Argentina recently celebrated an important milestone: The 200th Anniversary of the “May revolution” which set in motion the country’s first patriotic government, which preceded full independence by 1816. If you think about how IT technologies, globalization, and outsourcing were unimaginable concepts back then, we may consider ourselves as evolved human beings, but how evolved are we really?
In my view, Argentina has a lot to learn before people can consider themselves “evolved”. A good example is represented in the difference between the President of the country, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and the Buenos Aires city Mayor, Mauricio Macri.
Just look at the lack of alignment around the organization of two recent commemorations. One of them took place at the world famous Colon Theatre which was reopened after a long restoration project, and the other one in the main government house hosted by Cristina. Macri invited Cristina many times, but to no avail. On the other hand, Macri finally attended the celebration in the Pink Government House which Cristina organized.
These political differences and squabbles are not minor issues nor do they contribute to creating a framework for attracting global services investment into Argentina. These differences have a variety of implications and provide a snapshot into why Argentina is not seen as a regional leader in outsourced services.
Let’s face it, senior leaders in the Argentina Government play a passive role in attracting foreign investment. They are not really selling Argentina’s strong outsourcing, and to be fair, the rise of the outsourcing sector has largely been by “accident” due to low salaries and highly skilled professionals.
There are some notable global services investments that suggest a brighter future may be ahead, like one from IBM which recently launched a new facility located in Olivos (Olivos 3): http://www.lanacion.com.ar/nota.asp?nota_id=1261975 . The company is investing more than US$81 million with a very aggressive plan to boost salaries and provide more training and benefits for employees. These are some of the keys attractions that are aimed at securing a high-quality workforce. IBM chose Argentina as its forth leading country for exported services (after China, Brazil, and India) mainly based on quality of services and low costs.
Let’s face it, senior leaders in the Argentina Government play a passive role in attracting foreign investment. They are not really selling Argentina’s strong outsourcing, and to be fair, the rise of the outsourcing sector has largely been by “accident” due to low salaries and highly skilled professionals. Instead of keeping our country open and welcoming, our government gets lost in squabbles with other countries, such as China and Brazil.
On the other hand, the attitude of city governments is often completely different as many play an active role trying to attract new investment.
Should Argentina Emulate Other Countries?
Taking a hard look at the positioning of Argentina, I believe it wise for the country to take a look at Brazil, India or China to see what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong. It may be prudent to increase CMMi certifications in our software industry or find ways to emulate the Brazilian customer care attitude.
In my opinion, this is only a part of the strategy. The other part should take into account the Argentinean inner side, identifying core strengths, know exactly where it performs well and provide the necessary ingredients to grow.
The government is the agency ideally situated to lead this effort. Senior officials should sincerely look at the assets of Argentina and commit to packaging that as part of a sustained promotional effort. Until that happens, Argentina’s global services growth will remain an accidental occurrence.
Armando Moretti is a Computer Science Engineer based Buenos Aires, Argentina