Q&A: Building Latin American Businesses on Microsoft .NET

BOCA RATON, Fla., April 24, 2002 — The Microsoft Enterprise Solutions Conference (ESC) 2002, taking place April 24-26 in Boca Raton, Fla., gathers Latin American business leaders in search of proven technologies that are innovative and have practical, real-world applications.

The most renowned players of the technology industry will come together to discuss critical business and technology challenges facing Latin American enterprises. Microsoft partners Accenture, Compaq, HP and Unisys are participating in support of Microsoft’s enterprise vision and commitment to the development of agile and flexible enterprise solutions.

PressPass spoke with Mauricio Santillan, Microsoft vice president of the Intercontinental Region, to discuss the new digital economy, the importance of Latin American businesses and how the Microsoft .NET platform offers solutions for enterprises and partners.

PressPass: What is the value of ESC for large Latin American companies?

Santillan: There are several trends. The most important one is that companies wish to learn about the real benefits offered by the Microsoft .NET strategy. This forum is a unique opportunity to demonstrate concrete stories of .NET architecture implementation in the region. Additionally, this sector is very interested in security aspects, including the way a virus enters a system and how hackers gain access to their network. Thus, we want to communicate the message that computers are safe; they are important assets that protect information from strangers.

ESC will also demonstrate the scalability and reliability provided by our products, particularly in the server area. We have identified some very concrete reference accounts in the region, which demonstrate the scalability level offered by Windows 2000 and the entire group of servers.

Also, this forum is a good opportunity for them to discuss industry challenges with colleagues.

Steve Ballmer, our CEO, will be present at the event, as well as strategic partners such as Compaq, HP, Unisys and Accenture. The forum will also feature speeches from a variety of customers, who will share their successful experience with the implementation of a specific technology.

PressPass: What is the importance of Latin American partners and what benefits do alliances offer to corporate customers in the region?

Santillan: This is the year of the partner.

Designing, implementing and supporting solutions for enterprise customers requires relationships and alliances with global solutions partners who have complementary business applications and consulting and services experience in the enterprise. These firms enhance the enterprise credibility of the Microsoft platform and provide us with a complete solution offering for our mutual customers.

Solving a customer’s technology problem is a big concept that includes service, support, development, configuration, training, etc. As partners become stronger, our offerings for customers will be more comprehensive.

PressPass: This is the ESC event’s ninth year. How has the enterprise, partner and solution markets evolved?

Santillan: I had the opportunity to participate in the first ESC conference nine years ago, and the evolution has been tremendous. We started from product demos to focusing on the business value we offer companies through technology solutions and partner solutions.

Speeches have also changed. At the beginning, we used to invite systems managers with a more technical background to evaluate if a product was faster than another. Today, we invite business and technology decision makers as well as systems managers to analyze a technology’s value to the enterprise as a whole. This is definitely a more complete vision with more sophisticated speeches, VIPS and attendees.

PressPass: How important are the Latin American businesses for Microsoft?

Santillan: In spite of the political and economical problems that we have experienced in Latin America, this is one of the few regions where the company believes sales can be doubled in only five years. The room for growth is enormous.

Microsoft also wants to continue investing in human resources and marketing. The type of investment we make is similar to bCentral — new projects that eventually create community benefits, services or business.

We offer a wide range of solutions. We are a platform-oriented company, specifically focused on offering value and innovative solutions in conjunction with our partners. The product doesn’t need to be 3 times faster, but it does need to provide value for the business, its customers and the market.

PressPass: What technology innovations will Microsoft offer Latin American companies during the remainder of the year?

Santillan: The most significant is the recent launch of Visual Studio .NET, which acts like a valve that provides the energy and code needed to develop next-generation applications. Our main objective is to prove that this technology can work in a faster, more efficient and enhanced way.

PressPass: How will Microsoft respond to the piracy challenges in Latin America?

We are planning on launching campaign in Mexico and Brazil. Our anti-piracy campaigns are closely related to education, and we aim to make governments aware that such campaigns will benefit their countries through tax payments, job creation, etc. Licensing plans enable you to establish a long-term relationship with customers. Our objective is to provide a normal licensing scheme by promoting the areas where customers can obtain many more benefits.

PressPass: What have been the most significant advances of the bCentral project in Latin America?

Santillan: The major advance was that we developed a product customized to meet the needs of small enterprises. Our investment is on the right track and we are within budget — a real challenge for a new company.

The technology was developed in Mexico with the contribution of the Argentina group. We are very proud because the company adopted this technology and is now becoming part of the Business Solutions organization, which intends to launch this type of solution worldwide. I am very pleased to say that the effort in Latin America was accepted by the development group in the U.S., which will support its promotion on a worldwide basis.

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