The cloud is like the World Cup: never underestimate emerging countries

These days, all eyes are on Brazil for the World Cup, but CEO Antonio Carlos Soares reminded the attendants of Gigaom’s Structure conference in San Francisco on Thursday that the country is also a waking technology giant. “Brazil has over 100 million people online,” he said, adding that a huge mobile penetration as well as an internet-friendly public policy have helped a lot to bring people online.

Not only is it mandatory to file your taxes on the internet, the country also has an internet bill of rights that comes with strong net neutrality protections, safeguards privacy and guarantees freedom of speech online. All of this has helped cloud-based businesses like, which helps companies with cloud-based task and time management tools, to grow their business in the country.

Soares’ comments were echoed by GoIntegro CEO German Dyzenchauz, whose company offers cloud-based HR solutions to international and local businesses in Latin America. Dyzenchauz said that even traditional businesses in the region have been rapidly embracing new tools and cloud-based technologies. Up until recently, Latin America was lagging five to seevn years behind the U.S. in terms of technology adoption, he estimated, but that gap is quickly closing, and now down to one or two years.

However, emerging markets can also come with unique challenges, explained Apstrata CEO Rabih Nassar, whose company works with mobile operators in the Middle East. The political upheaval across that region has made it harder to attract investments and talent, he said, while also arguing that cloud-based technology can help to address a market that is as fragmented as the Middle East.

But there are also less serious, and possibly more universal challenges: Soares said that his company recently began to track how much productivity is lost in Brazilian companies due to the world cup. First tests during the pre-cup warm-up games revealed losses between 3 and 9 percent, he recalled. But when Brazil played the Cup’s opening game, productivity went down 70 percent.

Photo by Jakub Mosur

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