CONNECTING COUNTRY

Colombia 2018 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Iván Herrera, Vice President of Business Solutions and Government of Huawei Colombia, and Cao Wei, Country Manager of Consumer Business Group of Huawei Colombia, on their growth plans for the country.

 Iván Herrera Cao Wei

How have operations been for Huawei over the past two years?

IVÁN HERRERA For the last two years, we were focused on growing our market in the operative side. We have built teams in our company to start attending to the enterprise market. Within that, we started talking with governments, municipalities, and mayors to understand the needs from different sides. In the last two years, we have been changing our customers and our business perspective, and now we target not only the operators market, which is our strongest part, but also the real market.

CAO WEI For the smartphone business, 2017 was a great year for us. We saw over 30% growth compared to 2016, the highest growth Huawei has seen. And, according to my analysis, our revenue surpasses the average in this industry. Colombia is an important country for Huawei, particularly in Latin America. Based on investments, Colombia is the top priority on our list. Our units are about 20% in 2017 in terms of market share.

Is there a specific sector that you seek to enter in the next year?

IH There has been a great deal of investment in ICT from the financial sector in the past year, though we never dealt with that before. At the moment, we are ready to enter that market as we have more people and greater capabilities to bring solutions in that sector. We are also thinking about the Internet of Things (IoT), which deals with all the different markets. We have already worked in some of these markets such as agriculture.

What can you tell us about the expansion of Huawei stores in Colombia?

CW We will adjust our strategy with the new stores. We want to have impressive Huawei stores in Bogotá and plan to open new ones in 2017. In the meantime, we want to open more customer service stores in other cities. For us, service is the main differentiator for our company in the industry. We currently have several service stores in Bogotá and one in Barranquilla and plan to have more service stores in Cali and Medellín.

What sets apart Huawei from its competitors?

IH There are different business models. Our model is a traditional model, which means we sell the equipment, support, operation, and maintenance to our customers. The real difference that sets us apart from others is innovation. Our global revenue in 2015 was USD75 billion and 10% is dedicated to R&D. Moreover, 50% of the 190,000 people working globally at Huawei are in R&D; we dedicate massive resources to innovation. The latter, along with our 17 years in the country, are our strongest points.

CW We view ourselves as an iconic technology leader in the industry. We always want to bring the most advanced Huawei devices to our final users. This is the key to our final users having the best experience. We want to pass on a service to our final users. We always seek to design the products based on user experiences; that is the differentiation.

What are the main benefits and challenges of doing business in Colombia?

IH When I came to Colombia, people had the misconception that things from China were perhaps not the best quality. This was the first challenge we faced in the first three or four years, though we just broke through. Moreover, we built great relationships with our customers who wanted to do business with us. We are in the electrical market, government, and finance, which is another challenge for us as we had to get out of our comfort zone to try these new markets. Today, the challenge is to learn those markets because we do not need to talk about technology in those ones.

CW In terms of benefits, more people know our brand, and our expansion has been great. A challenge for us is that we are still on the way to becoming the top brand. Currently in Colombia our brand recognition is fairly high. According to certain polls, we are number two in Colombia; however, we want to be number one in the industry. Another challenge is developing this market. The economic situation of the country and Latin America, as a whole, is in a growing stage. Therefore, figuring out how to grow as well is a challenge for us.

What are your goals and priorities for the next year?

IH We will move more into the IT business, which will help with the digital transformation. For example, we are currently building artificial intelligence and have a platform called Enterprise Intelligence. The idea with this is to give more intelligence to the cloud to help businesses, for example. We are moving toward that and promoting the business of cloud and get Colombian customers to think about cloud computing and IoT.

CW We have strong confidence in 2018 compared to 2017. We plan to launch many new models with different technology this year. Our goal is to improve our service to our customers, bring out different models compared to our competitors in the market, and continue the current trend of growth in the company. We want people to realize Huawei is iconic and a leading brand in technology.