Unisys plans consulting push in Latin America

The company wants to accelerate local strategy by providing direction to clients as regulatory and compliance requirements increase.

Unisys is pressing ahead with a strategy to offer consulting services to clients in Brazil as regulatory and compliance requirements increase in one of the company's largest Latin American markets.

The company wants to double its revenue in Brazil within the next three years and will be focusing on its security, cloud and digital transformation offerings, but according to Eduardo Almeida, vice president and general manager for Latin America, a key goal is to improve client relations to boost sales.

"We see a huge greenfield ahead of us to engage further and deeper with our clients. Unisys has a comprehensive portfolio that can be offered to clients and in terms of the addressable market in the region, we have only just scratched the surface," Almeida says.

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Fourth quarter results for Unisys reported earlier this week came in at $760.9 million, up 2.2 percent year on year, while Latin America grew 19 percent on a constant currency basis. The region represents 11 percent of the company's global revenues, key markets being Brazil, Mexico and Chile. Of the 15 new enterprise solution clients Unisys signed up in 2018, 10 came from Latin markets.

Senior Vice President at the firm, Eric Hutto, made his usual first quarter visit to the Unisys offices in São Paulo this week to set priorities and get a sense of the market. During his meetings with clients in Brazil, the executive sensed local IT spending will be gathering pace in the coming months, motivated by new regulatory and compliance requirements.

"Organizations know they need to be cost efficient, profitable while adhering to all sorts of requirements but they don't always know where to start, so we developed a practical solving group who can come in and help them sort through priorities and devise a proper roadmap," Hutto adds.

"The upcoming data protection regulations are very much top of mind at our Brazilian clients. Based on our experiences and what has been going on in the UK [with GDPR] we believe we can help them focus their efforts better," he points out.

Unisys employs nearly 3000 people in the region. According to Hutto, that number will not increase drastically, but the company will be looking to hire locally to support the new strategic push towards consulting.

"We will be hiring people with a different mix of skills. It will be consultants and technology experts that can help clients sort through their regulatory and compliance issues and generally allow companies to keep running their business while they are under attack. It's about practical, relevant advice that is affordable," he says, adding that Unisys bill rates will be about 30-50 percent cheaper than traditional consultancies as the vendor has lower overheads to cover.

But how neutral or agnostic is a vendor's advice likely to be? The executive argues that it's all down to pragmatism: "We believe that our IT is superior in some respects like all companies do, but it's not about our products by themselves, it's about them being introduced to the security ecosystem in a proper way. The practical advice that we give to clients is, if an asset works, don't replace it. Add what you need to enhance the outcome."

From a macroeconomic standpoint, Hutto is optimistic about business prospects in Brazil, however, he agrees with many of his peers in other tech multinationals, who are taking a wait-and-see approach in terms of investment plans for the country.

"If the reforms promised by the new administration are fulfilled, I would be very optimistic as that brings about a different playing field for companies like ourselves. Let's give [the new government] another year and see if it gets traction."