Thursday, March 31, 2011

Good News from Brazil

I just came back from a week in Brazil and I must confess that it felt good to read positive news about the economy for a change. Three things caught my attention, especially since I will be moderating a panel next month in the Think Latin America event in Silicon Valley.

From pyramid to diamond
  • Data on the growth of the middle class. The income class distribution in Brazil used to look like a pyramid, now it is diamond-shaped. The Brazilian middle class now represents 53% of the population or roughly 101 million consumers. The wealthier A and B classes represent 22% and the "poor" are now 25% of the country's population. 
  • Air travel versus Bus travel. Brazilians used to travel by bus, because it was cheap and convenient. But with the growth of the middle class and the arrival of low cost airlines like Azul and Gol, Brazilians now prefer to take a plane for interstate travel. In a country of continental dimensions, this means increased productivity, but also a huge burden on the infrastructure. The Porto Alegre airport, for example, has seen a 90% increase in traffic from 2005 to 2010.
  • Taxes. Brazilian authorities announced that tax revenues for 2011 were 19.7% above the same period in 2010, and that the February numbers were the highest ever for that month. This is the result of the increased economic activity in the country, although critics complain that tax revenue is growing faster than the economy, which grew 7.5% last year. 
If you add that the majority of the population believes that the economy will be better in 2011 than in 2010, you have the recipe for a perfect market to pursue.

A relevant factor for the localization community is the fact that according to an English Proficiency Index study by EF highlighted by the Lioness blog "Latin America has the lowest level of English proficiency of any region. Only Mexico and Argentina score above low proficiency."

So if you want to sell in Latin America, start localizing now!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Of LISA's Insolvency and Other Events

"As of 2011 February 28, the Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA) is insolvent. In spite of the financial constraints LISA faces as an organization, we are exploring ways to continue the association's good works for the industry."

With this short notice on their website, LISA announced what had been obvious for some of us, industry insiders for a while: The LISA model was unsustainable and obsolete. Since the formation of GALA and the successful series of events organized by Localization World, LISA had become irrelevant. IBM's withdrawal from LISA a couple of months ago was the coup de grâce.

I was always very fond of LISA. It was there that I made my first presentation to the industry. It was there found a buyer for Lazoski, Beninatto, my company in Latin America. It was there that I met my wife. And it was there that I forged strong relationships that I maintain to this date.

But I am not sad. The industry is much more mature than it was in 1990. Companies have many more choices, and the fragmentation of industry events is an unavoidable reality. Localization World and its separate specialty events like the upcoming Apps Go Global and Worldware Conferences cater to specific needs of the buyer and vendor communities without the requirement of a hefty membership fee.

GALA, which was originally created as a vendor-only association, is now trying to attract localization buyers to its membership, and will certainly pick up the crumbles from LISA. The industry must only avoid repeating the same mistakes and I certainly hope that GALA does not become another pay-for-play event organizer and remains true to its mission to promote the industry as whole.

As a conference-hawk, I have shared my views about industry events several times in this and other blogs. For a refresher, take a look at my posting about specialty events and at the video conversation I had with Kirti Vashee on the subject of events.