By Gert Findel
Anyone who’s been paying attention to Latin America lately knows that the region has been making waves in the global tech arena. Just to mention a few, countries like Brazil and Colombia have been emerging as hubs for product development for the United States market. Some even dare speculate that LatAm’s innovation potential is beginning to rival that of Asia.
The LatAm-U.S. connection can drive business innovation through diverse perspectives and foster sustainable growth opportunities. Over the course of 2023, U.S. companies have ramped up their year-over-year hiring in Latin America by a staggering 50%.
This trend is a testament to the growing reliance of the U.S. on Latin American skills to develop its new products. In 2022 there was a year-over-year increase of 161% in recruitment — primarily consisting of tech workers — across the region.One thing is for sure: The region’s potential for innovation has been overlooked for years. But the question I’m interested in is: How can a tech-forward Latin America evolve into a hotbed for U.S.-oriented product development?
The definitive driving factors
In this era of fast-paced tech innovation, the transformation of Latin American markets has been driven mainly by three pillars: the region’s pioneering projects in digital payments, its exciting super app ecosystem, and its vast and underrated reservoir of user data.
- The digital payments revolution: A tremendous driver of LatAm’s potential lies in its continuous innovation in pioneering initiatives such as Brazil’s real-time payment system, Pix, and Colombia’s super app Treinta.
- The super app big opportunity: Latin America ranks second only to China in the development of super apps, applications that offer a wide array of services within a single platform. With a high smartphone penetration rate, LatAm serves as an ideal testing ground for super app concepts.
- The abundance of user data: The expansive user base across Latin America provides an invaluable source of data for companies looking to refine their product-market fit. The vast array of insights gained from diverse consumer behaviors equips companies with a competitive edge when expanding into the U.S. market.
Show me the benefits
All stakeholders involved, especially American companies dealing with shortages of highly skilled tech talent, are facing an opportunity to gain many advantages, including:
A competitive edge: American companies can gain competitiveness by leveraging the region’s technological advancements. The insights gained from LatAm’s digital payment innovations, super app development, and user data analysis position the region’s talent to create a testing ground for products that could align with U.S. consumer preferences.
A cross-cultural synergy: The collaboration between LatAm and the U.S. fosters deep cross-cultural exchange, enriching the pool of ideas and solutions between America and the different Latin American markets.
A job-creating machine: The growth of LatAm’s tech ecosystem translates into increased job opportunities, economic stability and overall regional development. American companies can take advantage of this outcome to make U.S.-oriented product development gain traction in the region, as it propels a set of highly skilled labor.
The Latin American connection for U.S.-oriented product development will mark a transformative moment in the global tech landscape. As LatAm continues to evolve as a tech-forward powerhouse, further collaboration between the region and the United States holds the key to fostering innovation that wouldn’t happen otherwise. The opportunity is there, it’s up to us to bet on it.
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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