As a rapidly growing tech company with offices based Uruguay and the U.S., it recently became clear that we needed to expand our operations. Due to our strong client base in North America, it was essential that we choose a location close to both the U.S. and Uruguay. During this search, one of our top priorities was culture alignment, so we needed a locale that would enable us to merge our values, technology, and agile expertise.
Colombia, and specifically the city of Medellin, had been on our radar since we first heard about the growing IT industry at an agile conference in 2014. Our team decided to visit and the parallels between Medellin and our home city, Montevideo, were immediately apparent: great business environment, strong tech talent base, and stunning natural landscapes.For many, Colombia is world renowned for its coffee, but it is quickly becoming known for its strong IT outsourcing sector due to factors such as enhanced security, attractive business environment, highly-skilled tech labor force, controlled inflation, and accessible international flight connectivity. Those who are new to IT outsourcing or are in the midst of looking for an additional outsourcing site should strongly consider Colombia for the following five reasons.
1. Favorable business environment
With a population of 47 million, Colombia is the third largest population in Latin America and the third largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. Strong tax incentives and professional training programs have created a strong IT service sector.
A.T. Kearney included Colombia in its 2016 Top 20 Global Location Services Index, a study that tracks the offshoring landscape. Colombia jumped an impressive 23 spots in the ranking, the largest advance of any country in the 2016 study due to solid gains in IT/BPO experience and country infrastructure. Furthermore, Medellin ranked 17th in Tholons Top 100 in 2014 for service providers in BPO and ITO.
2. Real time collaboration
Colombia is located between five different time zones, allowing ease of flights to important business centers as Toronto, New York, Miami, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and others. A close time zone improves communication and collaboration as response times are reduced between teams; a quick chat via Skype or Slack is easy to arrange. As a company utilizing agile, we find that Medellin’s CST time zone works well for daily scrum meetings and weekly planning.
3. Tech pool
Colombia graduates more than 150,000 annually in technical and professional careers. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education in Colombia notes that between the years of 2001 and 2010 there were over 100,000 Computer Science graduates, making it number 4 on the list of careers with the highest number of graduates in the whole country. Specifically in Medellin there is a young and fast growing tech talent pool as two of the top local universities offer a degree in Computer Science (a rarity in Latin America higher education) not to mention the over 40 education centers offering IT careers and training.
The ability for developers to be bilingual is important for our company as well, and we have been pleased with the level of English fluency and ease in which they work with our teams in Uruguay and the U.S.
4. Innovation mindset
Bogota may be Colombia’s largest city, but Medellin is the only city in the country focused on IT services and knowledge process outsourcing (KPO). The hub of the innovation sector is Ruta N, which has become the city’s leader for innovation. A 2015 report from IEEE Smart Cities notes that five of the 15 largest companies in Colombia are located there, with an operating income of US$20.8 billion, including multinational companies.
A young talent pool also adds to this innovative mindset; Medellin has 80 higher education institutions and has produced 13% of all graduates in Colombia in the last ten years.
This was a top concern when speaking with partners and prospective clients about outsourcing to Medellin. However, visiting Medellin makes those concerns seem unfounded. Over the past 20 years, the city has undergone a remarkable transformation thanks to bold civic leadership, long-term city planning and private sector innovation.
Recently, the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize 2016 was awarded to Medellin as recognition to such positive transformation. Known as the City of Eternal Spring due to its mild weather, Medellin is an attractive place to attract new hires to and retain local talent.
Since we began operations in Medellin, we have been able to confirm these advantages first-hand. Time zone alignment and geographic proximity have allowed us to work simultaneously with our teams in Uruguay and our clients in the U.S. Furthermore, new members of our team are proof of the great amount of talented and successful developers based in Medellin. The case for Colombia is strong as many early partners, employers and investors in the knowledge/outsourcing industry have found, and we have a feeling this is just the beginning.
Marcelo Lopez will be featured as a guest speaker in an upcoming Nearshore Americas webinar about Medellin’s potential as a software product development hub. The webinar, entitled Product Development and Medellin, Colombia: A Perfect Match for the Perfect Storm in High-End Software is scheduled for October 25th at 14:00 EST. Register today!