The Demographics of Latin America

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In the book “The Rise and Fall of Nations” by Ruchir Sharma from Morgan Stanley, the author presents 10 factors that are critical for a country economic success. His first chapter is on population since demographics plays such a critical role in a nation’s wealth creation.
Countries with a growing talent of workers like India tend to experience much faster growth that countries that their population are shrinking like Japan and Italy. Note also that there is a lag between the change in GDP and population growth since it takes time for a new borne to reach working age.
“Our World in Data” organization provides a wealth of information on Demography. The world population growth peaked in the early 60’s at 2.2% and has dropped to 1.12 in 2015 dropped (even though Sub-Sahara Africa its growing above 3%). The top three economies in Latin America—Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, are growing at a rate of 0.83%, 1.32% and 1% respectively. The current largest economies have a significant lower growth rates: Italy -0.13%, Germany, 0.26%. China, 0.48% and the USA 0.7%. India, does continue a fast growth at 1.16%.

Overall, Latin America has been, after Africa, the region with fastest population growth, and has reached a population of 600 M people. And with a per capita consumer expenditure of $6,600 makes its consumer market today equal to China and 3.2 times India’s.
What would be results of the favorable demographic trends in Latin America? Two are most important:
1.    Brazil and Mexico, the 8th and 16th largest economy in the world today, would become the 5th and 6th by year 2050, ahead of countries like Germany, Japan and the UK.
2.    An economic boost for the next 25 years as its share of people at working age (15-60) increases.

Let’s finalize this blog with Sharma’s book first chapter title: Population Matters

Is the world flat?

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Anyone interested on how the barriers of commerce are disappearing has read “The World is Flat” by Mr. Freidman ( Some of the concepts presented in this book released in 2005, like the 10 forces that flattened the world (open-sourcing, outsourcing, digital, mobile, etc.) are familiar subjects to executives in the IT industry.
Meet Mr. Pankaj Ghemawat (, who authored the recent Harvard Business Review cover article “Globalization in the Age of Trump”.  Mr. Ghemawat states that people overestimate the intensity of the global business, and that cultural, administrative/political, geographic and economic factors represent major globalization hurdles.
To highlight his thesis, Mr. Ghemawat has come up with a “Globaloney Gap” that shows the difference between actual data and what people believe for some globalization metrics. For example, Foreign Direct Investment, as a % of Gross Fixed Capital Formation, is less than 10% while people think is closer to 40%; and net actual Exports as a % of GDP, is 20% while people surveyed says it’s around 40%. (Net Exports data does not double count commerce between intermediaries’ countries).

Flat World or just Globaloney? Our take is that these two positions are not in contradiction as they initially appeared to be. Mr. Friedman, as a journalist, highlights some interesting trends and shapes a vision of a flat world. And, Mr. Ghemawat, an economist, presents how despite all the conversation on this topic, globalization and its potential benefits have a long way to go. Also, Mr. Friedman’s view is closer to reality for very large firms. The large number of small and medium-size business (SME), which represent an important percentage of a country’s GDP but have a lesser international presence, help drive the globalization metrics presented by Mr. Ghemawat down.
On this last topic, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has studied the SME and their internationalization process. It has concluded that when trying to expand abroad, SMEs face critical constraints like identification of business opportunities, getting information on local markets, establishing business contacts, and acquiring managerial time, skills and knowledge.

LinkIT LATAM supports our clients overcoming the constraints factors identified by the OECD, making their international venture profitable and less challenging. And in the process, we contribute to make the world a bit flatter!

July 2017

Implementing a Global Strategy

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Enterprise IT vendors goal is to operate in the WW stage. Besides the financial rewards, other market realities drive this goal: information about technology vendors could be accessed from any corner of the world; large banks, telecoms, retails, airlines, etc., are found in all regions of the world; innovating companies with sophisticated customer engagement processes are doing business in all major metropolitan areas; and the skipping of technology waves in less advanced economies that allows then to catch-up faster to new technology models. Many times, these market facts run ahead to the vendor’s implementation plans.

Although, there are exceptions for some specific solutions due to factors such as cloud infrastructure and very larger deployment size, in most cases, after initial validation in markets like the US or Europe, most information technology vendors have a solution ready for a world-wide roll-out.

