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The pandemic and the acceleration of digital transformation: An acceleration forced by the circumstances

Montevideo, February 2021- During 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic forced Latin American and Caribbean countries to make profound changes in the way they work, consume, and socialize, with the purpose of minimizing the health impact. Digital technologies played a key role in this adaptation process. 

For this collection of articles, LACTLD presents three complementary approaches to understand the impact the pandemic has had on the acceleration of digital transformation in the region. Raúl Echeberría, ALAI’s Executive Director; Ernesto Bojórquez, NIC Mexico’s CEO and member of LACTLD’s Board of Directors; and specialists from eLAC-CEPAL’s Technical Secretariat share their viewpoints about these challenging times and their potential future implications. On this occasion, they discuss the acceleration forced by the circumstances of the pandemic.

Remote work, e-commerce, digital economy. The health emergency has accelerated the transformation processes that had already begun in the countries of the region. As explained by eLAC-CEPAL’s Technical Secretariat, “companies have had to adapt, in a very short period of time, to social distancing measures and have had to digitalize their business processes and operations. Also, during this time, consumers have increased their online consumption and modified their consumer habits.”

The data speaks for itself. During 2020 second quarter, LACTLD’s members witnessed the highest quarterly growth peak since 2016. In April, our members registered a year-on-year growth that surpassed 24 percentage points when compared to 2019, while in May this difference was 64 percentage points, and 57 in June. During the pandemic, over 740.000 domains have been registered in the region. “Before this crisis, the current levels of digitalization and digital transformation would have been expected to happen in over two years,” said Ernesto Bojórquez.

“According to MercadoLibre, one of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the region, between late February and early May, the orders placed through the platform witnessed an 80% increase on average (in some countries, there was a 125% increase). Moreover, during this period, new shoppers in the platform increased by 45%. The increasing popularity of platforms and services that facilitate remote work is another relevant factor. Web traffic to such sites (e.g., Zoom, Webex, Google Meet) went up by 370% between February and March,” stated eLAC-CEPAL.

– The original post was published in the LACTLD Report No. 12