Business Management

BT boss seeks Brazil boost despite economic chaos

“Brazil's current economy is both a threat and an opportunity,” stresses the newly appointed country manager of BT Brazil, Alex Ingles. This is not the first time that I have heard in an interview how important Latin America, and specifically Brazil, is to transform a crisis into an opportunity - and most likely it won’t be the last.

Brazil's economy is going through its worst recession in more than three decades. In 2015, the economy shrank by 3.8 per cent, and in 2016 things are not expected to be any rosier. The political scenario is one of chaos and it is not helping to improve consumer or investor confidence. Still, for the British telco 2016 has been “a good year” in Brazil.

“Despite the adverse economy, we have achieved good results and we have made important investments in the country that will be reflected positively in the services we provide our clients throughout the Americas,” Ingles says.

In an email interview Ingles reviewed the challenges the company faced in 2016 and talks about the plans for the country in 2017.


How do you evaluate 2016?

For the telecommunications industry, 2016 was an extremely challenging year in terms of the Brazilian economy, which affected the end-consumer’s confidence and business investments. But even if the economy did not help, Brazil is a country that still has considerable scope for growth in the field of communication technologies. Today, in both people's lives and corporate life, communications are not a superfluous item. Increasingly, they are rooted in people's lives and in corporate productive processes. And this creates a demand not only for connectivity, but also for IT solutions associated with the web. The repressed demand and the growing dependence on communication solutions have largely shielded the sector from the economic crisis.

At BT, we had a good year in Brazil, if we compare our results with those of the sector. We are not directly affected by consumer confidence since we only operate in the corporate market, in line with BT’s general positioning.


Have the political and economic crises in Brazil impacted the company in some way?

Brazil's current economy is both a threat and an opportunity. It causes digital transformation projects to be postponed. And it also holds back foreign investments as companies prefer to wait for a more positive moment to invest. On the other hand, we have the opportunity to help both multinational and large Brazilian companies become more efficient by using telecommunications and digital technologies - which is exactly our business.


What are the outlooks, plans of the company in Brazil for 2017?

We will continue to focus on selling value-added networked IT services, maintaining our ‘Cloud of Clouds’ strategy that maximizes the potential of our global network by bringing together services - ours and third-party services - to our customers, who are mainly multinational companies.

An important area for the company's growth in Brazil is cyber security, in which we have very strong credentials. We are a major player in this field. We have a flexible and comprehensive portfolio of cyber-security solutions, and provide services for government and large businesses, including Brazilian and multinational organizations. A great opportunity also derives from the fact that we can provide a wide range of services, from connectivity to the most complex communication, collaboration and security solutions, to help our clients’ digital transformation, allowing for the automation of their business processes and the development of new sources of revenue, as well as improving their own clients’ experience.

Brazil already has a sizeable weight in BT's revenues in the Americas, and I think we can boost this even further. I hope we can get back to a faster pace of growth in 2017. I hope that Brazil will be successful in implementing effective measures leading to a new cycle of economic growth.


What are the best and the worst aspects of operating in a country like Brazil?

The Brazilian market tends to be conservative as regards adopting new technologies - and this, in my opinion, is a feature that is associated with market maturity: in the less mature markets the adoption curve tends to be slower, gradually accelerating as it evolves. However, the Brazilian market can also be innovative, from the perspective of doing more with less, of seeking efficiency, which can be a good opportunity for us, especially for our audio and videoconferencing solutions.


Also read:
Diversity, money boost Brazil’s big tech hub in Sao Paulo
Brazil’s fintechs bank on more deals, less red tape
Digital citizenship rises in Brazil amid political crisis
Brazil: How cybercriminals may take advantage of a political crisis
Brazil’s IT sector remains steadfast despite economic decline
Brazil lures youth with IT learning schemes to fill skills gap
Teleradiology company helps solve radiologist shortage in Brazil
Is Brazil tech-ready for the 2016 Olympics?


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