November 29, 2011

Latin America: a technology rising star

It is not a secret that the world economy, specially regions or countries that used to be the growth engine of the global economic development, are going through difficult times. Economic growth can be maintained at a certain level, but the only thing that remains constant in economy is change, and we cannot expect for growth to continue to come from the same sources, or doing the same things.

Dilma Rousseff, current President of Brazil, said that “at this moment, the emerging countries are fostering the economic growth of the worldwide economy”. And, when talking about technology, Latin American countries are truly reflecting this trend. As comScore reported in its 2010 Yearly Digital Review of Latin America, the web population in the region is rapidly growing – while the growth is flat in North America and Europe – as more people move from shared-access environment to home and work usage. The market intelligence developed by IDC also reflected at the beginning of 2011 that the Information Technology industry in Latin America would grow 6.3% (US $74 billion) driven by Smarthphones (70% growth), Services (9.1%), Software (8.2%) and Hardware (4.7%).

The “consumerization” phenomenon – end consumers adopting new technologies and digital behaviors, forcing organizations to adapt to the new reality – has also triggered the use of Social Media by companies in Latin America, to engage current and potential customers. According to comScore’s whitepaper, in June 2011, 114.5 million people in the region visited a social network site (and the audience is climbing 16% year over year). Group-buying sites have taken off in Latin America: only in Argentina, one of every five web users visited the coupon site of Groupon in February 2011.

Within this bright scenario, there is still an important challenge that technology companies are facing in Latin America: education. The use of technologies to make processes more efficient and cost effective is relatively new to organizations, governments and consumers. Translating the benefits that technology brings to the real life of people in a region that has been immersed in decades of crises, is a huge opportunity. The IT companies that have already turned their eyes to emerging countries, not only to Brazil, but to Chile, Colombia, Peru, etc., have started to see where the growth could come in the near future.

It is true: in a global economy everyone is connected and affected by variations and crises. But in a region that has recently started to have access to the benefits of information technologies, you can be sure that nothing will make that stop.