Orlando Ayala Keynote: Government Leaders Forum 2008—Americas (GLF Americas 2008)

Remarks by Orlando Ayala, Senior Vice President, Unlimited Potential Group Microsoft Corporation
Miami, April 3, 2008

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Scott Shuster.

SCOTT SHUSTER: Please take your seats, ladies and gentlemen. Those in the back, please come in, take your seats so that we can begin.

Welcome back. Welcome to our session on Information Technology and Digital Services for Social Development. I’m Scott Shuster, your moderator. Start using your interpretation device now. The language used will change very suddenly throughout the session: Spanish, Portuguese, English. To catch it all during this conversation, choose your channel, and wear your headsets starting now.

Technology for Social Development: That’s one area of technology where the United States of America has not provided a useful example. The U.S. government had no strategic plan for this. Computers spread in America based only on ability to pay.

Bringing information technology to poorer populations demands a plan, a new method, some kind of an interdisciplinary approach that will somehow involve government, non-governmental organizations, plus the private companies that own the technology.

Bill Gates calls this creative capitalism or social business, but there’s no standard model for how to do this. It’s completely new.

So, as a government officeholder with social development responsibilities in your country, what do you do?

Starting 25 minutes from now, we’re going to have an open discussion of this question, and you’ll be invited to join in with Argentina Senator María Eugenia Estenssoro of Buenos Aires, thank you for being here; Mayor Edinho Silva of Araraquara, Brazil, thank you for coming; Nivaldo Marcusso from the Fundacao Bradesco, the Bradesco Foundation of Brazil; Luis Anavitarte from Gartner Group, the number one technology industry analysts, and Luis is leader of all research on the application of technology in emerging market countries, worldwide, that discussion begins in 25 minutes.

But first to understand the goal we turn to Orlando Ayala, senior vice president of Microsoft Corporation, and leader of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential group, the part of Microsoft that is focused on the 5 billion people who are not yet benefiting from the digital revolution.

The fact that Microsoft assigned Orlando Ayala to head Unlimited Potential is significant. Orlando is one of the top central leaders of Microsoft. He’s been working closely with Bill Gates since 1991. Again and again, Orlando is the one who steps out ahead to take Microsoft into a new region or introduce a new Microsoft technology or sell to an altogether new group. Microsoft has an impressive record of success built on Orlando’s ideas and approaches.

Now with worldwide authority for Unlimited Potential, Orlando Ayala’s presence at the forefront of this effort announces the significance that Unlimited Potential has within Microsoft, and also the high probability of its success.

Let’s greet him now; Microsoft’s senior vice president, Orlando Ayala. (Applause.)

ORLANDO AYALA: Good morning. Buenas dias.

Thank you very much, Scott, and I appreciate so much the opportunity to address you a couple of minutes to speak to this important and very simple premise — powerful, compelling, and simple, the philosophy of Microsoft, which I’m sure you will agree, and it is this: every human being is born with huge potential that is not realized. Therefore I think we can agree that every human being has the right and should enjoy the right to develop and realize that potential. That, my friends, is what we’re about. That is the aim of Microsoft, to develop and implement new technologies and business models so that the development of 5 billion people in the world can be developed from a social and economic standpoint, the 5 billion who are outside the scope of access to information technology.

Now, we know that over the last 35 years technological progress and the cost of acquiring this technology has opened an historic opportunity for inclusion that is not only of a digital nature, but, much more important, of a social and economic nature.

So, the question that arises from this simple premise is not easy to translate into action. That is, how — how can we use technology, how can we harness technology in order to achieve this enormous potential?

Objectives have to be clear, and they have to be oriented toward absolutely concrete and time-sensitive results. That is the human progress that we wish to achieve.

The mission in its essence is simply to avail ourselves of the technological progress that has been done in order to trigger the economic and social opportunities that the 5 billion people who don’t have a chance to use this are able to do so. On that socioeconomic pyramid only the first of 6 billion people in the world enjoy the privilege of digital access.

You may know that last January in Davos the famous World Economic Forum held in Davos, Bill Gates just recently underscored the fact that, as he said all along, government, together with multilateral organizations, together with private enterprise, together with nonprofit foundations and entities, must coordinate the search for large scale opportunities so that the vast, vast numbers of the population of the world that is still outside the benefit of the positive, positive outflow of capitalism, can benefit from it, can tap into the economic progress that will devolve from better social and corporate responsibility on the part of all.

