Marcos Pueyrredonpresident of the eCommerce Institute and coFounder & Global Executive VP VTEXspoke with scope.com about the current situation of the digital ecosystem in Latin America and how the path was to become a hotbed of technological talent to the world.
– Historically, Latin America appeared to be lagging behind in matters such as industrial and economic development, but now we are in a hotbed in terms of technological development. ¿Why the change?
– It is true that we are between developing countries and third world countries, depending on the look with which they look at us, and in many aspects we began to have hub countries for certain things, Brazil as the breadbasket of the world and that had a change in a couple of generations . The same thing happened to us with him. first internet boom, in 1999-2000. You have cases that were born in Latin America and that managed to be benchmarks in the region. From this base what was generated is a digital commerce ecosystem. There are references that were born in Latin America and that are going out to the world, cases like dLocal, Free market, Take off, VTEX, and we are going to conquer the US, Europe and Asia. So you have that know-how, you have an ecosystem behind you. All this is talent of Latin American origin and many companies are following the path that they marked out. There is a domino effect because there is very good talent and an ecosystem has developed.
– From what milestones was that generated?
– From generating a local market. After the pandemic – I call it AC-DC squared, before, during and after Covid-19 – there is a new era. One does not take the dimension because we have a poor memory and we forget about hard things, but what we experienced in two years was something historical. And that changed our way of doing things. In that before during and after you had a very big change in consumption habits. There is a theme that I call the digital darwinism and it is that the brands, no matter the size, and the retailers, the entrepreneurs who want to survive after this, are those that adapt to these new habits. And all of us verismo with a hyperdigitization of our habitsnot only for consumption.
For example, before in Uruguay we all celebrated that with Amazon Prime the purchase arrived in two days. Today you have in Uruguay and in all Latin American countries a Free Market that delivers AM-PM, you have a ordersnow which exceeded one million orders per month. This data shows you the level of hyperdigitalization that we have. Everyone is impacted by digital. Latin America is what it is because there is an internal ecosystem that has allowed us to develop talent to support those SMEs, those entrepreneurs that already have a penetration rate of more than 10% of their sales through digital channels.
Latin America is the best ecosystem or place to train storm pilots. More in these times of constant storms that we are living in the world. Because when you speak to an American, to a European of inflation They don’t know about inflation, they didn’t. On the other hand, we, forget about the country, are used to working in very rough markets, with constant storms. So when we go to the world it is much easier because we are used to much more complex markets. Where do we work best? In Eastern Europe what in Western Europe, because? because in Western Europe or the US there are the big players who are already positioned. There we have to displace them, and why didn’t they go to Eastern Europe? because it is very difficult for them. And that’s why they’re not in Latin America either.
– In the case of Uruguay, the plan to turn it into an innovation hub collides with a labor gap in the ICT sector. Did the needs of companies evolve faster than the labor market?
– Today what Uruguay gives you is that it is one of the few countries that maintains clear rules and that has developed an ecosystem that attracts. Uruguay has focused on providing services abroad, through the free trade zone, of the promoted regimes, of maintaining the policies in the medium and long term despite the fact that the political color changes. It always promoted being a service hub, that evolution of services went towards technology now. But he always had services.
Another thing that happens is that today it is much easier to attract talent because you have the concept of digital nomad. They are things that you do not have in other countries. So the level of flexibility, attraction of investment and talent, and economic and political stability is what we are seeing.
How do you resolve the issue of talent? With the actions that almost all companies in the industry are doing. With scholarship programs, to develop talent from the seedbed from high school. It is true that there are not enough people in Uruguay for what Latin America needs, but yes has great growth potential. Today what we have to continue working on are the bases that allow us to provide more and better quality employment because work in technology is high quality work and very well paid.