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Outsourcing: Blanca Trevino, CEO of Softtek (Part 1)

Posted on Thursday, May 10th 2012

Softtek is global company that provides its clients, which comprise top-tier corporations, with process-driven IT solutions. The company has office locations in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia. The world has Softtek to thank for the creation of nearshoring, which involves companies outsourcing tasks to other companies that are located in nearby countries or accepting outsourced work from companies in nearby locations i.e., a U.S.-based company outsourcing its customer service responsibilities to a call center in Mexico or Brazil or vice versa.

Sramana Mitra: Hi Blanca. Let’s start with some context of your company. When did you get started? What kind of circumstances got you going, and what are you doing today?

Blanca Trevino: OK. We started in December 1982, a very difficult time in Mexico. Since the beginning, we’ve been interested in becoming a global player. It was 30 years ago but today, we are a global company with locations on three different continents. What we do is provide IT services for the corporate clients that we have today. We are still a private company. Most of the shareholders are active in the company and work in different roles within the company. I do believe that from a certain perspective, we have been opening this industry for Latin America. When we started in ’82, at the beginning, we were a very small company. After five years, we started in Brazil and then in Spain and other countries in South America until 1997.

When we looked around and explored opportunities, it was clear that the only way to compete in the U.S. was to have a differentiated office. So, we launched what today is called nearshoring. It’s a trademark. I truly believe that nearshoring is the key to opening this industry in Latin America. Today, you see more players, and not just from Mexico but also from other countries, which is great. When we started in the U.S. in ’97, it was difficult because no one believed that Latin America could provide IT services. But more and more, you see as an alternative some of the countries here in Latin America.

SM: How many people do you have all around the world in the different locations that you mentioned?

BT: We have today a bit more than 7,000 people.

SM: Tell me how are they distributed? If you were to look at your top regions, how many people in each country? Can you give us a little flavor of the distribution?

BT: Yes. Most of the people are in Mexico, not for the Mexican market, but again, going back to nearshoring, our largest operation is in the U.S., but we support the U.S. from the four data centers that we have in Mexico. So, I would say probably 4,800 people are based in Mexico. Then we have a little bit more than 1,000 in Brazil and then we have smaller operations in Argentina, Colombia, Europe and Asia. Asia is our smallest operation. We have something like 200 people. We have two data centers in China.

SM: What about the customer base? What’s the distribution of the customer base?

BT: Revenue wise?

SM: Yes, revenue wise.

BT: As I mentioned before, the U.S. is our largest operation, and we support in the U.S. and other countries probably 15 of the global Fortune 100. So, I would say about 40% of revenue comes from the U.S. Then we have Brazil. In Brazil, we work with multi-nationals, retail companies and banks and high-techs throughout Brazil. But we also [work with] all the Brazilian companies in that region. In Mexico, probably financial institutions would be the largest group, and we also support the government and the projects that they have, and again, multi-nationals, large Mexican corporations. It’s always probably the top of the pyramid, the very large corporations, that’s our target market.

SM: So, you’re working mostly with large enterprises.

BT: Right. That’s where we can compete in every single market [that we serve].

SM: And what kinds of IT services constitute most of your business?

BT: We’re trying to help our clients maximize the value of their applications. So, from that perspective, most of what we do is application maintenance and support, development testing, ERP implementation. It’s really helping our clients maximize the value of their applications.

SM: You’re competing, head to head, with the large Indian outsourcers, Accenture and so on and so forth.

BT: Yes. In the case of the U.S., the most important is Nearshore, and then we do compete with the largest Indian ventures. They offer offshore. We offer Nearshore. Today, because of the centers that we have in Europe and in China, we can cover all the global sourcing needs. So, yes, in the case of the U.S., we compete with the Indian ventures. In the case of Latin America, I’d say that we face more often the Accentures or IBMs or HPs of the world.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Outsourcing: Blanca Trevino, CEO of Softtek
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