President Moreno of the IADB (Inter-American Development Bank) spoke about this at the press conference and earlier in the plenary. We know that there are various models of prosperity, but they must, whatever their stripe, include the less favored, the less advantaged, and that is what will create sustainability in the long run, without doubt.

But let’s be very clear: The lack of technology is certainly not the only problem that we face; there are a number of other circumstances that generate lack of opportunity in the region. In fact, we really could think of technology more as a digital bridge that can be used in order to unite both sides of the gap. But how does that gap arise? That is what we need to consider.

In our standpoint, in our judgment there are three major pillars that we need to take into account that will focus on technology from a positive and practical standpoint to create the social and economic opportunities that we want. We’re talking about the need for investment, legislation, and implementation that is absolutely geared toward concrete results.

Now, without in any way leaving aside the importance of such other elements as education and health for long term development on an economic and social plane, these other elements we think are also important.

There is no question that competitiveness has to be thought of today not only from a regional standpoint but from a global standpoint, and every government has to make sure that from square one, from the earliest schooling opportunities, little boys and girls are empowered to recognize their potential and to carry it out through the education that is, in fact, made available to them. That is the major investment that will always be reaped in future.

But not only within the schoolroom but outside of the schoolroom that’s what we’re looking at. We see immense educational opportunities that the use of technology, if it is invested in, if it is made available, can certainly make available and increase on an exponential level.

Education then is certainly the starting point for the tools that we need to forge for the new opportunities that have to be generated for us all, innovations that have to be thought of in terms of business models, and upcoming technology. We have to think out of the box and find new ways to move forward. But there will only be an opportunity to truly reap those benefits if the job opportunities are there for the kids who have been educated properly today to really profit from them. That is what we feel that is before us, and the partnership that can be established and that must be established and strengthened between the private sector, the intergovernmental sectors, and the nonprofit organizations are the way to go.

At the press conference, President Moreno of the IADB spoke of this. We have that wonderfully expanded POETA in Opportunities for Employment through Technology in the Americas (POETA) program, which was conceived in the Organization of American States, and to which Microsoft and now the IADB are contributing greatly.

So, we’re talking about a wide vision, a broad ranging understanding of what can be done through this partnership, and POETA, of course, allows us to tap into that potential, not only for people living with disabilities but in general.

This is key, because when people in general move into the formal sector of the economy, the economy as a whole is strengthened, and is, in fact, a step into a win-win virtuous cycle that will benefit all.

One has to educate the community and innovate as a community, and it is through that that better investments in this business ecosystems can be carried out. It’s a self-sustaining loop, which will end up generating better job opportunities for all. This is what we feel will be sustainable and make the society of the future viable for all.

The use of technology in this equation is quite simple: It’s the catalyst, it’s the trigger. For this, of course, the technology has to be available, and for it to be available it has to be available at an affordable price.

So, the question for us is how we can work better with our partners in this broad-ranging alliance for the common good, in doing so, and only in doing so do we think we will be able to devise the solutions and the models at the necessary scale for economic and social benefits to be obtained by all.

Let me give you a couple of concrete examples as to how we’re using low-cost technology to transform education.

There is no question that the use of technology, low-cost technology for education has created a veritable revolution, but the use of low-cost, affordable, digital technology actually has a benefit that is much broader than the immediate one that comes to mind. There are schools where everybody has a PC, others in which a number of students are on the same PC, but the idea is always to create a system that will make possible the better capacity building of not only the teachers, the trainers, the students, the institutions, the communities as a whole, but the economy at large. This is what we mean when we talk about realizing human potential from day one. And, of course, it isn’t just school. We’re talking about parents as well.

I’d like to invite, if I may Rob Bayuk, a member of my team, who is going to give us a concrete example of how what I’ve been talking about here translates into fact. We have a couple of equipments here. He’s going to speak in English to make this a little more interesting. Don’t worry about it; I’ll pay for your Spanish classes next time around, my friend.

ROB BAYUK: With the emergence of low-cost laptops, countries are beginning to rethink their investments in technology. However, given limited resources, purchasing hundreds or even thousands of low-cost laptops, regardless of price, is not always the most realistic first step to empowering students and teachers with relevant technology that meets their needs.

Now, schools need to be positioned to derive value, beginning with the very first PC that comes into the classroom, and then developing a strategic plan for evolving that technology across a range of affordable solutions.

