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TECHNOLOGY: New B2B and B2C solutions for Latin America.

Building a strong technological infrastructure is vital to Latin America's economic future. As more businesses and consumers go online, the patterns of communication and commerce will continue to evolve.

A January report by U.S. research firm Emarketer indicates that total e-commerce revenues in Latin America reached US$3.6 billion in 2000. Business-to-business (B2B) transactions accounted for US$2.85 billion, while business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions generated US$724 million. The study found that Brazil, Mexico and Argentina together account for approximately 65 percent of the region's 9.9 million Internet users, with Brazil boasting 3.9 million, followed by Mexico with 1.5 million and Argentina with 1 million.

Brazil is by far the leading market for internet commerce in both the B2B and B2C segments," said Noah Elkin, Ph.D., senior analyst at eMarketer. All countries, however, will see impressive growth in e-commerce revenues over the next few years, although the B2B sector will grow most quickly."

Overall e-commerce revenues, fueled by advances in the B2B segment, will increase substantially to $67 billion by 2004, the firm predicted. Other findings from the report:

* In Mexico, 1.5 million children (14+ years) were active Internet users in 2000. By 2004, that number will grow to 6.4 million.

* The Internet user population in Latin America is heading toward gender parity.

* Given the limitations of the region's fixed-line infrastructure, Latin Americans are turning to wireless as an alternative.

* In Chile, 31% of workplace POs have an Internet connection

* There are 4.5 million wireless subscribers in Venezuela -- one of the first countries in Latin America where mobile phone usage outnumbers fixed-line connections.

In keeping with the changing dynamics of Latin America, technology companies are developing a host of new B2B and B2C solutions. Here are some of the most important new offerings.

Acer Group

With ultraportable mobile POs, stylish desktop models and powerful business minitowers, Acer is a leading provider of Internet-enabling computer solutions to Latin America.

Recently, Acer launched the TravelMate 350, the latest member of its TravelMate mobile PC family. The TravelMate 350 is thin and light, yet durable enough to survive constant traveling, with cutting-edge features to keep users ahead of the competition.

Acer has also added the Veriton FP2 modular desktop to its Veriton series of desktop PCs that combine sophisticated style with outstanding performance. "Acer's design philosophy is that form should match advanced functionality," says Vincent Cho, PC Product Line Management AVR "Our Veriton range, including the new Veriton FP2, is designed with professionals and their particular working environments in mind."

Another new arrival is the Veriton 9100 business minitower, featuring the Intel Pentium 4 processor - today's most powerful video and audio processor specifically designed for the latest web-based media. This gives businesses a reliable and robust high performance system that delivers operating standards not just suited to current Internet needs but built in preparation for tomorrow's technologies as well.

Established in 1976, Acer is the world's third-largest PC manufacturer, offering a broad range of PC products from industry-leading high-end PC servers and multimedia desktop computers, to notebooks, computer peripherals and components.

Acer is also a leading Internet-enabler, providing Internet component technologies, devices and services. These include end-to-end solutions, mobile phones, plasma displays, TFT screens, projectors, wireless communications, and e-corp solutions.

Agilent Technologies

A diversified technology company, Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) provides Latin America's telecommunications and life sciences industries with advanced solutions, service and support. "We are continually expanding and enriching our solutions portfolio," says Ruben Rotulo, general manager, Latin America region. "We introduce new products from our own R&D efforts and from the acquisitions of companies that are leaders in their fields of operation."

Agilent provides instruments and systems products for the telecommunications industry in every segment of the value chain. "We offer a complete portfolio of product and solutions from the R&D labs to the network operations for both the network equipment manufacturers and the service providers," says Rotulo.

Agilent serves the "big names" of the telecom industry, as well as the newcomers entering the market as a result of deregulation. "We can provide the expertise, which is particularly important at a time of technology convergence," Rotulo says. "Today a service provider has to deal with wireless, wireline, fiber optic and Internet protocol solutions, and it is a challenging task to monitor and administer such a complex environment."

In the field of life sciences, Agilent has developed solutions for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies that support the discovery and testing of new drug, such as bioinformatic software, lab-on-a-chip products and DNA microarray. Agilent is also a leader in chemical analysis specifically in gas chromatography.

Agilent has had a direct presence in Latin America since 1967, when it opened subsidiaries in Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina while they were still part of Hewlett Packard. Today, the independent company has more than 400 employees in Latin America, with additional operations in Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Chile and Colombia, as well as a regional office in Miami.

Since its spin-off from HP, Agilent has established itself as a global leader in designing and manufacturing test, measurement and monitoring instruments, systems and solutions, and semiconductor and optical components, serving customers in 120 countries. In fiscal year 2000, Agilent had net revenue of $10.8 billion.

Diveo Broadband Networks

Since launching its first commercial operations in Argentina in 1999, Diveo Broadband Networks, Inc. has aggressively built out 12 local access service markets and seven Internet Data Centers throughout Latin America. Today, Diveo offers mission-critical Internet infrastructure and broadband services to the major urban markets of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay, and in Miami.

Diveo's broadband local access service uses fixed wireless and fiber optic technology to provide flexible, high-quality connectivity services, and due to the company's rapid expansion over the past year, Diveo owns and operates the largest Internet Data Center footprint in the region. With just under 400,000 square feet of world-class web hosting and colocation space in Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Bogota and Miami, Diveo satisfies the needs of large-scale enterprises, telecom carriers, regional portals and other organizations with mission-critical Internet applications.

In October, Diveo announced a $120 million five-year alliance with IBM for web hosting services in Latin America, and an alliance with Compaq to provide dedicated web hosting solutions for large and medium-sized businesses, Internet content providers, e-commerce providers and systems integrators throughout Latin America.

