When the company I started in the mid-1980s turned 30 years old, I realized that, while the journey to this point has been rewarding, the future scenario is even more inspiring. Recently, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released the report “Why Multilatinas Hold the Key to America’s Economic Future” on the importance of Latin American multinational companies and the economic future of the continent.
They listed the 100 most-important companies in terms of growth and profitability in Latin America. Stefanini is among this select group as the only Brazilian technology company. The study points out that it is possible to navigate turbulence, identify new business opportunities and transform.
This is precisely what we are doing—transforming ourselves to help our clients with the challenges of their digital transformation. In this transformation process, we defined, at the beginning of this year, a new purpose for our company. In an exercise that connected more than 450 leaders in several countries in which we operate, we have created a dynamic of co-creation that has brought to the forefront the essence of what we propose to accomplish together with our clients and society in general: to co-create solutions for a better future.
We understand that in order to align with the changes in society, we need companies that position themselves as innovators, developing solutions that contribute to changes in social impact, valuing both people and new technologies. And while technologies are important for the evolution of society, digital transformation is, in fact, a cultural transformation that begins in the mind of the executive and extends to all of the people in the organization.
As Professor Felipe Monteiro of Insead—Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires, one of the world’s leading business schools—said, the first challenge comes even before the change begins, as leadership needs to have the courage to face this inevitable journey.
Basically, it is a dive into the unknown because you can not predict all of the steps that will follow. “The CEO needs to be comfortable with a complex issue: he does not know exactly where he’s going to end up, but he knows he needs to start moving. You cannot wait to be 100 percent sure that everything will work,” explains the teacher.
Probably most of the 100 companies mentioned in the BCG report took this dip into the growth mindset to gain a prominent place associated with the drive for mergers and acquisitions. According to the consulting firm, multi-brand stock prices that are “serial buyers” have risen nearly 70 percent from 2009 to 2017, about ten times more than for other frequent Latin American buyers. Several other important reasons that these companies have succeeded are due to their ability to connect with consumers, manage value chains despite difficult regulatory and fiscal environments while innovating and cultivating talent.
The Key to the Future
The BCG report looked at 5,000 companies with operations in the region and more than $1 billion in revenue. According to the survey, the multilatinas demonstrate that a resilient private sector is one of the largest assets in Latin America, contributing significantly to productivity, investment, innovation and job creation. This optimistic scenario generates some interesting insights into how we can transform our business.
Collaboration with Customers
The study shows that one of the factors attributed to the success of multilatinas is the strength in building a relationship of trust and collaboration with customers. Customer-centric strategies allow consumers to engage, from product development to the impact of their opinions in the digital world.
I translate this view into the concept of co-creation. This term gained momentum in 2004 in the book “The Future of Competition,” written by C.K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy, and its vision is greater than simple customer centricity. Co-creation is the exercise of adding together forces, companies and customers to innovate with an experience that involves the consumer. In a more collaborative world, technology is an alliance with business challenges, and only in one co-creation exercise can we use it to achieve greater results.
In this collaborative world, the concept of innovation networks gains strength through the connection among companies, research and development centers, incubators, universities, research institutes and the government itself. This forms an ecosystem that enhances the ability to create solutions. I believe in this model, and so we have developed a complete network of partners working together. This “garage” allows us to try solutions and become an extension of knowledge to our customers.
Empowering People to Expand Talent
I really believe that digital transformation is a transformation of people. Automation, artificial intelligence and other technologies do not change reality, since creativity is a human capacity which can only be developed through the exchange of knowledge and integration between people. In BCG’s report, this is one of the success factors of the companies listed. Imagine the potential that exists when we add more than 25,000 minds of Stefanini employees to the thousands of our customers in a collaborative knowledge network.
This intellectual capital is the greatest asset we can build together. It is also the key to overcoming the challenges of modern transformation. This message has been in alignment with our purpose since its inception, when we brought together people from all over the world in a co-creation exercise. The sum of everyone’s insights generates exponential paths.
A Better Future
All of these points show the commitment that companies have in building this inspiring future. The growth in the use of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, analytics, blockchain and 3D printing, reveals a bigger world where people can create more, explore more and accomplish more. It is a world of abundance, where more and more connections and integrations will allow innovation. Therefore, I think it’s pertinent to spread our purpose, in accordance to the yearnings of the modern world.
Since 1987, when I started Stefanini, I’ve been looking for ways to create lasting partnerships focused on collaborative development. And today, more than ever, I see this idea is consolidated and true. We want, from now on, more people to join us to co-create solutions for a better future. The innovative future we want can only be developed if we walk together, transforming ourselves in order to transform the world.