IT vendors’ strategic intent to go global is slowed-down by the efforts needed to operationalize their business model in a new region, which results in a “linear” implementation of a commercial strategy, that in the case of US-based firms, is to address the local market and Canada, then expand into Europe plus major markets in Middle East and Africa first, then ASIA, and finally Latin America. This linear, slower commercial approach reflects the real complexity and risk associated with entering a new regional market, but leaves the door open for a competitor to establish itself first and build a market moat.

Is it possible to accelerate WW revenues adopting a more flexible, multi-regional, coextensive commercial implementation? Besides the not very effective trial and error, reactive approach, IT vendors have different ways to pro-actively answer this question:

  1. Develop a web-based B-B solution to gain new customers world-wide. This approach requires solutions that have been defined from the ground-up with this objective in mind in-order-to avoid the support of any direct sales and/or partners in the sales cycle. Atlassian, a provider of solutions for software developers, is a good example of this model.
    In Latin America, even  this “sales-free” approach, may require partners and business development resources to accelerate industry acceptance rates, transact in local currency, and provide services like installation, consulting, training, managed hosting, and first level support with local resources and in the country’s language.

  2. Rely on a business development/consulting company, with deep knowledge in the region, to ensure the optimal implementation of the IT vendor business model in the new market. The business development/consulting company execution will include doing the initial market validation, choosing and implement the route-to-market and selecting the right players, and developing the first customer references. Preferable, the relationship with this third party should be correlated to revenues to avoid any major financial exposure. At one point of this relationship, 12-24 months into the engagement, IT vendors will have gathered enough market intelligence and have a known business run rate to next level business decision on the region.

LinkIT LATAM’s support IT vendors regardless the approach they take; our value proposition fits both:

 “LinkIT LATAM provides Information Technology vendors with sound business decision making and flexible commercial capabilities to generate revenues faster with low cost and risk in Latin America.”


Software Development in LATAM

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Software, and the “apps” and platforms (cloud, mobility, IOT) it enables, is becoming a driving force in today’s economy. Companies depend on software to serve their customers better and gain competitive advantage; cities with intense focus on digital technologies---Austin, Boston, NYC, San Francisco, Seattle-- are becoming entrepreneurship magnets.
How is LATAM’s software development sector? The answer: Doing very well and growing rapidly. The growth is fueled by several trends that should continue fostering the software development marketplace for many years in the future:

  1. Open Source and Freemium offerings that lower adoption barriers
  2. Young population: 50% younger than 30 years
  3. Big adoption of new apps: Brazil and Mexico rank 2nd and 5th in WW Google Play downloads; Latin America makes up 20% and 38% of Facebook and What’sApp globally.
  4. Fast growth of mobile internet access with penetration going from 7% to 58% during the last 5 years
  5. Innovative companies delivering on the expectations of technology-savvy users
  6. Economic and social alignment to the US high-tech industry trends
  7. Lower software developer salary than one in a developed economy.

Obviously, software development is not new for companies in LATAM, but the trends described above, drive fast growth. And the challenge to meet these more complex business requirements are being fulfilled by a growing business ecosystem of software companies and developers:

  • Pioneers like Softek in Mexico and Stefanini in Brazil have become large multinational companies with software development practices
  • The region position itself as a software outsourcing development alternative to India, but with a better time-zone alignment
  • Cities like Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Medellin, are becoming important software development business cluster.
  • New high-tech start-ups are being created and VCs are investing:
    • Brazil and Mexico represents two of the three VC hotbed to watch based on the EY Global Venture Capital Insights and Trends (2014) report
    • The Latin America Venture Capital (LAVCA) 5-year Trend report (2016) presents that 82% of the $ 2B investment from VC investment in the last 5 years went to fund Information Technology companies

Overall an exciting time to be a software development professional in Latin America!   


How to Enter the Latin America Market?

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How to Enter the Latin America Market?

