Interview: Unisys Is Looking for More Ways to Support Colombian Companies as They Grow into Multilatinas
U.S.-based information technology company Unisys has made its name offering services, software, and technology solutions in a host of industries. To further expand upon its wide array of business in Colombia, executives from the firm recently gathered at the Asobancaria conference in Cartagena.
Among other ventures, Unisys was there to launch its new banking solution Elevate. The offering, an onmichannel platform that aims to improve the customer experience, is one of a host of products and services the company is offering as it tries to play a larger role in the Colombian market, where more and more firms are looking beyond their borders.
“More companies in Colombia right now are becoming mutlilatinas, and we are identifying many more opportunities to provide those global solutions,” Carlos Ferrer, head of Unisys in Latin America, told Finance Colombia.
To offer more details about this shifting mentality in Colombia, the Elevate platform, and financial sector security, Ferrer recently sat down with Loren Moss, executive editor of Finance Colombia.
Photo: Loren Moss of Finance Colombia (left) speaks with Eric Crabtree (center) and Carlos Ferrer (right) of Unisys during the Asobancaria 2017 conference in Colombia. (Credit: Loren Moss)
Loren Moss: What are the challenges that banks in Colombia face that banks in North America or Europe don’t necessarily face?
Carlos Ferrer: In general, most of the banks and financial institutions — even though they have different levels of maturity in different markets — have the same kinds of challenges, strategies, and objectives.
So, I don’t see a major difference within the challenges that the financial industry or entities face in Colombia than what we see in other markets. I’m responsible for Latin America, and I see pretty much the same kinds of issues in Brazil, in Argentina, in Chile, in Mexico, in Venezuela, and in other countries.
The main differences are levels of maturity in the market, the banking penetration levels, and some differences in terms of regulation in different countries that you always have. But at the end of the day, the banks and the financial institutions get used to those requirements and organize the way they operate to be successful in those markets.
Our challenge is to bring a solution that can help them grow in whatever region they are in, facing whatever situation they have to face — regulatory, political, or economic. So we are always offering things to help clients improve their costs and improve their operational efficiency. We are offering things to lead to a better customer experience, to simplify the processes, to help them grow, and to increase revenue and profits. Every bank has the same issues, and we support all of that.
Loren Moss: At Asobancaria last month, Unisys announced a new product that’s now available in Colombia called Elevate. Why is Colombia a good market for it and what does it solve for banks?
Carlos Ferrer: So really what Elevate does, if we try to present that very simply, is allow the banks and the banking industry to deliver services with the same level of customer experience across all the channels. But at the same time it allows them to customize the way they go to every specific group of customers.
So, you can create the same kind of experience for a 50-, 60-, or 70-year-old person who still loves to go to the office and talk to a clerk that you do with a young millennial that is doing everything on a tablet or a mobile device. You give everyone a set of options, so you can be very strategic in the way that you present your products to different target clients, allowing every target client to use products in the way that they feel most comfortable.
It’s not forcing everybody to be mobile. It’s not forcing everybody to go to the office. It’s having all the variety available for all of your customers — but at the same time giving everyone the same kind of experience. So, if someone wants to use different channels, they will have exactly the same experience in all of those channels. And that’s unique. No financial institution in Colombia right now can offer something like that to their clients. Elevate by Unisys enables that possibility for the banks.
Loren Moss: Colombian enterprises have traditionally been slower to become multinationals than those in other more mature market economies, like say Mexico or Brazil. But we’re starting to see that change. Argos is now competing globally. Bancolombia now owns banks in Central America. How important is it for those Colombian companies — banking companies — to be able to obtain support infrastructure from companies like Unisys that are global in nature? Is that becoming more and more of a factor as those companies become multinationals? Having service providers that also have a multinational footprint?
Carlos Ferrer: Yeah. What it creates is a different set of opportunities in the market. Because when you go to a market — it could be in Colombia or any other country in the world — you have some clients that are just local. And you compete with global providers but you also compete with some local providers. Usually the local providers are low-cost service providers.
When companies start becoming “multilatinas,” or multinationals, they want to have the same set of services everywhere they operate. They want to be able to consolidate their operations, to consolidate their services, to consolidate their information, to consolidate the way they provide their services to their internal employees or their customers.
So they start looking for companies like Unisys that can also provide a similar experience across the whole region in which they operate. So, for us in Colombia, Elevate is moving into that direction. More companies in Colombia right now are becoming “mutlilatinas,” or multinationals, and we are identifying many more opportunities to provide those global solutions.
It just changes the game. It changes the kind of company that we compete with. But it’s very interesting, and every year Colombia brings additional opportunities into that market that we used to have in countries like Brazil — and we still have in countries like Chile or Mexico but not in Colombia. And that’s very important. It’s part of what we really do very well.
Loren Moss: Like everywhere, security is a big issue here. In Colombia, you hear about people being taken advantage of due to a lack of financial sophistication. You see the people get a text — or a WhatsApp message — about a pyramid bank schemes. I would imagine that that presents a challenge for banks and other money-handlers. For Unisys, as a company that supports banks with technology and outsourcing, what are some of the innovations and the capabilities to help financial institutions protect not only themselves but even protect end-users?
Carlos Ferrer: There is a combination of products, such as Stealth. We have evolved Stealth into multiple services. We have something called “Stealth Identity” that incorporates the biometrics identification process into all the security, which is very unique and allows you to connect any device.
But we have also other products under Stealth. To open a cloud, to open a mobile device, to open a server, whatever. So, it’s a combination of that, but we also bring analytics — predictive analytics, advanced analytics, or machine-learning — into the security process. So, being able to evaluate, incorporate, analyze, and make decisions based on the information allows you really to be more proactive at a time that you have to protect the information from your clients.
So, it’s a combination of products, it’s a combination of services, it’s a combination of analytics. In services, we also have advanced security services including SOC the CM that we provide in Colombia. So that makes it a unique approach to them that allows them to protect the information.
Loren Moss: And what are those services? SOC and CM?
Carlos Ferrer: SOC is Security Operations Center. The CM is made basically by the capture of all the logs from servers, from applications, from routers. A log is any action that passes through a device. When you log-in — take a log.
So when you do forensic analysis, it is done based on the logs, but the logs are in real time. Any time that a communication passes through any device, it generates a log of information. That log says that such-and such person is communicating with such-and-such person and this is the address that it’s coming from and this is the address it’s going to.
So what a CM does, which is a system of correlation of events, is to analyze the origins, the sources and the kind of information that is being sent in order to analyze behavior patterns and, based on those patterns, to take preventative action to block any kind of malicious action. For example, an attack that we faced a couple of weeks ago.
CM is the most effective way to prevent that kind of attack. Why? Because the system starts seeing all these connections trying to get into your network and immediately correlates all that information and says: “This is something unusual” and you just stop.
So, it never comes into your network. You program the way that the rules that identify analyzed information tells you that that information, that process is not a natural process for your business. You just block the whole process.
This interview has been edited for space and clarity.