So, I’d like to show you a few different educational scenarios that span that range, starting with the very first PC that comes into the classroom.

So, many schools will begin with just one or two computers in a shared space or a classroom. So, in this example, with just one PC, multiple students can engage with this PC in an effective way to enhance their learning environment.

The technology is called Multipoint, and Multipoint enables more than one student to use a mouse with just one PC. So, applications are being developed that are really transforming the way computing is done in the classroom with just this one PC.

ORLANDO AYALA: So, multiple mouses, one computer?

ROB BAYUK: Exactly. Orlando, would you join me?

ORLANDO AYALA: Yeah, okay. I have my own cursor here.

ROB BAYUK: Exactly. We each have our own mouse, and so when we start the game — and this example is a very simplistic math game for younger grades where we’re solving an equation like three plus two.

ORLANDO AYALA: Like us.

ROB BAYUK: Yes, exactly. So, three plus two equals five, and so the idea is we’re on a space mission, and we’re adding fuel canisters — you’re going to beat me again, I think, but he is the boss after all.

ORLANDO AYALA: Come on, go!

ROB BAYUK: Okay.

ORLANDO AYALA: All right, I’ve got five.

ROB BAYUK: And he’s got five, but now the game isn’t over, because we are working together even though we’re working independently.

ORLANDO AYALA: But tell me, is this just about math? I mean, because there’s all kind of subjects that you need to address in a classroom, right?

ROB BAYUK: That’s correct. We could do this with history, science. Multipoint technology is really enabling all applications with the collaborative capabilities just starting with one PC.

ORLANDO AYALA: So, this is like one mouse per child, something like that.

ROB BAYUK: A mouse on every desk, exactly. (Laughter.)

ORLANDO AYALA: Good, okay. Next.

ROB BAYUK: Yes. Another interesting scenario is when you provide the teacher with a powerful tool. After all, the teacher is the most important resource in the room. So, the application I’d like to show you is called OneNote. Now, OneNote is a really powerful tool. It’s organized just like the old three-ring notebooks where it has different section dividers. Here for my teacher it has study guides, project ideas, and lesson plans. So, it really helps to keep the teacher organized.

In this case I can even share out my notebook in a Web view or I could share it with other teachers, lesson ideas, or even share it with students.

ORLANDO AYALA: Yeah, this reminds me actually of a great program that we have in Guatemala with great partnership with the minister of education there where the minister actually offered this tremendous program for teachers, about 50,000 or so teachers. And the plan was very simple: It was offering one computer to every teacher at a very low cost. In fact, I think they ended up paying less than 50 percent of the computer, and gave them a very long time to pay. We also did the partnership with a financial institution.

And by the way, Mrs. Lorena Morena is here. She is the director of the program. I really encourage you to see this, because I believe this is a program that can be implemented in every single country, because it’s not just about the kids, it’s very important; it’s about how you involve the teacher in proactive programs to get them engaged in the learning, too.

ROB BAYUK: Exactly. Yeah, it’s a powerful program that’s empowering the teachers with the tool they need to be successful.

But as many of you know, countries are purchasing low-cost laptops for students. Now, this has the potential to have a powerful impact on learning. However, it presents new challenges for teachers in managing the technology in the classroom.

So, I’d like to show you a couple things. So, in this example the teacher now can manage these PCs, for example, to introduce a lesson. I can quickly silence all the computers in the classroom.

ORLANDO AYALA: Yeah, see, I cannot do anything anymore. So, you basically locked all the students from the teacher’s station?

ROB BAYUK: I did. So, this is a great opportunity for where a teacher can now introduce the lesson and the learning instruction, and then when it’s time to start the lesson, I can actually unlock it, and send all the students a quick note that says, class will begin immediately.

ORLANDO AYALA: All right. And so right now you activated all the students.

ROB BAYUK: I did, exactly.

Okay. And so now as a teacher I want to distribute all of the students an assignment. So, I can open up my file distribution feature, and —

ORLANDO AYALA: So, you don’t need to do it with paper anymore. You just electronically move it to all the students in the class?

ROB BAYUK: Exactly. I’m dragging and dropping my assignment for today, and then quickly sending out to every desktop. So, it’s no more handing out the papers or I lost my assignment or I can’t find the paper.

ORLANDO AYALA: Okay.

ROB BAYUK: So, there you go.