Based in Washington, D.C., Diveo Broadband Networks, Inc. is one of Latin America's leading facilities-based Internet infrastructure and communications providers, leveraging its "first mile" broadband connectivity to provide Internet, data, voice and video services.

IFX Corporation

Today's Latin American businesses demand a partner who understands the Internet and provides rapid, responsive service on a local basis throughout the region. IFX Networks (www.ifxnetworks.com), an IFX Corporation (NASDAQ: FUTR, www.ifxcorp.com) wholly owned subsidiary, shares this vision, providing full-service, tailored turnkey solutions to corporations, carriers and ISPs.

"IFX is committed to being among the top three IP network services providers in Latin America, measured by coverage, quality of service, and customer satisfaction," says Jack Roepers, senior vice president, business development.

Since its founding in 1998, IFX Corporation (NASDAQ: FUTR) has built one of the most extensive pan-regional network access platforms in Latin America, delivering high-quality Internet connectivity and a broad range of value-added services, including ATM, clear channel, dedicated fixed wireline and wireless Internet access, wholesale and private label internet access, VPNs, web-hosting and co-location, and premium dial-up with region-wide roaming access to IFX Networks' continent-wide points-of-presence (POPs), all with 24x7 technical support.

IFX -- whose slogan is "Siempre en Linea" -- assists numerous enterprise and ISP customers with network and communications solutions, including Telia International Carrier, Convergence Communications, Inc., Lufthansa Systems, Cisco Systems, PeoplePC, Commtouch, and Tutopiacom.

Based in Miami, IFX has approximately 70 company-owned points-of-presence (POPs) in 14 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Uruguay, Venezuela and the United States. IFX is also present at the Miami NAP of the Americas.

Precise Software Solutions

Precise Software Solutions offers end-to-end performance management solutions for companies using Oracle-based platforms. Precise serves over 1,100 companies around the world with offices in Europe, Israel, Asia and the Americas.

While distributed computing gives business unprecedented flexibility, it poses challenges: measuring application performance and identifying the sources of performance degradation. Three types of IT environments face these challenges: (1) enterprise resource planning (ERP), (2) e-business, and (3) application service providers (ASPs). Precise/Insight [TM] is an application performance management solution that measures end-to-end response time and segments that time by IT component. Precise/Insight rapidly identifies the sources of performance degradation.

"We provide companies with the ability to see instantly how well they're serving their customers, we pinpoint areas where their performance may be less than optimal and tell them exactly where to focus -- on the network, the database server, the web server, or the application server -- to solve complex performance problems," says Alex Logan, director of Latin America.

At the center of the span of SAP [TM] R/3[R] ERP business functionality is one requirement: to guarantee SAP R/3 performance. Traditional performance management means do not meet SAP R/3 service level objectives, but Precise/Insight, with its abilities to measure SAP R/3 transaction response times by presentation layer, application layer, database layer and network time, is well suited to SAP R/3 performance management needs.

In typical e-business environments, web servers, application servers, and database servers perform dedicated functions. As e-businesses add functionality, the likelihood of performance problems increases exponentially. Precise/Insight's ability to collect performance metrics from all components of an e-business transaction and to correlate those metrics into a cohesive business perspective provides a unique solution for managing e-business performance.

Many companies are now outsourcing their application management to ASPs so they may focus more fully on their core competencies. "Business/outsourcer relationships work best when the partners negotiate service objectives and embed service level management in their business processes," says Logan. Precise/Insight's Performance Warehouse stores performance metrics over time and provides performance intelligence for identifying usage patterns, setting thresholds, defining baselines, and establishing a proactive performance management process that ensures business performance.

Polycom

At Bristol-Myers Squibb, scientists around the world rely on videoconferencing to collaborate on new therapies, thus increasing productivity and reducing the time to develop new products. However, the company's legacy system required video communication specialists available at each location to launch and sup- port the meetings. The legacy systems could not be remotely reserved, managed or maintained, and the quality of the video was poor.

After Bristol-Myers Squibb deployed more than 40 Polycom ViewStation video communications systems in 13 primary research sites, the hours of videoconferencing usage virtually doubled. Users cited the ease of use, remote site management capabilities and high-quality video and audio provided by the ViewStation systems. Scientists and executives initiate their own meetings with an intuitive user interface and a universal address book. Most important, though, was the superior video quality -- a full 30 frames per second.

Polycom's advanced videoconferencing products are designed to meet the needs of small and mid-size businesses, as well as large-scale multinational enterprises. "Our high-speed communications solutions provide users with true advantages when it comes to doing business," says Glenn Adamo, vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Headquartered in San Jose, California, Polycom maintains regional offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

WEB Software & Consulting

Unless a Latin American business regularly backs up its network or PC data on a regular basis, an unexpected flood, fire, theft, employee sabotage or hard drive failure could be catastrophic. Through its TeleBack 2000[TM] and iBUS[TM] remote backup service software, WEB Software & Consulting provides the technology for entrepreneurs to protect all businesses that use computers.

"We are pioneers in the remote backup service (RBS) industry, providing quality packages that allow anyone to start a profitable service business," says Bill Barnes, president and CEO of the Deland, Florida-based company. "Our easy-to-use software has been a fundamental component of business data recovery plans since 1994."

In addition to selling directly to businesses that need automated off-site backup, WEB Software & Consulting offers business packages designed to help computer consultants or anyone with entrepreneurial drive to provide this valuable data backup service to businesses. "You can be the hero when someone calls and says, 'We just lost all of our accounting data, can you get me back online?'" says Barnes.

Using standard phone lines or Internet connections, the company's backup software will work on any TCP/IP or Windows compatible network. All data is compressed and ecrypted before transmission, and the backup work can be automated for maximum convenience.
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Publication:Latin Trade
Date:Mar 1, 2001
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