Latin America and The Caribbean is one of the most dynamics regions in the world having an economy of US$ 6 trillion, population of 620 million people, and an IT market estimated to be $300 Billion. The size of the Brazil’s and Mexico’s economies, the new insertion of Argentina in the world financial markets, and the growth experiencing by Chile, Colombia and Peru makes this region a very interesting one for IT vendors to participate in.
As described on our blog dated March 26th, the region brings a level of complexity that requires knowledge and experience in the various countries to be successful. In addition, the current economic slowdown has caused a recession in some countries like Brazil.
In the context of region’s opportunities and challenges, how an IT vendor should proceed to start selling in Latin America? LinkIT LATAM has written a white paper on this subject that you could download from Below you will find some key points of this document:
-    Do not equate a Latin America strategy to responding to customers’ or partners’ business requests
-    A no-go may be the correct strategy until certain key elements such as product validation, reference accounts, good analyst reports are in place
-    A beachhead strategy to reduce investment and risk, and to build credibility and know-how at HQ is a good approach to consider.
-    Brazil or Mexico are prime candidates for beachhead countries for some but not all IT vendors.
-    Be flexible as routes-to-markets will have different requirements and cost structures, and company best practices may need to be adjusted.
-    Develop business metrics to measure progress; do not limit the business metrics only to sales numbers.

Good selling!

Book Review: “Wining in Emerging Markets”

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In the book “Winning in Emerging Markets” (Harvard Business Press, 2010), the authors Tarun Khanna and Krishna Paletu, who have many years studying multinational companies entering new markets, present an interesting approach on how to be successful in emerging markets. This blog highlights some of the concepts discussed in the book:

-    “Institutional Voids” are markets conditions that support the profitability of business models in developed economies but are not found in emerging markets. These institutional voids appear in different areas: products (e.g. market research information, distribution networks, after- sale support); Labor (e.g. education infrastructure, training, talent availability); Capital (e.g. reliability of financial data, rating agencies); and Macro Context (private property rights, contract enforcement).
-    When faced with these institutional voids, multinational have various strategic choices to make: Replicate or adapt? Compete alone or collaborate? Accept or attempt to change the market context? And enter, wait or exit?
-    A multinational company may attempt to fill one of the institution voids and play a market intermediary role to achieve two goals: improve the business environment and develop a new revenue source.
-    Multinational companies naturally compete well in the top, more globalized segment of the market. As they go down market, local players have stronger market advantage
-    The book also addresses the response of the local companies, or “emerging giants”, and how compete in their home turf and abroad.
-    The authors provide practical analytical tools and examples for the various concepts presented in the book.

Overall, the book is a good read for managers selling abroad, especially for those with strategic, planning and advisory roles who require a solid framework to evaluate business opportunities in emerging country.


Is Doing Business in Latin America and the US Different?

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business in latin america



One of the question we most commonly answer to companies entering the Latin America is if doing business South of the border is that different. The answer, similar to other international markets, is: Yes, and No.
On the No side, doing business in Latin America is similar to the US since Latin America is comprised of democratic countries with market driven economies, the rule of law, comparable vertical markets, and technology adoption that--with a time lag—mirrors the US.
The Yes part of the answer is more complex since Latin America brings unique characteristics which go beyond the obvious ones like language, culture, economic development, and laws. Let’s go over a couple of data points that highlight this complexity:

  • There is no correlation between the profitability of an industry in the US and its counterpart in Latin America (exception of Chile). This indicates significant and different forces affecting the value chain (*). (Note: the US industry profitability correlates positively with Canada, Japan, South Korea and few countries in EMEA)
  • Five of the ten countries with most complex business governance in the world comes from Latin America (**)

The Taiwanese business leader Stan Shih, who made Acer a WW brand, understood this complexity very well, and leveraged the following mantra as he built his company oversees: Think Globally, Act Locally.  This is the “golden rule” for international business. It means that understanding the country value chain and customer buying patterns are necessary to enter a country without bringing major risk and cost to the operation. Some of this golden rule’s corollaries are:

  • Local knowledge is critical
  • Local means country, and sometimes even a country region
  • Validate best practices; they may not work well oversees.
  • Understand the market, then invest in.

In Latin America, this “golden rule” needs to be applied in nearly 30 countries with three different languages, and multiple business context. The Yes has the upper hand.

