The Business Year

Hubert Arias

Country Director, Softland

Randall Quirós

General Manager, SAP

By using local market knowledge to create a product from scratch, digital firms operating in the Costa Rican market have the best of both worlds: elite technology catering to a compact and increasingly educated consumer base.

What main trends are coming to Costa Rica, and how can the government encourage entrepreneurship?

HUBERT ARIAS There is an urgent need to make changes to the education system. We must change the way children are educated, ensuring they think like entrepreneurs and not employees. We also need to close the gap between public and private education and create an incentive scheme for start-ups. Tax and social security exemptions could also be effective. At the end of the day, we need to encourage young people to be entrepreneurs and reduce the cost of starting a business in Costa Rica. As a chamber, we try to create the same environment for every type of business so that everyone plays by the same rules. At the same time, we try to defend the sector’s interests. In some cases, we have helped the sector navigate public policy issues like taxes or regulations. For instance, we successfully lobbied to change a law that banned filming animals. With industry 4.0 taking center stage across many sectors, the chamber is working hard to introduce training courses for AI and blockchain, among others.

RANDALL QUIRÓS Costa Rica is one of the major markets, which means that where emerging technologies are concerned, Costa Rica is one of the first markets adopting them. We have many new opportunities in the market within the context of digital transformation and AI, while managing big data and present numerous opportunities for the banking sector. In that regard, SAP has established a technology known as SAP Leonardo, which is an umbrella of these emerging technologies, featuring analytics, big data, block chain, machine learning, and AI. We are working with select companies to understand their needs and define the most appropriate solutions.

What is your current position in the market?

HA We are the leaders in our space, despite the fact that we have numerous foreign and domestic competitors. In terms of technology, Costa Rica is a global market, and we must compete at a global level. This is why we have partnered with smaller software companies; they produce software inputs that we then incorporate into our own software. This makes our technology ecosystem interesting and sets us apart from other firms. Our most important advantage is having direct contact with the manufacturer. We are able to understand exactly what the Latin American market wants, which allows us to ensure that the manufacturer perfectly executes the plan. Though Costa Rica is a tiny percentage of other countries’ revenue, it is our only focus. As such, we use our local market knowledge to create a product from scratch that is perfect for the Costa Rican market.

RQ SAP Costa Rica is part of SAP North, which includes Central America, Caribbean markets, Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador. We are a large piece of SAP North, which is around 40% of the market. In terms of the weight of SAP globally, it is a USD29 billion company, and our participation and share is important for the Latin American market. We also have great Business One technologies and excellent HANA solutions. We have a strong portfolio in Leonardo with emerging technologies and have excellent solutions in HANA. When it comes to big data, we are using HANA among others. Most of our revenue at the moment comes from that area. Of course, Central America is an emerging market, and ERP has its space, but we are not limiting the transformation to ERP, but looking for the rest of the solutions with the companies at hand.



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