Latin America techs up.

Author:Newbery, Charles


New technologies like big data, cloud computing and social media are transforming business in Latin America. Companies are using them to boost revenues, trim costs and gain more customers.

In healthcare, a call center agent can sometimes strain to decipher an emergency. A patient may not know how serious his pains may be.

Gustavo Aguirre, the CIO at private health insurer Grupo Osde in Argentina, is implementing technology to ease this process. An agent taking a patient's call will Still ask questions and input what is said. Then a rules engine--software capable of inferring logical consequences from a set of data--will process the information and determine how quickly a doctor should be dispatched on a house call, putting that case ahead of others if urgent. "This improves the quality of our services, "Aguirre says. "It reduces errors."

Rules engines are an example of how new technologies like big data, cloud computing, mobile and social media are transforming business in Latin America--and around the world. Companies are using them to improve their capabilities for marketing and operations, and to boost revenue, trim costs and gain more customers.

These technologies are making noise in Latin America, yet wide implementation is still "a couple years away," says Rodrigo Slelatt, who follows these trends at A.T. Kearney, a New York based management consulting firm.

Most companies are still focused on enterprise resource planning, he says. They are integrating 'all the parts of their organizations --accounts payable, customer databases, human resources, order-tracking systems and so forth into a network that can be accessed and updated by employees all the time.

Nevertheless, steps are being taken, the first being in cloud computing, or renting computing capacity, and applications over the Internet.

The benefits are clear. For one thing, it costs 10 times less than acquiring servers and software licenses, says Slelatt.

Another advantage is availability. "Cloud computing is a great way to provide people more immediate access to vital information such as a sales rep who needs information right away about a customer's contract or deal status," says Joe Ruck, CEO of Menlo Park, California-based Board Vantage, which provides secure online platforms for leadership communication.

Traditionally, firms order a server for more capacity and then the software for new applications, a process that can take six months to a year...

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