(*) White paper from Tarun Khann and Jan W. Rivkin
(**) TMF Group

The Pacific Alliance

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 The Pacific Alliance business

The Pacific Alliance (PA), Alianza del Pácifico in Spanish, is one of two major trade blocks in the Latin America (LATAM), and is comprised of Chile, Colombia, Peru and México.  

The GDP of the PA countries makes them the 8th largest economic power and a population of 216 M people. It represents LATAM’s 38% of GDP and 50% of trade. PA was founded in 2011 and its charter goals are: 

  • Work towards a free movement of goods, services, resources and people 
  • Promote economic and social development 
  • Become a political, economic and development platform, with emphasis on Asia/Pacific.

The group’s similar vision of development and trade have allowed them achieved solid steps on their regional integration during the alliance’s first years: 

  • Eliminated tariffs for 93% of goods trade 
  • Integrated their stock exchanges, now the largest stock exchange in LATAM 
  • Facilitated movement of persons 
  • Participated in joined promotion activities 
  • Shared embassies, like in Ghana.

The other trade group is the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) that gathers Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela. Mercosur was found in 1991 and its goals has been inward looking by focusing on developing a larger internal market. The PA and Mercosur block represents way over 90% of LATAM GPD. 

Despite the commodities and oil price drop, the PA countries’ prudent fiscal policies have allowed then to continue growing in 2106 to remain LATAM’s growth engines for the region. In the Mercosur, only Uruguay is expected to growth. Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela are expected to experience a year economic recession (back to back recession years for both Brazil and Venezuela). 

The growing importance of the PA block brings another element to consider when entering or expanding in LATAM. LinkIT LATAM monitors on an on-going basis the development of PA, as well as, the Mercosur, to advise our customers on the right business strategy to follow.


Seguridad, Productividad y Ahorro

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Gobierno de Información

Las organizaciones en general tienen un problema grave de volumen y confidencialidad de información. Ejecutivos y usuarios crean y comparten continuamente relevantes piezas de información a través de diferentes aplicaciones, canales, y dispositivos. Uno de los principales retos organizacionales hoy, es el de mantener un Gobierno de Información que defina principios, políticas y procesos para mantener la información reservada a los ojos de quienes en realidad la deben ver y sobre todo, auditar.

¿Sistemas, o Tecnología?.  Justamente NO!.  La cadena de custodia de la información debe ser claramente definida y acotada a aquellos que tienen exclusivamente la autorización de ver y revisar contenidos.

A pesar de aislar los contenidos del área de TI,  es necesario apoyarse en una pieza de tecnología que nos  permita contar con un sistema que ejecute un Gobierno de la Información previamente definido, riguroso y detallado. Una herramienta que permita encontrar, gestionar, y acceder la información ubicuamente sin importar en que canal ha sido generada o compartida. Una herramienta a la cual el área de sistemas tenga acceso restringido a contenidos. Una herramienta que modifique el rol de auditor de TI, a un vigilante de los procesos que conducen auditoria, legal, o recursos humanos evitando así exposición de información innecesaria y sobre todo sin control o trazabilidad.

De forma modular, y de acuerdo con políticas definidas en el Gobierno establecido, canales de comunicación como correo electrónico, redes sociales, mensajería instantánea, o mensajes de texto de los celulares sean recogidos de sus fuentes de origen garantizando la integridad de la información. Una vez centralizados, que sean de-duplicados, comprimidos, indexados, y cifrados para un almacenamiento óptimo y duradero de acuerdo con la política establecida, o la regulación existente.

Además de disminuir los riesgos de su organización (evitando la exposición de su reputación, o la perdida de información), una buena solución permite reducir el costo de propiedad de su correo electrónico. Para ello, diversos factores entran en consideración entre los cuales cabe destacar la productividad del usuario, el licenciamiento del correo, y sobre todo la infraestructura de almacenamiento y gestión que se requiere para operar el mismo.

