Eduardo Almeida, vice president and general manager of Unisys for Latin America. (Photo credit: Unisys)

Interview: LatAm Companies Are Focused on One Thing – Digital Strategy – Says Unisys Regional Head Eduardo Almeida

In recent years, Unisys has been pushing to expand its already significant position in Latin America. The Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based information technology and services company has been operating on some level for nearly a century in the region, which now accounts for around 10% of its global revenue.

Photo: Eduardo Almeida, vice president and general manager of Unisys for Latin America. (Credit: Unisys)

To support these efforts, particularly in terms of ramping up the adoption of smart technology and digital transformation efforts for its clients, the company recently appointed Eduardo Almeida as new vice president and general manager of Unisys for Latin America.

Based in São Paulo, the former Cisco and Genesys executive will be looking for growth in a variety both the public and private sectors in a number of different verticals. Big Data and analytics will continue to be large focus, and Unisys is pushing to get the message out about its automation, cognitive, and artificial intelligence-centric solutions.

To find out more, Loren Moss of Cognitive Business News recently sat down with Almeida to discuss the changing nature of technology and how Unisys is looking to bring more digital innovation to its customers in Latin America.

“In my recent meetings with customers here, they’re simply talking about one thing: digital strategy. They are asking, ‘How can I, as a company, improve my business, improve productivity, improve my customer experience?’ – Eduardo Almeida

Loren Moss: You come from companies like Cisco, which is a very impressive company that makes a lot of things and they make boxes. How are the challenges different at a services company like Unisys when it comes to really further establishing yourself in the market, winning new business, and talking to new customers? Is the message more complex or more challenging to deliver than in a hardware company, or even in a pure software company?

Eduardo Almeida: Well, it is simply different. By the way, I think it’s a great point, because a great company, even a relevant company playing a relevant game, has limitations, or roadblocks, with its customers.

When we talk about solutions, like analytics, for instance, in cloud service, we are talking about a core application to our customers. These are things that really change the way that customers do business nowadays. Now, at Unisys, we really talk with customers, and I have spoken with many of them.

In my recent meetings with customers here, they’re simply talking about one thing: digital strategy. They are asking, “How can I, as a company, improve my business, improve productivity, improve my customer experience, improve my business outcomes? How can I leverage e-business transformation strategy across the different organization levels.”

For a company like Unisys, we understand that we can do that, so we can support those customers in digital transition and support this by embracing digital change and digitalization strategies.

For a hardware infrastructure player, it’s more complicated. Because at the end of the day, even though this customer will rely on infrastructure applications, those applications are the most important things to them — not the infrastructure.

So I tend to believe that as a services/software and intelligence company — with a huge intellectual property asset — Unisys is more critical to its customers than a simple infrastructure vendor. This is the way I differentiate that. Of course, we rely on infrastructure companies to also help us by booting up the systems and for the software that will enable our customers to be more effective. But, you know, it’s a different ballgame indeed.

“We’ve been betting significant amounts of resources on our analytics and Big Data platforms. This is a key enabler to allow our customers to leverage their own applications, if you will, through cloud and infrastructure services.” – Eduardo Almeida

Loren Moss: Right, right. Now, let’s talk about some new technologies. Unisys is betting big on Internet of Things. There are other things out there that you’ve already mentioned, like machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), and deep analytics. Where does Unisys see the opportunity, and what is the value-add that Unisys can bring to its customers in adopting or implementing or supporting those types of new technologies?

Eduardo Almeida: So far, we’ve been betting significant amounts of resources on our analytics and Big Data platforms. This is a key enabler to allow our customers to leverage their own applications, if you will, through cloud and infrastructure services. By far, analytics and Big Data are not only the big trend but also recurring revenue to us.

We have cases of customers that are using these analytics solutions that Unisys brings. In one case in the financial sector, we have a bank that used analytics and Big Data to improve their credit evaluations, or ability to perform credit assessments to their customers. And, of course, they used this to offer new products and new solutions based on the credit analysis that they have.

