Next week, Andicom returns to in-person mode after going virtual the previous year due to COVID. Andicom, organized by CINTEL, Colombia’s “Center for Investigation & Development in Information & Communications Technologies,” is the Andes region’s largest and most important event spanning the IT, telecom, software, & consulting sectors.
Before the event, Finance Colombia’s executive editor Loren Moss was able to speak briefly with CINTEL’s executive director, Manuel Martinez Niño regarding the decision to return to a face-to-face format, and what we can expect this year.
Finance Colombia: I am here with Manuel Martinez Niño, the Executive Director of Cintel. Cintel is the organizer of Andicom. I’d like to ask now that we’re here at the event launch of Andicom 2021: last year, Andicom 2020 was done in a virtual way, but we’re just back to face to face mode in Cartagena. Tell me about your experience during the last year and since this is one of the first big events that are happening face to face here in Colombia, was it a hard decision to go and do this, to decide to go and take the opportunity to make the event face to face event?
Manuel Martinez Niño: Yes, effectively the challenge was we did last year’s event, 2020, we did our event in a virtual way. It was a huge challenge and very complex after more than 30 face-to-face editions, and then jumping to this virtual way, which implied knowing the solutions, the infrastructure, the platforms that exist for this, the advantages and disadvantages of one compared to another, but even more complex was the reception of the attendees that usually attend the event. Despite that, we decided that Andicom has to always be presential. This year we have reached the 36th Edition, 36 years helping the economic development of the country through the ICT sector. We took a decision to do it [virtually], it went well, we had attendance of approximately 1500 people, which was good for the time, so virtuality works but it never replaces the face-to-face mode.
And it generated a challenge that we see today. When we say let’s do the 2021 face to face, there was joy in getting rid of this virtuality where, yes, it was good, but I don’t like to speak to a machine. The machine doesn’t feel, doesn’t gesture, doesn’t have an opinion, doesn’t empathize, the message was good or bad, so returning to face-to-face events, return to networking, with all the crew of the ICT industry, is really good, and in fact, the great reception we have had from the corporations with national and international organizations, the government, authorities, and others, it has generated a lot of pride for us, and also a lot of responsibility, because we have to have a space of the level we have always had, or a better one, which we have always had, and it’s a high level quality. The ITU, the International Communications Union, considers CINTEL, and Andicom, one of the best ICT academic business spaces of the world, as the UN organization also states, so we have that big challenge and to maintain the quality, we have to work together so through the ICTs the engine really generates more benefits, effectiveness and life quality for the society.
Finance Colombia: How has the reception of the big corporations and sponsors been that are here attending Andicom?
Manuel Martinez Niño: Really good, really good. They’re also exhausted of the virtuality. Despite that it has worked, and it has demonstrated that through the year and a half that we have been in the middle of this pandemic, When we announced that this year Andicom would be face to face, everyone was glad, because everyone wants to meet and greet their clients, in a face-to-face mode.
They have virtual meetings, but it’s not the same, we’re human beings and we’re used to talk between us, not through a machine, so the reception was really good and we’re very optimistic and also with a very high sense of responsibility that our space, as one of the biggest congresses in Colombia returning to face-to-face meetings.
Finance Colombia: The event always happens in Cartagena, which is the city that depends on international and business tourism, but Cartagena has also suffered a lot because of the closures of recreation and tourism. So what contribution does Andicom make to the economy of Colombia, specifically talking about Cartagena?
Manuel Martinez Niño: The coverage that we’re giving to the city of Cartagena in our space is huge. We affect approximately around 5.000 people between direct and indirect employment: call it hotels, call it restaurants, call it transportation, and other spaces that live from tourism and that by returning again to the city, they are refreshed, and we give dynamism to that social and economic development that Cartagena has, whose largest income comes from tourism. We’re in fact talking with the authorities of Cartagena, so we can do this together, do it well, especially having in mind the environment and current problem of the pandemic and be responsible, but also be conscious that the world continues and it’s continuing to move on, we have to move on.
Finance Colombia: Thank you so much Manuel, see you in Cartagena
Manuel Martinez Niño: Thanks to you. Very kind.