Critical communications in Latin America: preparing for the next big change
In this taster for the October edition of Critical Communications Today magazine, editor Philip Mason talks to Motorola Solutions’ new vice president for Latin America, Alex Castañeda, about the challenges presented by the region
As vice president, I’m responsible for all Motorola Solutions’ sales, service support and system integration for Latin America.
I started with Motorola out of college, and spent a good chunk of the first part of my career in North America, working mostly with data. That included private data networks, command and control solutions, in-car video, as well as two-way radio communications.
Following that initial nine-year period, I moved into a global role where I was designing and implementing channel programmes, as well as the operational systems sitting behind them. I then moved to Latin America to run the channel business, which included two-way radio, wireless broadband and mobile devices for enterprise businesses.
I left the company for almost four years to work with Zebra Technologies, running Latin America for them, as well as their North American channel and SMB businesses. I came back to Motorola about a year ago.
How has the Latin American market changed since you left and came back?
Latin America is still a very exciting place in which to operate. It seems like every three years or so, there is significant political or economic change that impacts countries across the region.
The current issue, of course, is COVID-19, which is not just affecting the region but the entire world. That’s clearly going to have a considerable impact going forward, not just in terms of health but also from an economic standpoint.
The impact of the pandemic is pretty deep, and it’s going to take a while to get back to normal. Many countries around the world are expected to rebound quickly once the COVID-19 crisis is over, but in my opinion, the rebound in Latin America will be a bit slower and might take more time.
What are the immediate knock-on effects from a business point of view?
As governments around the world are focusing on facing the COVID-19 emergency, spending and investment priorities shift towards dealing with the pandemic.
At the same time, there are region-specific factors such as the price of commodities and oil. Brazil, Mexico and Colombia are all big oil-producing countries, and if the oil price is down, that impacts their economy and spending behaviour.
In the short term, this could lead to less investment from organisations and people into the region. That causes capital to be taken out, which in turn affects the value of local currencies.
How is Motorola Solutions addressing that as a company? What’s your strategy going forward?
We are seeing opportunities in the region, and we’re continuing to do business. For instance, recently, Petrobras – which is one of the big oil producers in Brazil – chose to invest in our MOTOTRBO technology. We are currently rolling out the solution to 30 of their oil platforms.
In terms of business development going forward, we are looking at how to deploy our resources more effectively across the region. To be successful in Latin America, you’ve got to be committed, close to your customer and understand the specific requirements for the specific country and market.
Returning to the subject of government investment, we do still see technology investment, simply because there’s such a need for mission-critical communications across Latin America. The one sector where we’re seeing less spending in technology is in tourism and hospitality which, as you can imagine, has been struggling during the pandemic.
As I said earlier, Latin America remains an exciting and special place to be.
Read the complete interview in the forthcoming October edition of Critical Communications Week.
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Editor, Critical Communications Portfolio
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