI applied to Expense and Travel Management, helping them process over 40 million invoices.
But what is the impact of the optimization provided by AI? Cost reduction?
- All that. For example, we work with a large car manufacturer in Germany. They have a large fleet of trucks and logistics and nowadays they have a lot of manual administrative tasks. By introducing AI to help and assist with this, today they can save 3,000 hours of paperwork per day. Thus, implementing AI in the right way will make many tasks and processes cheaper, more efficient and more fluid.
-What will be the impact of AI on the labor market of this industry?
- The question is valid: will AI have an impact on jobs? Yes, it will have a massive impact. But, for example, the calculator also had an impact on the world of work. But the good news is that many good things and new work will also be developed. For example, one can become a prompt engineer, because AI, ChatGPT, for example, is only as good as the questions you are asked. These profiles have unique skills, and with a position like this you can get a salary of US $ 300,000 a year.
-Some industry leaders showed concern about the rapid development of artificial intelligence, even calling for slowing its advance...
We are following this very closely. We'll see where it takes us. I'm not worried that things aren't under control, but they could become critical.
At SAP we have had an internal Ethics Council since 2015 that analyzes everything that happens with AI and based on that develops internal policies. For example, we don't automate AI in decisions that directly impact people's lives, such as hiring and firing people. We will not integrate this into our solutions. Other companies may decide to do so, but we will not do so on our products.
-What about regulations? Should governments make laws about AI?
I think governments should think about regulations in the right way. The technology is available and it would not be feasible to try to ban it. But putting it to good use makes a lot of sense. There have been discussions in the United States and Europe about what to regulate and how much. I estimate that, in a couple of months, half a year or a year we will have an initial regulatory framework that will regulate some things and leave many opportunities open. We shouldn't over-regulate, of course, but we need to have some basic protection.