When it comes to artificial intelligence, these are parts of the same enterprise solutions that Unisys offers to many customers. Now, you can play a different game depending on the vertical that we are inserted on. The usage would be different for a bank, but they would be the same that the government uses. For example, when we talk about smart cities and digitalization in communities, we talk about mobility and the pervasive use of sensors across the city connected to infrastructure. These will be analyzed by a solution that Unisys provides for the user to have a better experience of, for instance, finding a parking spot.

So, we’re investing a large amount of resources to develop solutions. We do have cases today, but to be honest with you, we need to communicate that better. We are really working hard to improve the knowledge around our solutions in the marketplace. As you know, Colombia plays a very important part of our business in the Latin American region, and most times we are not known well enough for our capacities and abilities to deploy such services. We need to communicate this better.

I would say that in the securities space, and we haven’t talked about that yet, this is growing very fast. We are seeing high two-digit growth in the security space across the region. As we start having more references in the region, of course customers will start considering Unisys as a relevant player in those franchises and we’ll be more present in some of the discussions they are having about technology trends.

Loren Moss: You’ve been talking about infrastructure and about how Unisys is providing services beyond infrastructure. We look now at the movement to the cloud, where there are three main global players out there with Microsoft, Google, and Amazon with AWS. What is Unisys’ strategy? Is the Unisys strategy to compete with those providers in that space or to provide services built upon one or more of those infrastructures? Does Unisys see those companies as competitors or as a platform providing tools that Unisys can then build services and solutions for customers upon?

Eduardo Almeida: They are definitely competitors in some spaces, and we compete with infrastructure companies like Cisco when it comes to security, for instance. But overall our environment is so diverse that sometimes we compete and we partner. We cooperate and we compete, right? Sometimes they are our customers, sometimes we are their customers. We have a very interesting landscape when you see how those companies behave among themselves. Sometimes, we’re going to compete.

“In the securities space, this is growing very fast. We are seeing high two-digit growth in the security space across the region.” – Eduardo Almeida

What we realize is that: Enterprise computing is big, and we also understand that enterprise customers want to have a certain level of flexibility. so what we see in the industry most of the time, are providers that have a very inflexible contract model in value proposition to customers. They’re not flexible enough. And we see that.

We want to believe that, at Unisys, we understand our customers’ business challenge and we have the ability to adapt. We’re not bringing connectivity or a cloud service that will be one-size-fits-all. We can adapt. We have a huge number of consultancies and they understand the business needs and the business challenges from other customers in the business verticals. We customize. We adapt those offers to support those business needs. I think this is the big differentiation.

Of course, to your point, when it comes to a more of maybe a “commodity” of connectivity or cloud-based service, probably you are going to compete because we do want to grow in this space, and we are not going to be behind. But we try to understand, and we try to position Unisys as a more trustworthy player to our customers.

Loren Moss: Last question: I think that one advantage of living there in the Southern Cone is that you’re closer to wine country. Are there any particular labels or viñas that you’re drinking this year that you would recommend that we maybe pick up if we can find?

Eduardo Almeida: Absolutely! We should have more time to talk about that whenever you go to Chile and Argentina. There are so many great wine producers there. And I will tell you something, when I joined Unisys —  I started October 2 — I decided to take a few days off in order to recharge my battery in Mendoza. On my trip to Mendoza, I had a quick pitstop in our office in Buenos Aires. I had meetings with the local people there, without even presenting myself. I just said, “I’m the new employee here, so tell me a little bit about what you guys do here.” It was so interesting, because they welcomed me as a big fan without knowing that I was becoming the new person responsible for operations, and I went to Mendoza. How familiar are you with Mendoza? Have you been there?

Loren Moss: That’s the heart of Malbec country. Their Malbec is as good as in Spain.

Eduardo Almeida: Yeah, exactly. They’re very good. I like the Viña Cobos producer very much. It belongs to a guy called Paul Hobbs, who is a great producer in California and who also has vineyards in Romania and he produces Mendoza. So Mendoza is good, and of course, Chile is in my heart in terms of wines. I like the carménere. Early in 2018, we’re going to get together here again to celebrate the New Year and we’re going to have a wine together here in Colombia.

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