FOR GRUPO ASSA, THE OLD (STEREOTYPED) RIVALRY between Brazil and Argentina is strictly kept to the soccer field. Grupo Assa, specializing in IT consulting and outsourcing, was created in 1992 in Argentina, but Brazil is the country that is now responsible for more than half of the company’s revenue. The group recently announced plans for a second delivery center in Sao Paulo, scheduled to open in the second half of of this year.
Currently Grupo Assa has operations in another location in São Paulo (Chácara Santo Antônio) and in Curitiba, which provide services to about 10,000 users in the country.
The company anticipates 35% revenue growth in Brazil this year, but what is the rationale for targeting São Paulo? “Because we are expanding to where our clients are. Even though the city is considerably expensive, it is worth it for us to grow here,” says Marcio Caputo, the firm’s vice president for Brazil. It is important for the group to grow in the city and the region that is the economic heart of Brazil, and where it finds the best infrastructure available.
According to Caputo, clients in Brazil are divided basically into three categories: 1) multinationals that have operations in the country, such as Johnson & Johnson, KraftFoods, Electrolux and so on; 2) Latin American corporations that have expanded to different regions, such as Vale and Camargo Correa; 3) local national clients, like the retail chain Lojas Marisa.
“Currently, about 70% of the domestic earnings are derived from clients we have had for more than two years. We know how important it is to keep them,” he says.
Outside of Brazil, Grupo Assa also has operations in DF, Mexico, and in Tandil and Buenos Aires, Argentina. The company has clients in 30 different countries, and had revenues of US$105 million in 2011. Besides the new delivery center in São Paulo, which will provide about 100 jobs to start, the firm also plans to simultaneously open a similar one in Cape Town, South Africa.
“We are a Latin company. It is not fair to say Grupo Assa is a company from Argentina. We are Latin, operate in Latin countries, and have Latin clients,” Caputo says.
SAP and Oracle
Recently the company announced a strategic partnership with SAP to offer financial services from Argentina, Chile, and Mexico to clients across the region. The main products offered permit the interconnection between front office operations and back-office systems.
Grupo Assa offers application management services to more than 40,000 final users of SAP and Oracle J.D. Edwards in different parts of the world. Among the global clients are AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Bayer and Amcor Rigid Plastics.
Brazil, according to Caputo, will remain strategically vital to the firm’s overall growth. For him, the challenges the provider faces are similar to those confronted by the entire industry when operating in Brazil: basically shortage of tech professionals, infrastructure, and high costs. “But what we have to consider the most is how to attract and to retain our clients; that is something bigger than anything else. I cannot make mistakes with my clients.”