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Microsoft reaches Latin America and the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale base

Microsoft reaches Latin America and the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale base

Posted by Shanelle Weir on December 22, 2014

Microsoft, the iconic software and technology giant, oversees business in 46 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean from its regional headquarters in Fort Lauderdale.

“For Microsoft, Latin America is a highly relevant region where we focus on supporting economic growth and improving the quality of life in our communities,” said Colombian-born Hernán Rincón, president of Microsoft Latin America.

“We have experienced a significant expansion in the region,” said Rincón, an engineer who began working for Microsoft 12 years ago and took over as head of Latin America and the Caribbean in 2007.

“Our customers are looking for solutions and services that can help them with their biggest problems. We are reinventing productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more,” by providing products and services like the cloud-based Office 365, Windows 10, the Azure Cloud Platform, OneDrive and many others, he added.

For example, the Mexican government’s Tax Administration System (SAT) chose Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing services to help it securely and efficiently manage tens of millions of tax returns.

After implementing Microsoft’s cloud system, the government said it could efficiently handle peak traffic of up to 34 million electronic documents per day, and that the number of tax returns processed in 2013 was up 8.24 percent over 2012. In addition to faster processing of returns, the Microsoft system provided secure management of sensitive and confidential tax information on its cloud.

Microsoft develops, licenses and sells a wide range of computer software products, personal computers, cloud-based services, consumer electronics and other services to individuals, companies, government entities and other organizations.

The company, whose world headquarters is in Redmond, Washington, set up its regional office in South Florida 1994 with about 20 employees. In charge of all sales, marketing and services operations in Latin America and the Caribbean, Microsoft’s Fort Lauderdale headquarters today has 400 employees. The company has another 3,600 throughout the region. The Fort Lauderdale office also has a sales staff that covers the southeast United States.

The regional headcount will grow even larger. Microsoft took over Nokia’s mobile device business and is incorporating former Nokia employees into its ranks.

Microsoft operates through 39 regional offices in 21 countries and has manufacturing facilities in Brazil and Mexico, its two largest markets in the region.

It runs 20 innovation centers throughout the region, which provide students, start-up companies, government organizations and local communities access to technology and tools for job creation.

Microsoft also partners with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Organization of American States to help provide technology and technology training to students, communities and government agencies, improve education and create jobs.

“We have been doing business in Latin America and the Caribbean for almost 30 years,” reaching individual consumers and businesses, said Rincón, who received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from the State University of New York (SUNY), a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of the Andes in Colombia and a master’s degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Aside from the direct jobs Microsoft has created in the region, Rincón noted that “a huge part of our business” is carried out by the company’s 80,000 business partners, local and regional firms that represent Microsoft, sell its products and services and provide support to customers. These partners and their “ecosystem of over 846,000 developers” have generated more than 1 million jobs in the region, Rincón noted.

To provide direct assistance to communities, help educate young people and expand the use of its products, Microsoft also has donated over $395 million in software and cash in the region through programs providing Office 365 to non-profit organizations and for students.

Microsoft competes with a host of other hi-tech companies, like Google, Apple, IBM, Sony, Samsung, Nintendo and many others. It had worldwide revenues of $86.8 billion in fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30, and does not break out regional figures on revenue or investment.

Despite this, Microsoft has seen substantial growth in Latin America, and Rincón sees three areas where his company and regional firms can develop new opportunities: computing, big data and mobility.

“Many companies are looking for the smoothest path to reimagining their business models, processes and teams,” Rincón said. Microsoft has invested $15 billion to build its cloud infrastructure, which offers businesses great flexibility, mobility and costs based on use, not capital investments. In addition, technological tools — like Office 365, business intelligence systems for managing big data and software and services that effectively link companies, employee and customers via mobile devices — will provide companies with significant new benefits.

“A total of 50,000 companies are using Office 365 in the region, and we have seen triple-digit growth since the launch of Office 365 and Azure,” he said.

“The digital age is changing how we do business.”

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