Author: Celso Kleber

Every headline on business and news websites. It is the fact that the Brazilian government has adjusted the GNP forecast during 2020 from 2.1% to zero

There is a curious expression in popular journalism: ‘No news is good news’, which essentially means that no news is a good sign. This saying has never been so relevant as it is today. Here is the bad news; every headline on business and news websites. It is the fact that the Brazilian government has adjusted the GNP forecast during 2020 from 2.1% to zero. Furthermore, the World Bank forecasts a 5% retraction for our economy. This is due to the Coronavirus’ impact on the productive sector, wealth, employment and income generating center.

It is expected that the Ministry of the Economy will ascertain the right reaction. Macro and micro economy challenges will be considerable and the Brazilian businessman, the one with reserves acquired through time, will be asked to participate in this recovery effort. Meanwhile we should, as strategy and management professionals, pave the way for private sector leadership in this crisis. 

Unlike other crises, the current situation means private companies must be ready to trigger economic growth. Some facts support this statement. If the government knows how to provide incentives accurately to businessmen, employment will recover quicker and companies will be able to invest efficiently and to scale provided that things get better. More capable companies – the ones who are prepared to find solutions during this time – will seize this moment more effectively.

Therefore, one of the essential tools in our recovery will be information technology, which creates incredibly potential for the transformation of companies whether by revitalizing legacy systems or by offering disruptive solutions that provide efficiency, sales and a better experience to the customer. The last few years were very demanding on the IT sector.    

Understanding consumers’ behavior, which has proven to be increasingly dynamic and demanding, requires digitalization and an eagerness for agile solutions. The companies that provide products and services in a proper channel and with fair prices will stand out when this crisis ends. It might be the after-crisis survival kit.

However, there is a powerful bottleneck in this process. The IT market faces a historical lack of talent. In Brazil, for instance, ten lawyers graduate for each engineer each year. At this point, even the quarantine can provide opportunities. Institutions, S System and technical schools are providing free online qualification courses that can better prepare current applicants or qualify new applicants in this field.

In summary, the equation is complex. In addition to courage and faith, we will need government measures, scarcity management and planning. After all, as the legendary jazz musician and pianist Duke Ellington said, “Problems are opportunities to show what one knows.”

The banks that have adapted have already understood that IT has become a company’s main business, as it attracts new customers (whether current bank account holders or not), increases revenues and reduces costs. If we evaluate the potential for brand perception in the market, digitalization means a company is more attractive to customers. The more innovative, the higher its attraction power to partners and further business.

For larger and more traditional banks, this posed an important challenge as they work off of heavy legacy systems subject to strong regulation by the Central Bank. These regulations are often older and based on several specific updates with regard to mergers and acquisitions over the last decades.

In a brief survey, I found 90 financial institutions that ceased to exist in the last 20 years, most of them acquired or merged. This has been deeply relevant for the IT market for years, however as acquisitions occurred quickly, legacy systems were more impacted with updates.

In a country where the five largest banks possess 80% of assets and where approximately 65% of transactions are already performed through digital channels, extremely severe impacts to the infrastructure, to operations, and to the back office were seen in the last few years.

Another relevant point to be highlighted are fintechs. As the operations of major retailers grew (and became more expensive), startups rose as a successful business model with high attractiveness and low operational costs. At a certain point, it became evident that larger companies could overtake smaller ones, however the faster ones could not be contained. Banks could no longer ignore this ecosystem.

Within this complex scenario, companies tend to aim at cost balance towards investment rerouting. In recent IDC global consulting on ICT market in Brazil, it was highlighted that 2018 is the year for IT investments to reduce operational cost and to improve productivity.

Integrators with a capacity to offer full solutions stand out in this competitive market as fintechs become increasingly present. Considering that Resource IT has introduced in the last CIAB (Latin America’s greatest even with regard to bank technology) a digital subscription solution.

If the agreement has already been signed digitally, part of the storage chain is eliminated providing more efficiency and productivity to these institutions. It is based on the main customer pillars: security, high availability, cost/benefit ratio and legal support.

Thousands of agreements are still signed on paper, collected by expert companies for document custody and then digitized and stored for at least five years upon its settlement. If you consider a real estate loan, there are numerous years’ worth of stored agreements. Digitalization via scanner generates larger files that occupy more storage megabytes.

Our solution foresees signature acknowledgment (graphometric), biometric authentication (finger or face print) and tokenization as viable options. Voice biometry has also become an option for telemarketing operations.

It is worth noting that everything depends on successful diagnostic and customer requirements. Our role is consulting, thus, supporting and directing the customer to the best solution as the main goal. It has to add to this package a significant added value: passion. This soft skill makes a crucial difference.