“Latin America is ready to move forward”

Feature Article | January 21, 2009 by Uta Spinger and Georg Middendorf

Mr. Cardenuto, you joined SAP as President for Latin America in July 2008. What are your business priorities for the region?

The priorities have to do with value delivery and flawless execution to provide our customers with the tools they need to attack their pain points during these uncertain times. Latin American countries have gone through many crises over their history and they are better prepared to face these challenges than they were in the past.

SAP is committed to providing its customers and prospects in the region with solutions that can quickly improve their businesses. For example, we are providing in most Latin American countries packaged key offerings through the initiative Best Run Now, to help them during this difficult time with quick implementations and attractive financing options in licenses and maintenances fees.

Latin America is a large and often heterogeneous market. How do you address it?

We have a talented, experienced and multicultural team. There are different local peculiarities of culture and, therefore, business culture. But SAP Latin America is a diverse team, with more than 1,700 employees of all nationalities across the region who understand perfectly the singularities of each of the markets of the region.

Rodolpho Cardenuto, CEO of SAP Latin America

What are the growth markets in Latin America?

Brazil is a growth country. It represents about 40% of our business in Latin America. With more than 180 million people, it also represents around 40% of the total population of Latin America. Only six years ago, 54% of the society was classified as poor. Now it is only 26%. So, about 50 million people have joined the middle class. And these are people that are consuming food, beverages, clothing, and cosmetics, thus fueling the economy and creating a new market.

Mexico is also growing very fast, and we are developing a growth path for the business. And countries like Argentina, Costa Rica and Panama are becoming service hubs.

Colombia is also growing very fast. We based our sales-support Telecoverage Center for Spanish-speaking Latin American countries there. Many countries in the region have excellent universities, so an amazing talent pool is available. But there are also smaller markets with great potential, such as Trinidad and Tobago.

Are there specific industries that are driving growth?

The petrochemical industry is expanding globally. Another big growth vertical is the public sector, ranging from 25 % market share to 60% according to the country. Telecom is also a big market, where a lot of European companies have investments. In addition, the manufacturing and packaged goods industry is a growing market, with many companies increasing their portfolios and expanding into new markets. Other industries that are very important for us in Latin America are banking, financial services and mining.

What challenges are Latin American companies facing?

The big challenge right now is how to deal successfully with these uncertain times. Beyond local objectives, companies in the region are very aware of the uncertainty in the global market and they are taking measures to weather the storm. As I mentioned, SAP is with them in their plight.

Besides, many companies seek to expand globally. And if you want to expand your business and possibly go through a merger or acquisition, you have to be compliant with the local regulatory environment. I recently talked to a very big mining company, which is acquiring five companies across the world in the next 12 months. Their objective is to completely integrate the company within 60 to 90 days into the new processes, with a new general ledger and financial reports. SAP can help them develop a template that can be rolled out to all companies, thus enabling a fast integration.

What IT trends are influencing the Latin American market?

Business Intelligence is definitely a major trend. Most companies have already implemented ERP solutions and now they are looking for business intelligence solutions – the whole package, not just governance, risk, and compliance. And business user is the new trend. In this regard, the Business Objects solutions are a very good addition to the SAP suite.

Customer Relationship Management is critical for companies from all industries, from the banking to the petrochemical industry, so that they can acquire information about customers and suppliers they need.

What are your goals for the next years?
The main goal is to continue providing our customers with the best tools to become best-run companies, be flexible when facing uncertain economic times and become competitive in a challenging global economy. Also, creating educational opportunities is very important for Latin America and for our business. We currently have about 25,000 consultants in the region, but the market will be requiring another 25,000 in the next few years.

That’s why we are focusing on talent development. For that, SAP is building alliances with universities in the major countries. One of our goals is to add new professionals to our ecosystem, upskill the existing members of it and to create jobs in Latin America.

Rodolpho Cardenuto joined SAP in July 2008 as President and CEO of SAP Latin America. Prior to joining SAP, Cardenuto worked for 17 years at Hewlett Packard, the last two as Director of Industry Sales and Alliances for Latin America and the Caribbean. During his career, Cardenuto has held other executive positions in the Brazilian Telco and IT industries.

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