One on One with Juan Ramon Echeverria, CVS Hightech CEO
(Interview from “The Wainhouse Research” to CVS Hightech videconferences in Latinamerica. (See page.5 PDF))
WRB: We need to learn more about Cental and Latin America, but let’s start off with a few words about your company. What do you do?
JRE: CVS Hightech is located in Central America and is one of the few companies that work exclusively with distance communication solutions (video, audio and webconferencing). We have been selling products and providing consulting in the Central American market for over 8 years. We focus our biggest business efforts to develop projects within deprived communities (mainly indigenous communities), and have proven that technology serves even groups with very low literacy. Most of these projects are financed by international and local organizations. We also develop projects with Central American corporations as well as enable social projects within some deprived communities financed directly by CVS Hightech.
WRB: What are some of the business opportunities for videoconferencing in Central America?
JRE: The videoconferencing business in Central America has been handled in the past mainly by technical oriented companies. They have made the mistake to position videoconferencing as something very expensive and difficult to use. In our case, we are a marketing oriented company, therefore, we have worked hard to prove that anyone can get benefits from this technology. Now that economy is affecting everyone, everywhere, videoconferencing is addressing a need to survive, to reduce costs. Most of Latin America has very poor infrastructure, paved roads, bridges, etc. and videoconferencing and web conferencing have become a very good solution to keep productivity high at low cost.
We see a good opportunity, not just in Central America, but in Latin America to develop many projects based on distance communication including video, audio and data, mainly over IP. ISDN rates are very expensive within our region. We provide IP/ISDN connections, but they are mainly required for dial-in calls from Europe, USA or Asia. Central American corporations don’t generally dial out ISDN calls. ISDN is more frequently used in South America. IP usage is higher in Central America. South America is just moving to IP.
WRB: What are the biggest markets in Latin / South America?
JRE: The biggest markets are Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. These countries, just like any other country in Latin America, have a big percentage of deprived and / or indigenous communities. These biggest markets are also the most difficult in which to compete, since many brands have resellers there, and you have to focus on volume with low margins, which is different in the rest of the CALA countries, where the customers need more guidance and assistance, and are willing to pay higher prices. Good opportunities are found in every country. As I said before, the mistake has been to select an elite market to focus videoconferencing, when we could have focused on the different needs that exist at different levels.