A nivel de productividad el usuario ganará movilidad, acceso desde sus dispositivos portátiles, y herramientas de búsqueda electrónica. Adicionalmente no tendrá que preocuparse por crear, mantener, o transportar archivos PST lo cual repercute de manera sistémica a una mayor seguridad de su activo. Con respecto al impacto en su infraestructura, la solución le permitirá experimentar ahorros en almacenamiento de más de un 70% en volumen, y adicionalmente le da opciones de utilizar tecnologías de almacenamiento más económicas que las requeridas por el correo.

Propuestas de valor con alto contenido a nivel de beneficios se centran en ayudar a las organizaciones a crear, afinar, y ejecutar un Gobierno de Información para sus comunicaciones electrónicas y aplicaciones conexas, bajo el cual técnicamente se establece UN repositorio central de información optimizado para el almacenamiento de la información y el ejercicio de su Gobierno.

Este tipo de propuestas suponen ahorros en infraestructura y gestión de tecnología. Adicionalmente, mitiga riesgos asociados a la pérdida o acceso “invisible” a la información sensible de su organización.

Sobre Gobernabilidad de Información

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Durante mi última gira por América Latina tuve la oportunidad de conversar con un par de decenas de CIOs, y oficiales de seguridad de información de organizaciones representativas por tamaño en sus mercados. La mayoría de ellos en Petróleo, Gobierno, y Finanzas.

Nuestro objetivo de las visitas giró en torno de validar la recepción de la propuesta de valor que una solución como Retain trae a cualquier organización del tamaño de nuestros interlocutores.

No trata ésta estrada del Blog en promocionar la propuesta de valor de Retain. -Para eso están los catálogos y “White Papers”-. Se trata de manera más abierta de: 1- Compartir lo que escuchamos en el viaje, y 2- Exponer ciertas problemáticas comunes que se viven día a día en las organizaciones que aunque comprometen/afectan la información de la empresa no tienen la tracción adecuada en la estrategia y planeación para resguardar la información de forma coherente. y 3-, dejarles a los CIO y oficiales de seguridad un interrogante puntual.


Referente a lo que escuchamos y entendimos durante la visita:

  • No existe gobernabilidad de información en comunicaciones electrónicas. Todo es área gris. Directores no saben qué pasa con información tan sensitiva como su correo. (Quien tiene acceso, como/cuando lo obtiene, que trazabilidad deja para saber que leyó o hizo, etc).  Usuarios no tienen idea que puede o no hacer la empresa, y quien dentro de ella con su información.

  • Hablar de Gobernabilidad de información en comunicaciones electrónicas es muy amplio y pocos entienden de un modelo basado en principios, políticas y roles. El día a día, y temas tácticos consumen su día.
  • Una propuesta de Gobernabilidad de Información para que tenga recepción en la organización típica en LATAM debe estar precedida de múltiples incidentes en los cuales se comprometió información relevante de la empresa.
  • La normatividad aunque existente para algunos sectores simplemente no es prioridad.
  • Definitivamente el empleado es quien decide (y las herramientas técnicas usadas lo permite) sobre que se guarda y que no en la organización. Ya sea en la nube o en sus PSTs.


En lo que respecta a las problemáticas comunes en términos de seguridad y colaboración, la mayoría aquejan interrogantes alrededor de temas puntuales entre otros : -Aclarando que excluyo las típicas amenazas que pregonan las empresas Antivirus, una lección bien aprendida por todos-

  • Movilidad…. Extendida no a que le llegue el correo a su móvil, sino a que tenga acceso toda su información.
  • Trafico de PSTs y pérdidas de información, y herramientas DLP
  • Migración a la nube, y la forma como controlar su información una vez en ella.
  • Apertura de Redes sociales, aplicaciones de almacenamiento de archivos y su capacidad de compartirse fuera de la empresa.
  • BYO – Administración, soporte y control
  • Vinculación de herramientas de colaboración más avanzadas a sus estándares.

Ahora mi reflexión/propuesta: No sería interesante ver un hilo conductor en lo que se refiere estrategias y políticas que llevara a establecer un modelo de Gobernabilidad de información en cada organización el cual les ayudara a gestionar, y resguardar lo existente y que adicionalmente les facilitara la adopción de nuevas tecnologías?. Cual es impedimento?, No creo se trate de no guardar para no tener que buscar... pues ya la cadena de custodia de la información está comprometida. Entonces?

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