Nearshore Americas

Clients Want Analytics and Latin America Outsourcers Are Starting to Respond

Latin America’s growing middle class, with its reliance on social media and mobile technologies, is a treasure trove of data for outsourcers looking to market new products and services. Many outsourcers active in the region also have access to the growing Latino community in the United States, a demographic that remains off the radar for a lot of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs).

“The US Hispanic population and Latin America combined represent a huge opportunity,” says David Norton, EVP, Analytics & Consumer Insights at MDC Partners, a parent company to dozens of design and advertising agencies. “There is a lot of talk about Asia and Europe, but people who engage with Latin America will have significant first mover advantage.”

Norton’s role is to optimize MDC’s analytics resources to help drive profitability among MDC’s businesses, and to their clients. Previous to MDC, Norton spent 13 years at Harrah’s & Caesars Entertainment, where he oversaw CRM and customer insights.

“I am a big believer in multicultural marketing,” he says. “This includes linguistic and cultural relevance for Hispanic and niche ethnicities to make the experience as personalized as possible.  This is hugely relevant to the United States, where there is a significant Hispanic population.”

And within Latin America itself, with a population of 580 million, the opportunity to drive business intelligence that informs marketing campaigns is immense. Outsourcers can accomplish this with in-house capabilities or via purchases from independent software vendors. One vendor example is Tableau Software, which has a major commitment to Latin America aided by integration with SAP HANA and Google BigQuery, a fully managed cloud-based service.

A Big Region Generates Big Data

Miguel Nhuch, Vice-President for Latin America for Tableau, has characterized his company’s software solution as “a new generation of business intelligence,” because it requires no programming and limited integration, allowing for enterprise- and device-wide access to data. This means that analytics can be driven directly from outsourcing engagements to inform marketing campaigns – something that Norton believes is best accomplished with a quantitative approach.

“To get the right data out of a business unit you want to find the opportunities and get measurable results,” says Norton. “You need to get a team together to measure and then drive your story; the best way is to conduct a pilot with straightforward metrics.”

Often, global outsourcing providers active in Latin America will have their own analytics platforms. This can generate value and differentiate them from the competition; however, the business analytics field is not young, and there are many software vendors whose products can be used in-house or by shared services organizations that don’t want to build their own.

“We are fairly agnostic, and don’t build our own analytics software,” says Norton from MDC. “When I was at Harrah’s & Caesars Entertainment we relied on Cognos (IBM), SAS, and Teradata.”

Access to cloud services analytics is becoming more powerful, more available, and less expensive. Tableau, for example, offers responses in a matter of seconds to users at all levels of an organization, and from any device. For smaller outsourcers in Latin America this levels the playing field with bigger providers who have invested in heavy business intelligence platforms – and in the IT staff to run them.

“The combination of analytics software and outsourcer customer engagement provides an opportunity for a wealth of information,” says Norton. “You can reduce customer attrition, and gain insight into what they think about a product or brand. An email can be triggered from a phone call that might have a positive or negative outcome, and there can be a personalized follow-up by phone from an online chat engagement.”

But Norton acknowledges that outsourcers in Latin America have a lot of work to do, and this is complicated by a lack of sophistication on the client side. The challenge is best met by a progressive relationship with a client’s CMO – yet many organizations in Latin America, even larger ones, do not have such a C-suite position.

Information is Everywhere

Executives like Nhuch from Tableau hope to change this landscape. Nhuch is a Brazilian who speaks seven languages fluently, and he has been spearheading Tableau’s expansion efforts throughout Latin America since he joined the company two years ago. Tableau has both a Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese version of its software, and has partnered with fifteen services companies in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, and Mexico. Of these partnerships, eight are in the two biggest markets, Brazil and Mexico.

There has been other buzz, too. When Next Web’s Latin America conference drew to a close at the end of last year, the startup experts on the jury picked Big Data analytic solution provider Senseta as the winner, even though it was a ‘wild card’ finalist. Senseta, which is based in Bogota, Colombia, has made a name for itself by mining a range of data sources and driving analytics. However, it is important to note that for companies like MDC the demand for analytics in Latin America is not being pushed by the software community – instead it is reflected in client demand.

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“CP+B, which is one of our partner agencies, opened an office in Brazil a few months ago,” says Norton.  “And that engagement is client-driven.”

This follows on the news two years ago that MDC was expanding its operations in Brazil by partnering with a local creative agency, Peralta, which served as the platform for CP+B’s entry. This is part and parcel of the emerging engagement economy in Latin America, with outsourcers at the center of the information hub.

“We should end up seeing more relevant, seamless experiences across channels, including Latin America,” says Norton. “Companies are starting to figure this out, because their customers have been getting frustrated – often they have been doing business with an organization for years, and still are treated like complete unknowns.”

As research firm IDC has observed, the Latin America business intelligence and analytic applications market is “one of the most dynamic ecosystems of tools and applications that help organizations in crucial decision-making processes.” To make those decisions, they have to go to where the data is – and often that means tilling the rich fields of outsourcing engagements.

Tim Wilson

Tim has been a contributing analyst to Nearshore Americas since 2012. He is a former Research Analyst with IDC in Toronto and has over 20 years’ experience as a technology and business journalist, including extensive reporting from Latin America. A graduate of McGill University in Montreal, he has received numerous accolades for his writing, including a CBC Literary and a National Magazine award. He divides his time between Canada and Mexico. When not chasing down stories, he is busy writing the Detective Sánchez series of crime novels.

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