Companies look beyond today’s economic difficulties. The advancement of new technologies, the digitization of money and the need to reduce costs, among other things, are part of the agenda of companies, forced to convert to compete inside and outside the country. In all areas – banks, food, consulting, automobiles and even toy manufacturers – they are exploring alternatives to grow, increase productivity, create value and conquer new markets.
All of this was discussed on the panel “Companies that reinvent themselves in the face of new scenarios” who organized clarion and which is part of the traditional cycle “The World to Come”which has the main support of Telecom and DESA, as well as the sponsorship of Afarte and Pan American Energy, and the support of the Government of the City of Buenos Aires.
On this occasion, Pablo Lera, Undersecretary for Economic Development of the GCBA; Daniel Dimare, marketing director of Juguetes Rasti; Romina Simonelli, vice president of means of payment of Ualá; Diego Bleger, Advisory Lead Partner at KPMG Argentina; and Kavak CEO for Spanish-speaking South America, Jaime Macaya. All under the leadership of the editors of Clarín’s Economy, Daniel Fernández Canedo and Silvia Naishtat.
The variegated universe of businesses and public administration is constantly evolving. Many changes accelerated with the pandemic, which increased the challenge of adaptation. Lera argues that in this process of adaptation companies need a modern state. “In general, SMEs turn to the state when there is a certain ignorance about certain processes or when they need help to expand, to internationalise. That’s where we try to guide them, train them, help them, guide them,” the official said.
Although the information revolution (video games, for example) has changed the structures of children’s entertainment, toys remain relevant, Di Mare says, thanks to technologies such as 3D printing, augmented reality and the appeal to robotics. “Today, a company needs two fundamental pillars: efficiency and agility.“, summary.
The executive went further and added that “all industries, in one way or another, modernized, had to look at new technologies”. The return of activities in the post-pandemic hasn’t stopped reconversions, but the pace varies according to the category of each company.
The companies’ priorities were reflected in a survey prepared by the consultancy KPMG. The survey involved 50 Argentine CEOs, who were consulted on their projections on trade and economic prospects for the next 3 years. Despite the current crisis and difficulties, the vast majority, 70% said they prioritize increasing productivity. They also prioritized supply chain diversification (58%) and narrowing profit margins (48%). But 52% stressed they are reconsidering strategic investments.
A new generation of startups is breaking into the entrepreneurial fabric, creating new markets through technology: this is the case of Kavak, which in 2018 created a platform for the buying and selling of used cars. “We saw that there was a huge opportunity to give customers a digital experience, because it is a fairly fragmented industry with very little innovationMacaya explained.
Several unicorns have emerged from this new breed of technology companies, such as Ualá, the fintech founded and directed by Pierpaolo Barbieri and which last year acquired Wilobank, the first digital bank in the country. In this regard, Simonelli argues that the entity “is one more piece within our ecosystem, which It will allow us to expand the value offer”.
Like banks, the company faces the challenge of expanding the use of electronic money in a country where cash predominates because “informality is high,” the executive said. In this sense, what is sought (with the virtual wallet) is that the cash becomes a digital balance. “We are the first private cash digitizer in Argentina because we allow the customer to come, bring the money and then digitize it”.
A large school Technological evolution and innovation require highly qualified personnel, a rare heritage all over the world. On this, Bleger underlines that “Argentina is a great school compared to other countries in the region”. The executive supported him “The level of Argentinian talent is excellent” and that is why it is so globally appreciated.
Bleger adds, however, that many young people can work abroad from the country, and that this heats up due to the retention of talent. “Today they don’t even need to leave. The world is changing in this sense and I think companies are realizing that retaining talent and caring for it is paramount,” he said she, but admits the task is complicated by high inflation.
“You have to keep your salary to be competitive and that’s really getting harder every day, mostly because you have to compete with foreign companies that pay you in dollars or cryptocurrencies”, added the expert. Even in the second-hand business, competition is fierce, according to Macaya, because “it is an ultra-fragmented sector”, in which the one that offers the best services for “transactions between private individuals” prevails.
On competition and conversion, Di Mare reminds us in the 1990s there were 260 producers and currently there are 180. “Those who have remained are those who have invested in training, in forming teams, in improving projects and developments. This was not done before”, acknowledges the entrepreneur. Similarly, Simonelli explains that the financial system “is an extremely complex market” and that Ualá is betting “on a sector traditionally neglected” by banks.
The public sector is not immune to these changes. “In terms of technology – says Lera – we have been forced by the pandemic to speed up many procedures that were previously face-to-face, virtually through the website or through some electronic means. I think everyone has consulted Boti (the official chatbot) at some point,” she said.
Charles Arterburn is a seasoned business journalist for News Rebeat, where he provides comprehensive coverage of the latest trends and developments in the world of finance and economics.