CRM, integration and Web services hot in Latin America

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The most important IT trends in Latin America in the coming three years will be Web services, analytical customer relationship management (CRM) software and integration of enterprise applications and systems, Gartner Inc. analyst Marcelo Ciordia said Wednesday during a presentation at the company's Symposium/ITxpo here.

The adoption by Latin American companies of CRM systems capable of analyzing customer data is a natural evolution from their implementation in past years of enterprise software suites and data analysis tools, Ciordia said. Although not many companies in Latin America have analytical CRM systems in place, many are planning to adopt them, he said.

Ultimately, Latin American companies that have a foundation of enterprise software suites, including CRM, supply chain management, enterprise resource planning and data analysis tools, such as online analytical processing and data mining wares, will be in a position to have a broader view of their operations than they have now, something Ciordia called "corporate performance management."

It's important for CIOs in Latin America to provide business managers with a broad and clear picture of the company's business operations, Ciordia and several of his Gartner colleagues said, because in Latin America, companies must be flexible and able to respond quickly to the region's regular economic and political crises.

Latin American companies are also interested in integrating systems and applications because companies in the region normally can't afford to totally discard existing systems, Ciordia said. Companies might buy new systems, but they may not have the money to replace everything, so linking the new systems with older systems is a must, Ciordia said.

The interest in Web services, which Gartner identified as the third important trend in Latin America, is tied closely to integration, because there's a perception in Latin America that Web services technology "provides a simple way to integrate systems," he said.

As CIOs in Latin America evaluate these three technologies, it's essential that they choose wisely which new IT systems to implement and when, said Cassio Dreyfuss, another Gartner analyst. Most Latin American companies don't have the luxury of betting incorrectly on large technology purchases, since their IT budgets tend to be smaller and their countries' economic problems larger than in other regions, he said. "CIOs in Latin America must choose wisely when to jump in," Dreyfuss said.

Moreover, CIOs in Latin America should divide their companies' IT assets into those that are necessary to have and those that can be eliminated in times of economic problems, said Pedro Bicudo, a Gartner analyst. Along these lines, CIOs should split big IT projects into small segments that can be completed in the short term, he added. That way, if economic problems roll around, the project can be put on hold with some parts already implemented, instead of having to eliminate it entirely, Bicudo said.

In short, CIOs in Latin America do well to be conservative and risk-averse while also being open to evaluating new technologies and initiatives. They also should reach out to business managers and let business goals drive IT initiatives, he said.

Finally, Gartner analyst Luis Anavitarte said end-user spending in Latin America on IT and telecommunications products and services will hit $153.1 billion in 2002, up 6.1% from 2001. Anavitarte unveiled these spending estimates for the region in coming years:

2003: $166 billion

2004: $186 billion

2005: $210 billion

2006: $230 billion


Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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