This is the second article in a series about the technology sector in Latin American markets. Last month, we looked at Brazil. This month, we explore Argentine technology markets.
Argentina’s Business Environment
Argentina has a very mixed reputation as a periodically politically unstable nation, yet with great potential for economic growth when allowed to flourish by its leaders. Argentina has long had a technological focus and success in fields such as medicine, nuclear physics, biotechnology, nanotechnology and space science. It currently plays host to global high-tech companies like Motorola, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sony and Google.
Argentina is competitive in terms of access to technology’s core tools. Its internet penetration is twice as high as the world average and similar to many European countries. Argentina’s broadband penetration is less than half of Europe’s, although it is similar to Chile and high for the region. 2011 saw a continued increase of broadband access (fixed 21% and mobile 150%) combined with higher notebook sales and the record sale of smartphones and USB modems. Broadband services over both cellular and fixed networks are expected to continue increasing in 2012.
The main factors helping to drive demand for IT hardware, software, and services in 2012 are:
- New investments in Argentina in several industries, including tourism
- Needed upgrades to most current IT systems
- The growth of Internet access (fixed and mobile)
- Increased complexity and convergence of technologies
- Highly educated and tech-savvy population
- New mobile number portability law
- Nationwide extension of fiber optic lines under Argentina Conectada Program
Argentina is investing in both technology cluster development as well as in technology infrastructure to help position this country for growth.
Today, Buenos Aires is home to many tech start-ups and established companies, and a top notch talent pool. The Buenos Aires technology community also provides help in both subsidies and business coaching to its high-tech entrepreneurs. Based in the capital, Palermo Valley is a non-profit organization connecting the Argentine community with the global high-tech business community. For example, Palermo Valley arranged for Argentinean start-ups to pitch their companies in Silicon Valley.
Cordoba is the second-largest Argentine city and is located near the geographical center of Argentina. It has a fast-growing software industry but a lack of qualified IT workers at least in the short-term. High-tech companies in Cordoba include: Nimbuzz, Intel, EA, Dreamworks, Zynga, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and LinkedIn. There is a new technology park in Cordoba: Cordoba City. A total of 33 companies have agreed to open offices in the complex so far.
Technology Industry Opportunities
Argentina’s information technology market (hardware, software, services, etc.) reached $5 billion in revenues in 2011, 15% more than in 2010 and expected to increase 12% in 2012. IT Services are growing in Argentina as outsourcing of IT-related services continues as a global trend. Total revenues of this subsector reached almost $1.5 billion in 2011.
International consulting firm IDC said data center service providers will focus on value-added services. Technologies like virtualization and green IT are expected to help drive investments in data centers. Argentine data center service providers are expected to adapt offerings for smaller firms given the saturation in the large enterprise segment.
On the hardware side, high-end branded PCs, notebooks, netbooks and minibooks, printers, servers, and multi-user systems will increasingly need to be imported. Smart phones, digital cameras, MP3, MP4, other PDAs, digital storage devices, GPS, and portable and fixed gaming products are expected to increase next year as well. Since locally assembled PCs account for over 70 percent of the market, PC components will continue to be in high demand. Local assembly targets the residential and home-office PC markets. In B2B markets the cost savings from local assembly does not offset guarantees offered from the original vendor. The Argentine Government passed a law three years ago increasing the tariff on imported electronics by 30%. This law is attributed for the increase in locally assembled products over imported products.
The IT Services market in Argentina offers major opportunities for U.S. companies in network implementation, management and maintenance, legacy applications, wireless LANs, RTE (real time infrastructure) implementations, remote operation processing, back-up, critical mission services, disaster recovery systems, internet and network security systems, document digitalization, digital asset management, storage, utility computing, and information systems for rural areas (traceability, RFID, etc). Cloud computing and virtualization-related services are strong market segments in 2012. Software development outsourcing and call centers will continue to garner investments, exports, and increased sales in the Argentine market. In software markets, there will be large opportunities likely in security systems and business intelligence applications in 2012.
Argentina is just one country in Latin America experiencing high growth in technology markets. Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Colombia are also seeing major technology investments by governments, companies and individuals. If you would like more information about entering Latin American markets, please contact me. Best wishes on all of your international business efforts!
– Becky Park, The International Entrepreneur