ORLANDO AYALA: So, let me see if I — being a student, yeah, I think it sounds like I have here my assignment.

ROB BAYUK: Well, I guess you won’t be getting your homework done tonight, Orlando.

ORLANDO AYALA: Good, I’m free. That’s the idea, the idea is you move the assignments in.

ROB BAYUK: Exactly, so you’ve received your assignment, and then using a powerful tool such as Learning Essentials, students now have report templates that allow them to quickly start on that challenging process —

ORLANDO AYALA: So, this is pre-drawn. This is an application that allows a way the pre-drawn templates to do their reports?

ROB BAYUK: Exactly.

ORLANDO AYALA: I wish I had had that when I was studying.

ROB BAYUK: Yes, it would be quite handy.

Now, another great feature of this management software is the ability to manage the PCs that are in the classroom. Because oftentimes students might get lost in an application or if you have them on a Web site they might not be going to the certain Web site that they’re using. And so in this case I can actually watch what the students are doing, and if they were to get lost, I could actually use my mouse to take over the desktop.

It looks like one of my students is playing a game.

ORLANDO AYALA: I’m sorry. I’ll go back, teacher. No, I know we have the same uniforms, but it’s okay.

ROB BAYUK: School uniforms.

ORLANDO AYALA: Okay, I’m back here, sorry.

ROB BAYUK: Thank you. So, with this powerful classroom orchestration software —

ORLANDO AYALA: So, the idea is that you can actually see what every single one of the students is doing, and in case they need help, or they need to be called out and say go back.

ROB BAYUK: Just to keep everything running smoothly in the classroom.

ORLANDO AYALA: Okay, that sounds great.

ROB BAYUK: And it actually keeps the teacher focused on the learning objective and less time managing the technology.

ORLANDO AYALA: Yeah, that’s it exactly. This is what it should be, right? Teachers shouldn’t be focused on technology, but focused on learning outcomes, how you really empower these kids to learn more and interact with them.

ROB BAYUK: Exactly.

ORLANDO AYALA: All right.

ROB BAYUK: So, now as costs continue to come down with technology, and even these low-cost laptops are increasing in power and capabilities, we’re already starting to see Tablet PCs being brought into the classroom. As you know, with the tablet, with just a pen, students can actually just input their writing just as if they’re writing in their notebooks.

Now, I have my student, Josh, here, in the front row, and he —

ORLANDO AYALA: So, what is he doing here?

ROB BAYUK: He is working on a new problem just using his pen. Because as you know, one of the biggest challenges for teachers is getting students to interact. So, I can use an application here that’s called Classroom Presenter, and Classroom Presenter was developed in collaboration between the University of Washington and Microsoft, with the explicit goal of enabling students to engage using their PC.

ORLANDO AYALA: So, what is he working on right now?

ROB BAYUK: So, he’s working on the Pythagorean theorem, and now I’ve got the theorem there, and I have an actual problem that I want him to work on.

So, now Josh can actually work on this and submit his answers.

ORLANDO AYALA: So, what you have in the right-hand side, what are all these windows?

ROB BAYUK: Yes, those windows along the right side are actually all of the students’ submissions in the classroom. So, as a teacher I can quickly scan the student work, and I could use this as an opportunity to check —

ORLANDO AYALA: So, why he can’t — he could raise the hand and say, hey, teacher, I need help.

ROB BAYUK: He could, he could, but some students often are shy or perhaps a little embarrassed. In this case technology is actually being used to create a more inclusive environment in the cloud.

ORLANDO AYALA: So, you as a teacher are getting immediate feedback —

ROB BAYUK: Exactly.

ORLANDO AYALA: — on how Josh is understanding the concepts and you don’t even need to really go on, or perhaps you go and tell him, listen, let me help you a little bit.

ROB BAYUK: Right. In this case Josh has actually done a great job of showing his work on the theorem, and I could promote this to the class and discuss the problem.

ORLANDO AYALA: All right. Well, this is great. Thank you, Rob. Really appreciate your help.

ROB BAYUK: Thank you, Orlando. (Applause.)

ORLANDO AYALA: All right. I hope — this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is really just showing some ideas, not so centered on technology but — I’m switching to Spanish. It’s how we concentrate on education.

