Over a two-day period in December, Cali hosted Softic 2019, an international software business conference organized by Fedesoft, Procolombia and the Ministry of Information Technology (MinTIC). This marked the beginning of a new renaissance in the Colombian software industry. This Latin American country is rapidly emerging as a leading software producer in its region.
In the Pacific Valley, center of events, Softic gathered more than 60 buyers from Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Dominican Republic and the United States.
Custom application development, cloud computing, cyber security, Internet of Things, augmented reality and artificial intelligence were some of the most sought after services.
Buyers will have nearly 1,100 business appointments with 100 Colombian exporters from 10 departments, including Valle del Cauca, Cundinamarca and Antioquia.
For the Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, José Manuel Restrepo, “the realization of this event not only represents a boost to business tourism for a city like Cali, but because it translates into more opportunities for this kind of services, a sector that is part of the policy we have in terms of foreign trade.
The Minister of ICT, Sylvia Constaín, said that “in the national government we are working on strengthening the software and information technology industries that are enabling for all areas of the economy.
This event was supported by the Government of Valle del Cauca, the Mayor’s Office of Santiago de Cali, the Chamber of Commerce of Cali and the Cali Valle Bureau.
Colombia Starts to Stand Out as a LATAM Software Leader
In 2011, in an essay entitled ‘Why Software is Eating the World’, Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, wrote: “We are in the midst of a vast and profound process of change in which ‘software’ companies will take over large sectors of the economy.
Just seven years later, the most valuable companies in retail, hospitality, urban transportation and other industries are essentially software companies, as are the world’s five largest firms by market capitalization.
Not surprisingly, Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft, states that today “all companies are software companies. He refers to the fact that they should all be conceived as digital signatures, which not only automate processes and operations and interact with customers and suppliers through virtual channels, but also take control of their data flows and “digital destiny” to transform their efficiency, performance and value propositions.
In the last 15 years, Colombia has made a significant leap in building prosperity and reducing poverty. But it did so mainly on the basis of incorporating more people into the labour market and increasing capital investment. This strategy is already borderline. To make the leap to a true middle-class economy, the country must move from a model based on ‘perspiration’ to one guided by ‘inspiration’, and for this, the key is software.
According to data from Fedesoft, the software industry in Colombia comprises 6,096 companies with a turnover of 13.5 trillion pesos a year, grew at an extraordinary average annual rate of 16.7 percent over the last six years, and represents 1.6 percent of GDP. These companies, 90 percent of which are micro and small and 40 percent of which are five years old or less, employ 109,000 people; and the union estimates that the sector has 45,000 vacancies. There is no industry with greater capacity to offer quality job opportunities for the long term, and in turn, with greater potential for inclusion. In the world of software, levers and titles have little weight; the ability to program prevails.
But beyond the immense attraction and potential of the industry as such, what is more captivating are the broad positive ‘externalities’ it generates for society. A vibrant and robust software industry is the indispensable lever for the digital transformation of the entire productive fabric and even of the state, academia and other social organizations. Furthermore, international experience indicates that software companies are an exceptional source of new ventures. In Cali, for example, there are more than a dozen software companies founded by former collaborators of Open, one of the city’s most prominent firms, with a 31-year track record. For all these reasons, this chain deserves special attention and promotion.
Thanks to the leadership of the software companies in our region (we have 4 among the top 10 in the country, among many others), from November 28th to 30th we will have, for the first time in Cali, Softic, the most important commercial meeting of the Software & IT sector in the country, organized by Fedesoft and Procolombia, with the support of Mintic, the Cali City Hall, the Valle Government and the Chamber of Commerce. In the 2017 version, 80 international buyers from 24 countries and 160 Colombian companies exporting software and digital content met in Bogotá, generating business expectations of USD 72 million. After the resounding success of Heroes Fest, Cali will have the opportunity to once again showcase itself as an exceptional platform for 21st century business.