Nearshore Americas

Iron Mountain Expands Presence in Colombia with Major Acquisition

American enterprise information management company Iron Mountain has acquired Colombian BPO unit Suppla in an acquisition which sees them hugely expand their presence in the South American nation.

The storage and information management giant has now expanded its presence to eight facilities in the major Colombian cities of Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Barranquilla. The company – which has operated in Colombia since 2013 – is hoping the expansion will allow them to focus on document storage for major players in Colombia’s financial services industry due to Suppla’s previous portfolio, which Iron Mountain will now control.

BPO solutions in Suppla include records management and data governance offerings for regulated industries including healthcare and social services, financial services, government, education, communications and information technology sectors.

“Suppla has a very interesting customer portfolio in the financial system – they have the largest bank and the largest insurance company,” Francisco Pardo, Iron Mountain’s country manager in Colombia, says.

“That will compliment our portfolio. Having all of that – banks insurance companies, medical systems companies – they give us a nice customer portfolio we will grow in the future.”

Global business Iron Mountain is dedicated to storing, protecting and managing information and assets, ranging from business information and geological samples to works of fine art and recordings of treasured artists.

The acquisition of Suppla will see the company expand its workforce from 1,500 employees to nearly 2,000 and go from US$27.5 million revenue per year to around US$38 million.

“With this acquisition we’re reaffirming our commitment to providing customers across the globe with leading solutions for storing, protecting and managing their information and assets,” says Ernest Cloutier, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Iron Mountain International.

“This transaction is part of our strategy to scale our presence in Latin America where we have significant growth opportunities for our information management business.”

Pardo explained to Nearshore Americas that Colombia is a good country to work in because, unlike the US, Colombia is still very much focused on paper documentation.

While the US is moving towards a more digitalized system of managing records, Colombia – like many other Latin American countries – lags behind. This is partly due to the country’s legal system.

“We think there is potential to grow in this market in Colombia,” says Pardo.

“The document management market in Colombia is regulated. Companies need to follow specific requirements and banks need to keep information for a long time. So paper will continue and be kept for a long time.”

“I would say in the Latin America region it’s more of the same – we don’t see disruption as we do in the U.S., which is investing in digital. I would say Latin America is some steps behind

“In the US we are migrating our business to storage in the cloud. Investing in that tech in these countries it is expensive and there is a bigger market in the U.S. too. The law in this country makes it difficult as well because here in Colombia the physical evidence is the paper. Our legal system is not so developed.

“For example in most cases when banks need to execute legal action against a debtor they need to prove everything with paper.”

But Pardo did add that Colombian clients were also exploring the idea of using digital services, albeit with slower implementation than U.S. companies.

Pardo adds that the move into the Suppla’s units should be smooth – as the Iron Mountain already had a presence in the cities where Suppla was based.

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“This is also a perfect fit for us,” he says.

“The idea is to bring all the boxes and documents Suppla is managing to our facilities. The most boxes we put in our warehouses reduces our costs. That is why it is good to consolidate and find facilities in this business.”

Automation is set to be a big part of the expansion, too, Pardo tells Nearshore Americas, with the idea to implement Robotic Process Automation (RPAs) – machines which will capturing huge volumes of information.

With the BPO acquisition, Iron Mountain will run three shifts for its employees.

Levels of turnover are around 10 percent, says Pardo, with many employees coming to the company to process specific projects. In Colombia fixed term contracts will be used to use employees for the specific projects.

Mathew Di Salvo

Mathew Di Salvo is a Colombia-based contributing writer and editor at Nearshore Americas.

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