NEARSHORE NEXUS: Process, perception, and promotion are what region must address, says Capgemini’s Steve Rudderham
Latin America needs to “keep increasing its process skills,” do more to promote its technology capabilities, and let the rest of the world know it’s not a deadly danger zone. That was the prescription issued today at the Nearshore Nexus conference by keynote speaker Steve Rudderham, Capgemini’s VP of client engagement in the Americas.
One of the things the India juggernaut has going for it is its reputation for process. “India has a passion for IT process. It’s in their DNA,” Rudderham told the packed room of IT executives. He estimated that Latin America is four or five years behind India in that respect. But, he said, “I think the region can close that gap in the next few years. The learning curve can be very quick.”
Clients of Nearshore providers can help accelerate this process expertise by “getting their resources on-site to help with training,” Rudderham said. Providers and buyers both need to “invest back in the country for the IT services industry to become sustainable. Invest not just in the towns but out in the country.” This means not just investing in technical training but in things like secondary education.
The other key players are national governments and the country trade and investment associations. They need to get the word out to the rest of the world. “These associations need to do a better job of collaborating between the different countries,” Rudderham said. “They need to collaborate with prospective clients. And governments need to put money into education and raising up a higher-level workforce. One good example: Nicaragua requiring students to be proficient in English in order to graduate.
Rudderham mentioned the trade-promotion groups in Colombia and Guatemala as doing “tremendous work” in publicizing the services and talent they can provide.
These associations also “need to get people down to the nearshore community,” he said. “There’s no substitute for getting people on site. I encourage people to go visit. Talk to the people who would be doing the work for you. You’ll have a very different prospective.”
And that brings up the other big thing that is limiting Latin America’s growth as an IT provider or outsourcing partner: Perception that the region is not safe.
“Perception is going to remain a huge problem” until interested parties get the word out there, Rudderham warned. “We’ve got to communicate the real stiutaiton. Governments need to do a better job of communicating to people within the US, and through the US media. When people do the research, they find that yes, kidnappings are down, or whatever statistic. But we have to get the mass media to help get people comfortable with going there.”
Rudderham, who travels extensively in Latin America, said that he has taken people to Guatemala and seen them be surprised the plane landed at an actual airport, with a terminal and all the other aviation amenities.
“My mother gets very concerned when I tell her I’m going to Latin America,” he said. ‘You’re going to Bogota? Do you have an armored car ready?'”[For an in-depth look at security perceptions, see the new report from Nearshore Americas.]
But the Nearshore’s biggest concern, Rudderham said, is “making sure the region is ready to take on more value-added work. The biggest mistake we can make is to advertise it [capacities and capabilities], and the clients come and we’re not ready.”