NRI 2023: Interview with Ricardo Alban, President of Brazilian National Confederation of Industry (CNI)

November 1, 2023

Each year, Portulans Institute collaborates with Knowledge Partners on the production of the Network Readiness Index. Knowledge Partners are public or private institutions that are passionate about the overall goal of using technology for the good of all. They actively engage with the use of technology to enhance competitiveness, to further development and to support an inclusive and sustainable growth agenda.

We are pleased to introduce the Brazilian National Confederation of Industry (CNI) as a Knowledge Partner for the 2023 Network Readiness Index. CNI is the main organization representing Brazilian industry. Its aim is to increase the competitiveness of Brazilian industry through policy and cross-sectoral dialogue.

Tell us about CNI, and its core values as the lead organization representing the Brazilian industry.

CNI has the mission to act as the representative body of the Brazilian industry, promoting public policies to foster entrepreneurship and industrial production. Currently, CNI represents 476,000 industries in the country. Our work is concentrated on seven main activities: dialog and articulation, mostly covering the representation of the industrial sector with the government; development and competitiveness; innovation, which is promoted to be in the center of the competition strategy of the industrial sector; setting industrial agendas, mostly covering the legislative, international, and judicial agendas; diagnoses and scenario planning, which forecasts and bring to our current strategies future trends; internationalization and global trade, fostering international connections and trade; and, finally, labor relations.

It is a broad agenda, which seeks to address the main challenges to make the local industry nationally and globally competitive. As part of our mission, innovation has been the core strategy in our efforts.

How is CNI facilitating the growth and competitiveness of the Brazilian industry through digital transformation?

We have bottom-up and top-down approaches. The bottom-up approach is about our relations with the associations and organizations representing industry at state and sectoral levels, the source of information we gather to diagnose the main challenges, from which we derive the strategies we must seek in order to make our economy a more business-friendly environment, which includes facilitating growth and competitiveness.

These diagnoses and strategies are then applied in transformational programs and offered to the industry as a tool to bridge a certain identified gap. For sure, the most prominent gap in our agenda today is digital transformation. In Brazil, we face the challenge of promoting digitalization in the economy, and the industrial sector has a huge opportunity in this sense. For instance, small and medium-sized industries are the less digitalized in the country, and we have been acting to change this reality in recent years. In order to do that, we mobilize business leaders, government officials, academia, and every relevant stakeholder from the local and global innovation ecosystems, leveraging competencies and mobilizing resources into transformation programs available for the firms.

CNI has played a leading role in building consensus on key national issues, especially concerning those matters that have strong influence on the development of Brazilian industry and digital economy. This year’s NRI theme focuses on one of those key issues: trust towards technology. How does Brazil fare on this front?

Building consensus is our real challenge. Everyone in the country has the same diagnosis over the issues faced by society, but building consensus over the best strategy and resource allocation to overcome these issues is not that simple. We deal with a very complex network of stakeholders, which usually covers those organizations compounding our innovation ecosystems.

Brazil’s public and private sectors have been partnering with the goal of promoting a more digitized economy and society. Brazilian society is known for its openness when adhering to new technologies; the country is considered one of the brighter environments for the early adoption of innovations. Despite that, promoting the digital economy, and the trust towards technology is a challenge. CNI applies national-wide surveys on themes impacting our industry and economy. In one of our surveys from 2023, we identified the availability of resources as the main gap to promote digital transformation in small and medium-sized firms. The second factor negatively impacting the adoption of digital technologies is the availability of human resources, followed by the competencies to promote the transformation.

I would say that trust in technology would not be a key issue in Brazil. As I mentioned, our society is open to adopting innovations. Our work, influence, and partnership with public and other private bodies seek to overcome the difficulties still impeding our economy to be more digitized.

Can you tell us a bit about the significance of joining the Network Readiness Index as a Knowledge Partner? What do you hope to achieve through this partnership?

The NRI indicators are crucial in our activities, in the sense they provide us with a valuable source of information, a key component of the diagnosis leading our strategies and action. Beyond being a regular partner, joining the NRI as a Knowledge Partner will improve and increase our engagement with the NRI stakeholders. We will definitely have the opportunity to count on the cooperation of a global network of partners while seeking to contribute to future agendas.

The 2023 edition of the Network Readiness Index, dedicated to the theme of trust in technology and the network society, will launch on November 20th with a hybrid event at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Register and learn more using this link

For more information about the Network Readiness Index, visit

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