A magical place in a unique country. A select group of professionals from major corporations. 21 Countries. 2 Languages. 1000 Ideas.
By Maria Cecilia Maldonado and Fabiano Cid
In April 2010, the Rio de Janeiro beach town of Buzios will set the stage for a special gathering of some of the world’s leading brands in Brazil. Think Latin America will involve the participation of giant brands and corporations, which will reveal their strategies for conquering this market.
The event was conceived with a focus on Latin America because this is the region that suffered the least with the recent economic crisis. Since Brazil is leading the economic recovery as a powerhouse in the region, we thought it was the most appropriate location for the venue. Brazil is part of the so-called BRIC group, which also includes Russia, India and China. According to Jim O’Neill, head of economic research at Goldman Sachs and the very creator of the term, these four countries together are to lead the global economic recovery after the 2008 meltdown. Consumption in the BRIC countries will compensate for the loss of consumption capacity in the US and Europe. In a recent visit to Rio de Janeiro to attend a conference on an agenda for the BRIC countries, O’Neill said, “I do not think of the BRICs as emerging countries in the traditional sense, as this would be virtually an insult. These four countries are an essential part for any company with a global strategy. In 20 or 30 years, they will dominate the world’s economic scale.”
The expansion of the group can be confirmed in figures. According to Goldman Sachs, Brazil is predicted to grow 6.4% in 2010, China, 11.4%, India, 8.2% and Russia, 4.5%. By 2050, China will rank the highest in the world’s largest economies and the other countries of the group will be among the 10th largest economies, as can be seen in the graphic below:
A quick search on the Web will show that economists and think tanks all agree that Latin America was and continues to be well positioned to face the crisis heads up. However, the localization industry has a history of ignoring Latin America as a potential market for expansion and growth, having focused their efforts in emerging markets in Asia and Eastern Europe. The world’s economy and the largest players and brands, however, have already realized the potential of the region and have been investing heavily in Latin American countries. We thought it was about time to turn the eyes of localization stakeholders to the region and show its potential as a major market and source of skilled resources. Hence the meaning behind the event’s name: it calls the attention of the localization world to start “thinking about Latin America” and also acts as a wake-up call to the region, which still has to realize its full potential: “Think, Latin America!”
This is one of the reasons why we invited Vice Presidents, directors and senior managers of corporate giants, such as The Coca-Cola Company, Nokia, Xerox, VeriSign, VMware and CEVA Logistics to share their insights into the region with event participants. Yet there are other reasons behind that too… We have been hearing from colleagues and clients alike how tired they all are of attending events where you have to listen to speakers who will only talk about linguistic quality, translation tools and the threat of machine translation. Think Latin America is geared towards entrepreneurs and high-level managers, who already know how to run their localization businesses. As Latin American entrepreneurs dealing with a worldwide clientele ourselves, we felt the need to address more encompassing issues, devise business opportunities and learn from actual buyers what they are looking for in terms of internationalization and localization.
Besides, we learnt that one of the main goals of the current Brazilian government is to create truly global companies, and that certainly applies to other countries in the region, where the number of multinational Latin American corporations is increasing by the day. Of particular interest is the 2009 Boston Consulting Group MultiLatinas report, which offers “a fresh look at Latin America and how a new breed of competitors is reshaping the business landscape.” You must be wondering too where these companies find help to achieve their goals. We wanted to be there and lend a hand for their internationalization efforts. No company with global reach or with intentions to expand internationally will survive without the help of a strong and powerful localization partner. Yet in order to be prepared for this, we should go straight to the source. We want to listen from end customers and prospects what they need from localization vendors so that we can start organizing ourselves as a regional group.
IMTT has been successfully organizing training events for the localization industry in Latin America for quite a few years now. When we met in a localization conference in Buenos Aires, we started joking that we needed an “extreme localization makeover” event to spice things up down here. Later, IMTT invited Fabiano to be one of the speakers at our last conference in Córdoba, Argentina. His presentation was about “Rising Opportunities in Latin America,” and he was not afraid to share with conference participants what had worked for his company and what were his ideas for other businesses in the region. (The presentation is available online and you can download the slides here.)
