Colombia 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Francisco Reyes, President of SAP North Latin America, on Colombia's digital transformation process, cloud services, and new opportunities.

 Francisco Reyes
Francisco Reyes has more than 20 years of experience in the market of technological solutions and applications, working in leading companies in the industry. Reyes has been the head of SAP’s operations in North Latin America since 2014, and since 2012 he has held the position of President of SAP Colombia and Ecuador. Reyes holds a degree in electronic engineering and an MBA from Venezuela’s Simón Bolívar University.

What are the strategic opportunities for SAP in Colombia?

Our presence in Colombia is extremely important for different reasons. We have 2,000 clients in Colombia, with 7,000 clients in the north region in Central America, the Caribbean region, Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador. Therefore, we are playing an important role and as a main influencer. We have two main challenges; the first is to grow in our core business toward the digital transformation and the second, which is very important, is to maintain the power and capacity of deciding and influencing the actual market. We saw many opportunities in the cloud, which is 30% of our business. We have seen triple-digit growth in the past several years in this sector, so we are confident that this will continue.

How do you compare Colombia's digital transformation process to other countries in the region?

We are currently gaining a great deal of momentum; however, it is hard to measure the impact of the digital transformation. We have about four or five ways of measuring digital transformation, which include government policies, ease of doing business, human capital, technology, and market preparedness. We are at the top of the countries of Latin America and believe the digital economy will be around 6% of GDP, which is close to European countries and North America. Colombia has excellent infrastructure we can use. Institutions have started to understand they need to make some changes to facilitate companies to move forward in that direction, since companies need to be more competitive. Colombia especially is in a great position to understand and manage the technology.

How has the Colombian market embraced the types of services that you provide?

It has definitely been receptive. We did not invent the digital economy; that was something that happened five years ago but SAP realized that it needs to play a different role in the market and we invested close to USD50 billion not just developing new technology and a new digital core but buying new companies in the market to create something that we believe to be the best framework for developing the digital environment. This country is a little behind, economically speaking, but that means it is easier to accelerate the technology because we do not have the legacy that most of the largest corporations or most developed countries do. Companies can go straight to having the best technology right now, so for customers willing to start moving toward the digital world, it is much easier. We now see many trends, especially in small and medium companies, which truly need to be more competitive and can accelerate faster than any other companies. Approximately 50% of the GDP of the Colombian market is SMEs, and probably 80% of the employers work for SMEs so it is a huge market that we have there.

What is your outlook regarding cloud services in the local market?

We will continue to have triple-digit growth in cloud for 2017, and at least in the way we see the market, I would say that more than 90% of our install base is moving toward the cloud. There is another wave that we see regarding emerging trends. We just launched a new product called SAP Leonardo, which is what we see in more intelligent applications; therefore, those trends are still new in the market and we are just launching that in our markets. It comes with many disrupting technologies that will generate another wave of digital transformation. We can embed those disrupting technologies in our applications to determine how our technology can help companies understand the markets better and differently.