IN VISION

Ecuador 2013 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Alfredo Fuchs, General Manager of Sony Ecuador, on innovation, the beginning of television assembly, and the significance of the country.

What contributions has Sony made to Ecuador?

At Sony we see ourselves as part of the social fabric of local society. We play an important role in giving back to society in various ways. We hire and train personnel to be productive members of this multinational corporation. We have many examples of members who were hired for an entry position as promoters, and today are key players at our HQ. We have key talents who have been given regional positions in marketing, promotion, and sales, and we currently have two local employees on foreign assignments as country managers. We provide constant training to our personnel to teach them new skills and improve on their current talents. We use our technical resources to grow tomorrow's technical companies. We have created an alliance with ESPOL, a local technical university in Guayaquil, to develop high-tech gaming software for the PlayStation 3. As part of this effort, ESPOL students are receiving guidance in developing and marketing tomorrow's software from our PlayStation Software Development headquarters in California. With the same ESPOL, we are also working together on creating widget applications to be used on smart televisions. In terms of local assembly, we started our local television assembly operations in Ecuador in 2013. This operation was developed with the support of all our technical groups around the world to develop a cutting-edge operation in line with the high-quality standards found in other Sony factories. In Latin America, Ecuador joined our other operations in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. We are always training and transferring knowledge to the local staff on issues such as assembly processes, quality control, technical record keeping, inventory management, and procurement. Our operation today has reached our expectations as a professional and accurate operation, for which Sony has always been known to have.

What is the size of Sony's operation in Ecuador?

In total, we have 168 members of the company. They are all Ecuadoreans, except for myself and two other members. We have two Sony Stores; one is in the Mall de Sol in Guayaquil and another in Quicentro Norte in Quito. These stores are our flagship stores and are managed by our own staff. All of our promoters and store staff members are 100% Sony employees and not third-party hires. This way we have full commitment from our staff and they receive all the benefits of belonging to the Sony family. Within the company we have many cases in which employees have worked their way up the ranks. Many have started off as promoters or store sales employees and now work for sales and marketing, so our employees are people who have grown up here.

“In 2012, we established local television assembly operations in Ecuador."

What innovation have you brought to the sector?

Sony has brought 4K technology for our Bravia televisions into the Ecuadorean market. This technology is the next generation of high definition, which has a 4x better resolution than previous versions. In addition, we have developed the latest improvements to the reproduction of real colors with our Triluminos technology, introducing, for the first time, real colors as never before seen on a television. Sony has also brought the latest NFC technology into the market this year, which allows our products, such as cell phones, radios, headphones, audio devices, and computers, to communicate among themselves without any complicated pairing process. This technology allows anyone to transfer data, music, photos, or movies with one touch. One of the best products to hit the market will be the Xperia Z mobile phone and tablet, which are both 100% water resistant. They can both withstand 30 minutes submerged. This is a dramatic breakthrough since it is very common to have your phone destroyed by water.

What products are most in demand?

We have seen continuous demand for televisions, computers, and tablets. Ecuadoreans are latecomers to the tablet market; the boom only occurred over the last year. Smartphones are big as well, and they're not just for the affluent consumer. This market is definitely a market in which consumers expect the latest in technology. It is an investment; the average person does not have a large disposable income, so they like financing when they purchase and thus they want a good product from a reliable brand since the purchase is a big investment for most. This is why Sony is growing very well in Ecuador; it is a brand that is trusted and always has the latest innovative technology.

What is your expected financial performance for 2013?

Over the last three years, Sony Ecuador has grown 85%. In 2013, we are expecting slow and steady growth due to issues related to consumer credit laws. Credit controls are an action the government is taking to manage the economy in order to avoid an explosion of credit, which will allow for a stable future.

What does Sony Ecuador mean to the company's global operations?

If we look at Sony worldwide, it is a huge conglomerate and one can understand that a market like Ecuador may be of small importance, but this is not the case. We are continuously receiving visitors from top management and engineers from HQ to see and understand the local market. We receive all the support a larger market may enjoy. In 2012, we established local television assembly operations in Ecuador. We joined a very small exclusive club of countries with this capability. In Latin America, we only have assembly operations in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and now Ecuador. Even though it is a small country, we have huge support. To open an operation is not so simple for a multinational since it requires all the necessary quality controls and procedures. We had a stream of engineers from Japan, the Green Management team from California, and the president from the headquarters all visit us. We also brought in an engineer from the Sony plant in Mexico as well. This is a small country, but we have high visibility. Why? Because we have strong growth, strong personnel, and we also have a very strong position in the market as a brand, and this gives people confidence in our operation.

What is your outlook for Ecuador's economy in the coming years?

I think that 2013 is a year of stability, which is good. Issues are being addressed today in order to create stability tomorrow. The government is working in certain directions to allow growth to continue for the coming years. In Ecuador, petroleum is obviously a key resource, but like all resources, it does not go on forever. Of course, the government is using renewable resources, such as hydro-plants, to export electricity to neighboring countries. The government is serious about expanding industrial mining operations and diversifying the production scheme of the country. We see a bright future for Ecuador and that is why Sony is investing in its future as well.

© The Business Year - June 2013