Let me talk about the following. Everything is important, and Rob and I can go into the demonstration, but I would like to invite somebody to talk a little bit more as a guy from Brazil, a young man. He recently graduated from the foundation of the Bradesco School in Brazil, and he’s going to talk about it a little bit, because this I believe is what’s important is to directly hear from an actual person how this technology is reaching this frontier, this border for so many people. Please, welcome. (Applause.)

RÉGIS VINÍCIUS COLOMBO TERÊNCIO: The work and the foundation, Bradesco Foundation, I studied there since I was a little boy.

ORLANDO AYALA: Tell me a little bit more about yourself first.

RÉGIS VINÍCIUS COLOMBO TERÊNCIO: From the classmates?

ORLANDO AYALA: No, talk about your story, your own personal history.

RÉGIS VINÍCIUS COLOMBO TERÊNCIO: The Bradesco Foundation since I was a child, very little, I’ve finished the middle school, and I didn’t know what I had to do. Since I had the option to go into information technology, I went in, and I went to the academic center in Campenas. And I remember that sentence: God does not choose those that are enabled, but enable those that are really chosen.

I had no ability whatsoever to do what I had to do, to work, or I had to work, but Microsoft and the Bradesco Foundation believed in me and my potential, and without the ability but with the right attitude I was able to develop my aptitudes, my skills, to coordinate the other interns and develop the Classmate PC, that’s the one that’s being used throughout with the students, and to be able to talk to you here today.

This year I’m going to (Elana ?) to really better my English, believing in better perspectives for me, be it in Microsoft or wherever I go, I want to be the best.

ORLANDO AYALA: Okay, why don’t you show your technology?

RÉGIS VINÍCIUS COLOMBO TERÊNCIO: Well, the students in the Bradesco Foundation were very used to paper, pen, and the traditional way of writing, but they use a lot of technologies. So, the Classmate software, when it arrived, it gave them a motivation. Because everybody had a Classmate, everybody had one. So, it’s very difficult for students who have responsibility on equipment. But they had the scratch to use where they can have dynamic animation about the lesson they’re having, and they’re using then the logical commands.

I brought here an animation for you to see from Victoria. She’s a 10-year old girl. She did this animation in jazz, in a jazz band. And here it is, what Victoria prepared, a 10-year old girl.

ORLANDO AYALA: But this seems like a little bit of a joke or just fun; what does it have to do with education?

RÉGIS VINÍCIUS COLOMBO TERÊNCIO: Just joking around, but I’m going to show you what Victoria — because behind this animation she developed a code for this to happen. And you have to see for each one of the little dolls here there is a different code to be shown. So, she develops this logical reasoning.

ORLANDO AYALA: Wonderful, wonderful, Regis. Thank you for being here. (Applause.)

I would like to take this mission and talk about this. This is exactly the kind of example that will really motivate to go ahead. I’ve always said this talent is there, it’s inborn in Latin Americans. I’ve seen it in so many cases. The question arises, how are we going to promote it? I believe the particular tragedy of a government, of a society in general, is to waste this kind of talent.

So, I’m going to close very briefly so we can go on to the panel.

Technology includes — tries to integrate society, and today people are more privileged to have better access to technology. But if we cannot — we make it only access, give access to the population without necessary training, it’s not the magic bullet. But as Regis and Rob have shown us, it’s not a technology in itself; it’s exactly something that children, schools, communities have to concentrate and focus on this is the starting point, it’s the right technology, the right moment, with the right price, with the right partners, to reach certain goals. And we have to break, make away, do away with all these limitation and barriers. Only this we can reach this overarching goal.

As we said already, it’s only the tip of the iceberg. We have many, many possibilities. It’s a huge challenge that we face, how can we jointly allow for the proper use of technology and services, not just the equipment, but all the tools we need to bridge all the difficulties, but so that we can optimize the use of technology and so that truly leads to human benefits that exceeds costs. Benefits need to outweigh costs. And if everybody participates, all the people who make together the public-private partnership, then we can benefit all the other millions of people in the world.

And finally, to close, I’m convinced that we’re living a very important moment in technology for a very basic reason, not just because of the huge advance in technology, but also how fast it’s being implement. I would say that for the first time it’s within our reach to have a true possibility to leave a wonderful legacy, community that’s connected globally, not only technologically, but socially and economically and we can leave this as a wonderful patrimony for generations to come: innovation, employment, education. I believe we’re positioned to help countries and states exceed all their needs and their expectations.

So, I appreciate your attention. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END

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