Tiago Gavinhos is Portuguese, lives and works in Brazil and can be seen at tech conferences in the US.
He knows tech — on a global scale. How does he view the state of technology companies in his current area?
“There's definitely a tech boom in Brazil, and in several different areas,” said Gavinhos, the CEO of Vilt, a Sao Paolo, Brazil-based global IT company focusing in Enterprise Content Management (ECM). “Brazil has already 110 million people connected to the internet and growing. I'd say that there's a boom in tech in general in Brazil, with particular focus on digital transformation. CIOs are realizing that they need different business models to succeed in this hyper-connected market.”
Numbers Favor Growth
Gavinhos is not the only one excited about tech in Latin America.
IMS Internet Media Services (IMS), a Miami- and Latin America-based digital marketing and communications company, reported “Latino Silicon Valleys are popping up all around the region.”
Latin America shows an “exceptional proclivity” to digital media, according to IMS officials. Its study revealed that the new Latin American consumer is “hyper-connected, dominates technology and is highly influenced by social media.”
Some other IMS report figures:
- More than nine in 10 online Latin Americans own or use a mobile device on a regular basis
- Smartphone users in Latin America have downloaded an average of 18 apps on their devices
- More than 60 percent of the mobile users of each specific apps such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Spotify and Waze consider they are important in day-to-day life
- Latin America has 95 percent social media penetration
- The online audience in Latin America is young, with more than half of the audience under the age of 35
- The Latin American consumer seeks a more direct relationship with brands through apps
Digital Content Surge
IMS has reason to boast about Latin American growth. It exclusively sells advertising to Latin American brands through its network of Silicon Valley partners.
But it's not alone in believing a tech boom is going on.
"We’re seeing the biggest growth opportunities in Latin America among clients with digital content and service offerings," said Jeffrey Sharlach, chairman and CEO of New York City public relations firm JeffreyGroup, which works in all countries of Latin America with wholly owned offices in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.
“We currently work with Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook, Spotify on their marketing and communications in the region,” Sharlach told CMSWire, “and, without exception, all of them are finding not only receptive audiences, but pent up demand among consumers as these businesses expand in the region.”
Sharlach said his firm’s client base is skewed more heavily toward multinational companies and brands. As they continue to expand in Latin America, he said it may lead to challenges for the smaller local tech companies to compete in terms of scale and services.
Sharlach did question the IMS 95 percent social media penetration statistic, adding, “in our research we see that level among the highest socio-economic classes — who of course are very attractive consumers for most companies to target — but overall, given the poverty and illiteracy challenges in many countries of Latin America, we would say the actual overall percentage of social media users is much less than that.”
Some countries in Latin America are not booming quite yet, according to Daniel Heise, co-founder of Sao Paolo, Brazil-based Scup. The social media listening company was acquired by New York City-based Sprinklr last month.
“The region is showing strong growth across the digital sector,” Heise said of Latin America. “Countries like Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru have been advancing their economic agendas and becoming very good markets for business. Other countries like Venezuela and Argentina are still facing challenges in terms of attracting foreign investment. Overall, the region has a young population with enormous potential, and social media is definitely a factor shaping new consumer habits, which provides great opportunity for brands.”
Heise said Scup has 700 clients, 65 employees and serves 50 percent of the social listening market in South America.
Boom for All?
Looking at Latin America as a whole in terms of a tech boom is a “very difficult proposition,” Heise said.
“You have Brazil, a very large country that represents almost 50 percent of the region in terms of economic output or consumer market, with a distinct language —Portuguese — and culture,” he said. “And then you have Spanish-speaking countries that might share the language, but have very distinct cultural and economic differences.”
Companies that know who to work with locally do it right, he said, adding, “any attempt at a ‘one size fits all’ solution will not serve the needs of enterprise brands or their customers.”
Heise sees Latin America as usually being about two to three years behind the US in tech growth.
“For social media,” he said, “the lag might be slightly less on the consumer side, but marketers are still just beginning to get their hands around it.”
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