Interview: Unisys CEO Peter Altabef Discusses the Importance of Latin America and Cybersecurity to the Company
Peter Altabef, president, CEO, and chairman of U.S. IT giant Unisys, recently made his second visit to Colombia while representing the head of the firm.
“Some of the most sophisticated application development work we are doing, we are doing right here in Bogotá.” – Peter Altabef of Unisys
During his trip, the New York native was in the country to lend support and expertise to the Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based company’s ongoing push to expand in Latin America.
Loren Moss, executive editor of Finance Colombia, got the chance to catch up with Altabef.
In the following video (with transcript below), the two discuss the Unisys strategy for Colombia, the development talent in the country, and why cybersecurity is now at the core of everything the company does.
Loren Moss: Unisys, I’ve learned, has over 1,000 employees here in Colombia. Why do you have such a big presence? What is the value — or why is Unisys so big on Colombia?
Peter Altabef: Unisys has been big in Colombia for a long time. We are celebrating our 65th anniversary in Colombia — and that is consistent, so we have been there the entire time. We do have over 1,000 people in Colombia, and it’s really for two reasons.
One is because of the vibrancy of the Colombian market. We have wonderful clients here like ISA, like EPM, like Bancolombia. But in addition to those clients we use the R&D talent here and we use the application development talent here to service our team around the world. Some of the most sophisticated application development work we are doing, we are doing right here in Bogotá.
Loren Moss: Wow, wow, I didn’t know that. Unisys announced over a 16% growth in the region, meanwhile the economy here has grown less than 3%. So how is it that Unisys is kind of beating the market? Why is it that Unisys feels that it’s been able to gain this kind of traction here in Latin America and Colombia?
“We really help our clients generate revenue. And if you do that — if you are on the front end of those relationships — that is a very valuable place to be.” – Peter Altabef
Peter Altabef: So, that’s a great question, too. You know, I think first of all you have to ask our clients.
But I will tell you we are not only servicing existing clients, but we are signing new clients at a rate that we have not in a very very long time — if ever. And part of that is our philosophy of putting cybersecurity at the core of all of our solutions.
So, whether it’s financial services, whether it’s retail, whether it’s utilities, whether it’s the energy sector — everything we do has cybersecurity built in from the ground up. And that is not typical, but we think it is gaining a lot of traction now that everyone is focused on cyber security.
Loren Moss: Right, that’s been big. Where do you see the growth sectors? Obviously Unisys has been big in certain markets and government here in Colombia, lik the financial sector and in energy. In Colombia, specifically, and in Latin America, where do you really see the growth opportunity?
Peter Altabef: Well, so in Colombia and in Latin America, I would say our largest sector is financial services, where we are privileged to work with banks throughout the entire hemisphere.
But in addition: energy, retail, utilities, travel and transportation. We work with some of the largest airlines here. So, those would be our core areas of our expertise.
Loren Moss: What are the challenges that businesses are engaging Unisys with to help them address?
Peter Altabef: Well, you know there is a tremendous need to digitize businesses. Virtually every industry is looking at how do they become more efficient — and not only saving money but by asking how do they address the next generation of users, right? How do they address a generation that wants to work on a mobile phone? A generation that looks at a browser on a laptop and says, “That’s okay, but I’d rather use my tablet”? And so our focus is really on that generation.
It’s really about how do you help this client turn what is an asset of theirs, which is their industry domain knowledge, into something that can be more powerful by really appealing to their customers. So we really help our clients generate revenue. And if you do that — if you are on the front end of those relationships ‚ that is a very valuable place to be.