Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Brazil Diary Day 1: It's A Long Way To Brazil...

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 9, 2010

From San Francisco to Sao Paulo in Brazil took an astonishingly long time. I had to fly via Charlotte, NC. (Excellent ribs and free airport WiFi.)

I then had a four hour wait at Rio de Janeiro for the flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil's business capital. It took me about 24 hours to get there.

As the plane started to descend I could see the suburbs of Sao Paulo, and then a cluster of skyscrapers, and then more residential areas, and then more clusters of high rise buildings... surely the airport was close but we kept on flying...

We kept on flying because Sao Paulo is huge. By some measures, it's the third largest city in the world. At the last census ten years ago, its population was over 19 million, this year's census is expected to count 23 million people.

It's winter in Brazil but the temperature is about the same as San Francisco, in the low 60s, with clear blue skies.

A car service takes me to my hotel. We drive for about 40 minutes, and the roads start to become congested as rush hour starts. The cars slow down. But lots of motorcyclists split the lanes and weave in and out of the traffic at high speeds, I marvel at their bravery. My driver shakes his head and says that there are fatalities every day.

We drive past an airport in the middle of the city. You can see the wings of jumbo jets as they taxi around a bend up on a raised embankment, seemingly just 100 yards from a busy highway.

There was a terrible accident in 2007, my driver tells me. A plane skidded off the runway and across the highway straight into huge fuel depot. He pointed to a high blue fence that surrounded a block sized area to our left, with white stars, representing about 200 lives lost in Brazil's worst plane crash. [BBC NEWS | Americas | Brazilian plane crash 'kills 200']


(Photo by Gustible.)
I check into the Sheraton World Trade Center, a large hotel and convention center with about 3,000 rooms. Just outside is the stunning Octávio Frias de Oliveira Bridge.

I'm attending a Gartner conference on outsourcing, which is combined with an IT Forum organized by Brasscom, the Brazilian IT association. Brasscom is keen to promote Brazilian IT companies and show that Brazil is in the forefront of IT.

I already knew that some Brazilian companies are well ahead of anyone in using advanced IT architectures to build their businesses. Last month in Las Vegas, at the Tibco User conference, I had a chance to meet José Salinas, Vice President of Technology and Logistics at Banco do Brasil.

This bank is one of the world leaders in banking technology. Mr. Salinas said that the bank has more computing power than Argentina. It's using Tibco software to integrate a wide range of financial services and build a cutting edge loan system that can approve loans within seconds over a cell phone.

There's a mixture of US CIOs, Gartner analysts, and journalists at my table. We speak about outsourcing and the cloud. Richard Matlus, senior VP of Outsourcing at Gartner, says that a lot of companies are cloudy about the cloud and are taking small steps. But, at a recent panel he moderated, all the CIOs said they would no longer own data centers in 5 years time. Wow.

We head back for the hotel and I'm sitting next to Ricardo Asse, a senior advisor to Brasscom. He looks like a young Pablo Escobar, the Columbian drug lord, I tell him. He laughs and says he's not that rich.

He tells me about Brazil's IT industry and also some of the moves to join with Argentine, Chilean, and other South American IT companies to co-promote their IT industries. However, it's clear that Brazil considers itself the top dog in South America, equal billing with any others is not on the cards.

It's late when we get back to the Sheraton. I write: There's a Lot of IT in Brazil: Brasscom And The South American IT Industry - SVW


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