Regional Focus: Accenture's View from: Brazil

Contributor: Robbie Westacott
Posted: 07/08/2014
Regional Focus: Accenture's View from: Brazil
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The Accenture "view from" series of blogs will take us to a different country each month, giving a light but enlightening insight into those markets' characteristics and daily challenges when it comes to implementing mobility across enterprises.

The World Cup's Connected Benefits

If there's one thing the World Cup has highlighted, it's that the Brazilian people love to talk, connect, and share our experiences with each other. So it's probably not a surprise that as a country, we are the third largest user of Facebook in the world. According to ComScore, we spend more time on that social network than our Argentinian and Mexican neighbours spend on the whole of the internet combined! We also spend time on business-focused sites though, with our second most visited social network being LinkedIn. As the worldã??s fifth biggest internet user, Brazil is rapidly working to catch up on our fixed connections with mobile access to the internet, but this isnã??t without its challenges.

Brazil is an enormous country (over 8.5 million square kilometres, and the world's fifth largest nation by size and population), with startling degrees of variation between our regions in terms of connectivity and the quality of living, not to mention some challenging terrain when it comes to building infrastructure. To do business successfully across the country, it's imperative to take a regional view, as a 'one size fits all' approach will simply not work here. In major cities like Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, we have 3G coverage in 98% of areas, and thanks to government initiatives linked to the World Cup, every city where a game was played now also has 4G LTE, helping Brazilians to connect to the internet on their mobiles.

The mobile network operators (MNOs), of which we have four major and relatively equal players in the market, are also tasked by the government with building 4G networks in any city with over 500,000 people, so we will rapidly see our mobile network speeds increase, and the use of mobiles for internet access with them.

Data: As Much, or as Little, as is Needed

With so many improvements to be made on the networks, the MNOs are having to invest millions of Brazilian Reais, and these costs need to be recouped. Smartphones are a great opportunity for MNOs to increase use of their networks for more expensive data transactions, rather than voice, and we're seeing some new models spring up to encourage people to wave goodbye to their feature phones and pick up a smartphone instead.

Not only are smart devices heavily subsidised by MNOs, but data can be purchased in bundles to suit the user - even if that's just for one day if the costs are too high for more. For those people who pre-pay for a monthly allowance of, say, a Gigabyte, instead of cutting users off or charging large amounts when the limit is reached, telcos simply provide slower and limited access. This allows people to continue to use popular low-bandwidth apps such as WhatsApp, but means that streaming video is no longer an option.

We also have partnerships appearing between different industries and telcos to help encourage more data use. Magazine Luiza, one of our major retailers, will sell its customers a SIM card that allows free access to a popular site such as Facebook. Customer data is then shared with them as well as their telco partner, and in the coming years I expect to see significant increases in mobile payments in Brazil, at which point this improved relationship between retailers and telcos will no doubt become more valuable than ever. Now, the focus in Brazil needs to be on reaching interoperability standards for a mobile commerce ecosystem, as well as seeing some changes to our tax system that will make it more likely providers can successfully offer these new services to customers.

Unexpected Consequences of Enterprise Mobility

Brazil is a rapidly maturing market in terms of mobility, but in business we are learning from those countries that have gone before us about how best to implement mobile devices and applications to improve our collaboration and productivity. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a big thing for us, but most people will tell you that they only use their own phones to check work emails as other apps aren't available, and corporate-owned devices tend to only be provided to high-ranking executives. As the business case for BYOD starts to be better understood here, we expect to see an increase in the provision of business apps for mobile, including tools for workflow approvals and remote reporting; and with that an increase in mobile device management solutions.

One area where Brazilian organisations have really taken advantage of mobility to increase productivity, particularly in the utilities and telco sectors, is with sales force and field forces. Many companies started years ago, and are now switching from older PDA devices to smartphones and tablets that make it easier to collaborate and update reports in real time.

Sometimes this can have an unusual effect in Brazil: One company with a workforce of 8,000 skilled labourers was apprehensive about introducing high-end tablets to their work force. Partly, they were worried that as most employees were not highly-educated, they might struggle to use the delivery order application designed for them, but there was also a concern around the high street value of the devices. Once rolled out though, the company found not only better productivity through use of the app, but greater pride amongst the workforce in working for their company and in being trusted with the devices, and a real jump in motivation thanks to the empowerment that came with this new technology.

Down the Road for Brazil

While the current tax system is one of the major challenges to be overcome in Brazil for new mobility services to really take off, we are already making moves towards machine-to-machine communications (M2M). Our 2G networks have been diverted to serve M2M for the most part, and the government is working with industries to solve tax issues that are delaying innovation.

It is likely that we'll start to see new solutions developed for logistics early on, as costs in Brazil are extremely high - we are a very large country with very few methods of transportation, so companies are crying out for technology that will help lower costs. Traceability is key for agribusiness, and we expect temperature control and other sensor-led M2M, and specially designed apps to come into use both for food and healthcare transportation in the near future.

In the meantime, tools such as mobile barcode scanners and RFID readers still have an important role to play in the industry. In consumer vehicles, connectivity and telematics is already a reality. Up to 80% of car adverts today are focused on connectivity ahead of any other feature; infotainment, connected navigation, safety and security are at the top of the list of any consumer when looking to purchase a car in Brazil.

In Brazil, regional disparities in connectivity need to be addressed, but thereã??s a widely-held view that mobility will help to drive this, and then, in turn, help to drive equality of opportunity across the whole of the country. Taking all this opportunity presented by mobility into account, even though the World Cup didn't go quite as planned for us, it's a very exciting time to be a Brazilian!

This article was written by Renato Improta, Managing Director of LATAM and Mobility Lead for Accenture Mobility, as part of the regional 'view from' series.

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Thank you, for your interest in Regional Focus: Accenture's View from: Brazil.
Contributor: Robbie Westacott