By Sramana Mitra and guest author Aditya Modi
About César Gon
Brazilian software entrepreneur César Gon has been a key player in several initiatives to promote excellence in software development. Under Gon’s leadership, CI&T’s roster of services has grown to also include business intelligence, SAP consulting, and digital marketing. The company has developed solutions for major global companies such as Coca-Cola, Google, Nestlé, and Honda.
Based in São Paulo, Brazil, CI&T delivers consulting, application outsourcing and digital marketing services. It CI&T specializes in customized application development, business intelligence, SAP consulting, digital marketing and Web 2.0 applications. Its clients include a diverse array of large and global Fortune 500 customers in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Europe, Japan and China.
Sramana Mitra: Hi, César. Welcome to the Outsourcing series. To begin, would you tell us a bit about CI&T so that our readers have some context about the company and what it does? What kind of clients do you service, what kind of processes we are talking about? After that we will go into more detail.
César Gon: CI&T is an application outsourcing company, and we work beginning from the design, the ideation stage of software applications through the entire cycle, including all the engineering. Mainly we are working to digitalize the space. We engage with all our customers through different technologies, from mobile to ad to any technology that can help them to make their business more valuable and increase their bottom line.
Sramana: OK. Would you talk about the location? Also, what is the genesis of the company?
César: CI&T was founded in 1995 in Brazil, at that time we started working with two R&D centers, one in France and the other in the U.S. Since that time, we have evolved to become a global company with five development centers spread across Brazil, Argentina, and now in China. Our main customers are spread across the U.S., Japan, and Brazil.
Sramana: Why is the company’s headquarters in Brazil? I am asking because you started in France and then in the United States.
César: Our first two customers were in France and the U.S., and the idea was to use the talent available in Brazil to support customers. This was 16 years ago, and from there we evolved to a company that managed different skill sets and partners with customers to design new applications.
Sramana: What kind of customers do you work with?
César: Normally large companies like Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, and Panasonic. very well-known multinationals. A lot of media companies and companies like Yahoo and Google. In Brazil, we support the largest Brazilian companies like Rede Globo [a TV network] and so on.
Sramana: Are you selling to the CIO’s office? That is, are you working for the IT departments, or are you working for some other part of the organization?
César: Both. Sometimes we work with the marketing guys, sometimes with the CIO and sometimes with the CTO. It depends on the company.
Sramana: When you are working for the marketing organization, what kind of applications are you developing for them?
Cesar: Working for companies like Coca-Cola, we designed and handled the project from the ideation to the launch of the iPhone, iPad, Android applications, games and that kind of stuff.
Sramana: So, you have core competency in designing mobile applications, games, and similar products?
César: Yes. It is a part of what we do.
Sramana: What percentage of business comes from mobile applications?
César: From the Web and mobile, probably more than 30% now.
Sramana: More than 30%. What about the other 70%? How is the other 70% of the business split up?
César: We do a lot of business intelligence (BI) engagements where we partner with others; we would like to understand data from an enterprise resourcing planning (ERP) perspective, like SAP [does] and transform information that can be used for decision makers. We also have a set of customers for whom we do service-oriented architecture (SOA) development. That means understanding the architecture and transforming that into services that could be used across the entire organization. This is where we have partnered with a lot of banks and telecom companies. It’s not for the new media stuff, the new apps, but for improving their back office. We are implementing more powerful architecture to liberate the entire IT architecture and the use of IT in business areas.
Sramana: When you compete for business, what is the value preposition you bring to the table?
César: Normally our approach is very different from that of the traditional IT service provider. We really partner with each customer, understanding where we could help. We ask what skills we should develop, and what we should learn to establish a long-term partnership? We think about how we can add more value than a standard process. A part of our value preposition is the fact we have people in different locations, with different cultural roots, so we can have, for example a Japanese company design a mobile app or iPhone/iPad app using a team, some of team members are in Tokyo and some of them are in China. With that network of people from different cultural roots, we can change the way we engage with these people. The kind of partnerships we can develop through our people is part of what makes us a part of India’s IT industry. CI&T has now about 1,200 people, so we are small if you compare us with traditional IT service companies, but we are focused on a very different type of engagement.