For GeneXus International, being a major player in the local market is not enough. Founded in 1989 in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, the company, which specializes in manufacturing Agile software development tools based on obtaining and managing user and client data, now operates in several countries within the Americas, Europe, Asia and even Africa.
Uruguay, alongside Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico, is one the of the region’s leading software exporters, according to Anibal Gonda, Technology Evangelist at GeneXus. As the market has matured, Latin America’s software development firms are now very well positioned, he told Nearshore Americas in an exclusive interview.
Gonda touched upon the use of knowledge when developing software, the progress being made with mobile apps, and the countries with the largest potential and the greatest maturity within the Latin American development market.
He also discussed how, in its efforts to simplify system development by “automating everything automatable,” GeneXus has come up with a smart application and system development tool which enables you to automatically create, develop and maintain programs, data bases and mission critical apps in multiple languages and for different platforms, such as, iOS, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Android.
Nearshore Americas: GeneXus promotes the use of software development tools based in automated knowledge management. What exactly does this involve?
Anibal Gonda: We have noticed that systems are redeveloped simply because there is a technological change in the market, rather than because they no longer meet the purpose for which they were developed. We believe that knowledge is pure and we try to keep it as far away from technology as possible. For example, the concept of invoicing is pretty much the same as it has always been. However, as time has gone on, thousands of new systems have been developed; for the simple reason that new technology has arrived on the market and systems have had to be rewritten. But the knowledge regarding how things are done is the same as ever.
NSAM: According to a recent GeneXus investigation, carried out in Latin America, around 22% of businesses already have a functioning mobile app strategy. What are these businesses seeing when it comes to mobility?
AG: Mobility is a technology that is here to stay. It helps businesses get closer to the users, and allows a dialogue that would not be possible with any other technology. This dialogue was never possible when working with desktop apps or internet apps. Mobile devices are readily available to end users, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day; something that greatly facilitates dialogue and opens up new channels of communication. These devices offer significant advantages and you should make the most of them when creating this new generation of apps. Mobile apps result in a much more fluent dialogue, which is why everyone – from big businesses to governmental entities – is getting on board.
NSAM: What features would you recommend for a mobile app to set it apart from the rest and ensure it proves functional for the organizations using it?
AG: To develop a mobile app that is a cut above the rest, the most important thing is to focus on its intended user. Another important consideration, to ensure the app will be used, is to work out exactly how it will benefit the user. This is where we encounter an unending list of alternatives. You have to go the extra mile. For example; rather than just having a list of branch addresses, you could incorporate GPS; guiding a user from their current location directly to the nearest branch. It’s extremely simple; you don’t put any data at risk, you don’t end up losing great quantities of information, there is no risk of hacking and you are providing a really important service.
NSAM: What are you doing to make the most of Cloud software?
AG: TheCloud, without a doubt, is hugely advantageous for businesses of all types; from the smallest to the biggest, as you don’t have to invest in a large server infrastructure or complicated data base management system. Businesses such as Microsoft and Amazon were some of the first when it came to Cloud computing. And there are other examples, such as IBM, Google and Oracle. That’s to say, all the technological leaders are doing what they can to make the most of Cloud services.
The great advantage when it comes to the Cloud is that it allows us to have an app with optimal high yield, where all you need to do is upgrade from time to time. Without a doubt, the Cloud is extremely influential and it’s here to stay. At GeneXus we mainly use third-party Clouds. We started by working solely with Amazon’s Cloud, but we have now incorporated Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and Red Hat. We also work with some private Clouds.
NSAM: What is the level of maturity of the software development market within Latin America?
AG: It has matured greatly. In Uruguay alone we have seen great changes over the last ten years. The popular trend of outsourcing to Indian businesses was resulting in competition for Latin America. Some businesses have had good experiences with India; but the majority have not. This is mainly due to complications brought about by working in different time zones and with different languages and idiosyncrasies – Latin America works one way, India another.
So, Latin American businesses have come back into play; particularly in Mexico, where local businesses are working hard and software development businesses are once again on the rise. Another advantage in Latin America is the sound academic training being provided in the information technology field. When you have well-trained technical staff you can grow to encompass all parts of the globe.
NSAM: Which Latin American countries are strongest when it comes to software development?
AG: Without a doubt, Uruguay is one of the most significant countries. This is because the local market is currently very small; so Uruguay functions mainly as a software exporter. As a result, Uruguay has a very strong presence within Latin America. Argentina, Brazil and Mexico are also noteworthy, as their software businesses have shown significant growth and have matured greatly. It’s just that they are not as well positioned in the region as they have quite sufficient local markets. This means they end up developing with the local market in mind rather than the exportation market – but levels are still really good. I believe that software development businesses have matured over the last ten years and are now well positioned. Without a doubt, the leaders are Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Chile.
NSAM: How far do you think GeneXus will go in the next few years?
AG: What we are trying to do is make technological advances easily available to the end users. Our mission is to make software fabrication more and more simple. I believe that we have reached a really interesting stage when it comes to technology, as software development is becoming more complex. This provides us with a great opportunity – as our job is to take the complexity out of the equation.
This year, thanks to capital from Uruguay and Argentina, a software development business aimed at the agricultural market started operations in Uruguay. This business has an extremely interesting app that keeps track of soya cultivation. The app uses several devices and the latest technology to automatically capture all of the field’s data, something that was previously done manually, meter by meter. This is just one example of what we can achieve. I believe that technology is now being used in all areas; in the agro industry, in tourism, even in the financial sector. For us, as technology providers, there are more and more opportunities out there.