IMTT teamed up with Ccaps to help organize the event, as doing a conference in Brazil was high in our agenda. Not to mention the numerous opportunities arising from the fact that Brazil will be hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Together we realized we could have a most successful event if we added the concept of an open forum among executives to the successful format of the 6th Language and Technology Conference, where people had the chance to interact more and share their insight without being over worried about setting up rushed client meetings and distributing their business cards like maniacs.
The next step would be to put the program together, one that would attract vendors and clients alike. We were lucky enough to count on a wonderful Advisory Board, who helped us shape the format of the event and bring other stellar presenters from several industries and from all parts of the region and beyond. Advisory Board members included Katia Azevedo, Language Services Manager for Xerox Global Services; Renato Beninatto, Chief Instigator at Milengo; Nilze O’Brien, Localization Project Manager at McDonald’s; Wagner Covos, South America Sales and Marketing Vice President of CEVA Logistics; Eva Klaudinyova, Localization Manager in the Globalization Program at VMware; Clio Schils, Account Director of Life Sciences at Lionbridge; Marco Simões, Communications and Sustainability Vice-President for Coca-Cola Brazil; Cecilia Iros, Operations Manager at IMTT, and the two of us. Fortunately and despite their busy schedules, most Board members will be able to attend Think Latin America as either speakers or hosts, or both. The only one who will not make it and will be much missed is Nilze O’Brien, as she had to prepare for a McDonald’s conference at the same time of the year.
We came to the conclusion that we needed a diversified program and gathered distinct names from several industries, ranging from technology, life sciences, telecommunications, legal, logistics, sports, media, government and consumer market. Alexandre Techima, the Planning and Coordination Director of the Organizing Committee for the 2016 Olympic Games, and Celso Schvartzer, Commercial Development Director of Dream Factory Sports, will be sharing tips on how to seize the opportunities opened up by two major sports events happening in Brazil in this decade. Gaston Mirkin, from Paolantonio & Legón Abogados will talk about material jurisdiction issues in Argentina and other Latin American countries. Richard Korn, Senior Manager of Localization and Packaging Development at St. Jude Medical, is joining Clio Schils in a panel to debate on the requirements of the life sciences industry in the region and how it differs from the US and European markets. Djalma Petit, the Market Director of SOFTEX, the Brazilian Association for the Promotion of Software Excellence, will explain how the Brazilian software industry is positioning itself to be a global provider of IT services. Robson Teles, Global Localization Specialist, will explain how Nokia has been using localization as a CRM tool to retain customers and improve sales. Wagner Covos will give “logistics lessons to localization stakeholders” while asking participants what we do as an industry to increase revenue and play a more important role in a globalized economy. Luigi Riboldi, President and founder of Logoscript, will represent the vendor side of the localization business and share his experience of having a business in Latin America from an economic and human point of view. Marcello Coltro, Senior Vice President of Sales and Chief Marketing Officer of MGM Networks Latin America will be talking about media and TV in Latin America. Silvia Avary-Silveira, Senior Localization Manager at VeriSign, joins Eva Klaudinyova and Katia Azevedo to discuss what kind of quality are localization buyers looking for when working with their vendors or selecting new ones. Last but not least, Marco Simões will let attendees know how Coca-Cola has been doing to leverage the power and influence of the Brazilian middle class, whose purchasing power is increasing enormously by the day.
In an intimate environment with a select audience, one can interact much more, and this is what we intend to achieve with Think Latin America. Where else could you meet the Director of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, who will be organizing the largest sports event in 2016 in Brazil? To hear from three of the largest localization buyers in the technology arena what quality really means to each of them? To sit down with the Vice President of one of the most important brands worldwide to learn how they are preparing the new generation of an emerging class through online games? Or even learn from a VP of one the largest logistics companies worldwide what made this business transform itself from a niche transportation market to an economic powerhouse that generates $3.5 trillion globally? Perhaps only in Buzios, in April this year. And we will be waiting for you there!
Maria Cecilia Maldonado is the Managing Director and Cofounder of IMTT. Fabiano is the Managing Director of Ccaps Translation and Localization.
This article was originally published in the “Event Corner” section of the February/March 2010 issue of ClientSide News magazine.