Chile-IT is a non-profit organization that aims to give its home technology companies an entry into the U.S. market.
The small country, recently in the news for rescuing 33 trapped miners, has a bevy of technology companies that are known in Latin America but lack U.S. exposure. Enter Chile-IT, which is looking to court U.S. companies as customers and build outposts here.
Member companies include Datco, an IT consulting company; Eticsa, a data center design firm; Coasin Global Services, an applications development outfit; Excelsys, which makes online banking systems; Ki Technology, a Web development specialist; and Synapsis, which manages data centers for utilities.
We caught up with Chile-IT CEO Juan Carlos Munoz to talk strategy:
- Where does Chile IT fit into the tech equation? Munoz noted that Chile specializes in software and services for the mining, industrial, financial and government markets. "Chilean IT companies are best of breed and we're helping them open offices in the U.S.," said Munoz.
- Is this effort really just a nearshore outsourcing play? Munoz said that Chilean IT companies have grown their outsourcing market from zero to $1 billion a year in just four years. Munoz said Chile nearshoring can be a $5 billion market by 2015. However, Chile's tech companies are looking to move onshore in the U.S. and hire staff here. For instance, Chile companies like Excelsys are experts in mobile banking, an area that lags in the U.S. Excelsys has been pitching its mobile banking software to the big banks in the U.S. "It's a nearshore, onshore strategy, said Munoz.
- Why hasn't innovative mobile banking taken off in the U.S? I noted that other countries like Turkey and Chile can deliver money via text messages. Mobile banking is holding up your phone to an ATM. Chile has had a formula like that for years. Munoz said that volume and security may be a concern for the U.S. "In Chile, there are only 16 million people so it's the perfect place to test things," he said.
- Are there political risks for Chile's IT companies? Munoz noted that Chile has a bevy of free trade deals with the U.S. Chile also has a similar business culture to the U.S. and its small size isn't likely to draw the political ire of a country like China.
- How does Chile compare to other countries in Latin America, notably Brazil and Argentina? Munoz said that larger countries in Latin America are positioning themselves as general IT practitioners. "We want to be the neurosurgeons," he said.