SHARING SERVICES

Colombia 2014 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to César A. Echeverri, Executive Director of ADA, on the business process outsourcing sector, innovation, and upcoming investments.

How would you describe your role in the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry?

Right now, we are in charge of the accountancy issues of over 4,000 educational institutions and centers within the Antioquia region. We carry out a fully comprehensive and integrated process whereby we provide specialists in economics, communications, and marketing, among other areas. However, we base our entire activity on new technologies. In the beginning, the company used to sell software, and then we started to install networks and offer services. We also have our software production center. We like to call ourselves a shared service center that provides fully integrated solutions to businesses by generating value-added for companies by contributing to the efficiency of the processes. For example, in Antioquia there are 125 municipalities; however, there are many remote places that lack access to locally managed funds and resources. We provide a unique technological platform for over 4,000 educational centers by grouping them together under 480 educational funds, and we provide the required platform for these centers to better administrate and control their activity and development. If each of these centers were to do such activity independently, the costs would sky rocket. We make it possible by simplifying these processes and enabling the region of Antioquia to have better access and more secure data on the economic performance of these centers, among other things.

What are the different services you provide to the public and private sector?

From our early stages of developing the company, we started providing software solutions and packages to government authorities and institutions. Since then, we have understood the possibilities of that market niche, considering that most of the players have traditionally focused on the private sector. In this context, we understand that we can easily become a strong player if we focus more resources and efforts on providing services to the public sector.

“Innovation for us is to see what others do not see and to do things in a different way."

What do you think is the potential for BPO in Colombia?

I think it hides a unique and very interesting potential, especially in regard to the public sector, which in the last few years has come to enjoy the benefits of such practice when high levels of technology are applied. However, I would say that the currently active players in the market lack the know-how of the needs within the public sector, but we, luckily, have developed such abilities thanks to our long-standing business activity in this field.

ADA has been publicly recognized as one of the leading companies in the Colombian IT sector by the Ministry of Trade, Commerce, and Tourism. How have you managed to achieve such a position in the market?

This has been possible thanks to continuous efforts from our commercial and engineering teams. Such recognition just proves the current trends within the company; we have grown and over the last few years we have expanded our activity thanks to new market niches and commercial partnerships with international counterparts.

ADA is in a partnership with TOTVS, which recently signed an agreement with IBM to consolidate its sales in emerging markets. What is the importance of the Colombian market for these companies?

Colombia has shown one of the strongest growth rates in the entire Latin American region. Additionally, Colombia has signed many free trade agreements (FTAs) with the main economic markets worldwide. Also, our country enjoys higher levels of institutionalization than other regional countries; we have one of the largest populations in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico, and our middle class is rapidly developing.

What are the main investments lined up for the near future?

We have an ongoing project in Antioquia, the Manantiales Technological Park. We bought a couple of slots of 6,000 sqm alongside Quipux, a company specializing in intelligent mobility systems, to open offices and establish a data center in the park; that would enable us to expand our premises with an eight- to 10-story building. Also, we aim to continue supporting e-processes related to the financial field in the region of Antioquia with many of its main municipalities.

What is the significance of innovation for ADA?

Innovation for us is to see what others do not see and to do things in a different way, more efficiently, securely, and with greater value-added. It is all about thinking outside the box to stand out and help our clients to achieve more with less. For us, it is very important to integrate all the tools and elements technology offers and integrate processes, and to be very critical with our work and performance, since that will enable us to grow and improve our services. These items, along with perseverance, are what can push our company to the next level when it comes to competition and help us differentiate our offering from our competitors.

© The Business Year - February 2014