"In Brazil, banking systems are too old, so the market needs to start moving"

Friday, June 24, 2011

Axxiome, a Swiss IT firm that works jointly with SAP and specializes in IT implementations for the banking segment, launched operations in the Americas in 2006. It is now in the process of opening additional offices in Latin America.

To find out more about the company's plans for this year, BNamericas spoke with the firm's regional manager, Alberto Garda.

BNamericas: How did the company get started in Latin America, and what's the regional operation's current size?

Garda: We initially launched in the Americas region in 2006, as the Axxiome academy in Uruguay. Now we have approximately 80 SAP consultants in the Americas.

BNamericas: Considering your operations in both Europe and the Americas, what is the revenue contribution of the latter region?

Garda: Last year, the regional operation accounted for approximately 30% of the company's overall revenues. This year, the Americas region will account for 50% of total revenues.

Axxiome's regional revenues reached US$8mn last year. Our estimation for this year is that our operations in the region will bill approximately US$20mn.

BNamericas: Which countries are you currently operating in? Are you planning to expand to other markets across the region with field offices?

Garda: We currently have presence in Uruguay, Miami, Argentina and Canada. In Argentina we launched our operation in 2007, and we now have 25 SAP consultants in our Buenos Aires office. In Canada, where we have one of the largest projects in the Americas region, we have 45 SAP consultants. We don't have a field office there yet, but we're in the process of opening one.

We also operate in Mexico, without an office there yet. But we've already won a large project in this market, so we also plan to set up an office this year.

BNamericas: And what about Brazil? Do you have presence in this market?

Garda: We're working on that. In Brazil we already have a number of consultants and are planning to open our office in the coming months - initially in São Leopoldo, in Rio Grande do Sul state, as we have a project there with SAP. SAP has a global delivery center in that city.

We're also aiming to open another office in the city of São Paulo during 2011. Our office there will focus exclusively on sales, while our office in São Leopoldo will be more operational.

BNamericas: Could you describe the main projects the company is involved with in the region?

Garda: I can comment on that, but I can't provide our client's names. We only focus on the banking segment. We're a boutique firm that specializes only in banking modules.

In Argentina we're working with SAP on a project for one of the largest banks in the country. In Canada, we're also working on one of the largest banking projects in this market, also in association with SAP. In Europe we're working on large banking projects in the UK and Germany. These are our main projects globally. Then we're also involved in smaller projects in the Americas and Europe.

BNamericas: Once Axxiome and SAP start a large project for a bank, how long is the installation cycle?

Garda: An average installation process has a cycle of about three years. However, this depends on the client's needs. For example, our client in Argentina decided to start the project at a slow pace.

BNamericas: How many new medium-size or large projects are you expecting to sign in the Americas this year?

Garda: This year is already closed in terms of new projects. For next year, we believe that the US and Brazilian markets will start to move for us. In Brazil, banking systems are too old, so the market needs to start moving. In the Americas region, we expect to start working on at least two large projects during 2012.

BNamericas: In which countries across the region are you seeing more obsolete banking systems, and where are the systems more modern?

Garda: The most modern systems are in Chile. In other countries, the banks' systems have been modernized with new layers, but they didn't replace the old systems. The economic crisis suffered by the region also affected the replacement of banking systems.

However, it's important to highlight that US banking systems are even more obsolete compared to Latin America.

BNamericas: In some markets where you operate, such as Argentina and Uruguay, IT firms are suffering from a lack of qualified human resources. Is this also affecting Axxiome? What are you doing to avoid or overcome this obstacle?

Garda: Yes, we have this problem in Latin America. This is why when we launched our regional operation, we also launched an academy where we train our people in SAP technology and banking.

We usually hire people coming from the IT industry but who aren't familiar with SAP technology, or people who are familiar with SAP but don't know the banking segment. We have a virtual academy to train our employees. The courses last about nine weeks.

We're currently training people in Argentina.

About the company

Axxiome offers advice and solutions in the areas of core banking and core insurance, with a strong focus on SAP solutions. The company provides services for solutions that manage customer information, deposits, loans, collateral and master contracts, as well as for leasing and payment channel integration.