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When it comes to growth, Latin America remains one hot market.
That was the assessment from three leading distribution executives who assembled at the XChange Latin America conference last week in Dallas for a panel discussion led by Global Technology Distribution Council CEO Tim Curran.
The executives said some Latin America markets, such as Brazil, could grow as fast as 20 percent in the coming year with the overall market charting growth of at least 10 percent. The distribution executives representing Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Westcon said they are expecting robust growth across almost every product category, especially tablets, notebooks, data center products and cloud computing.
[Related: CRN's Exclusive Coverage Of XChange 2012]
"We are halfway through our fiscal year and the demand is very strong," said Luis Olivera, vice president and general manager for Latin America and the Caribbean at Tech Data.
"We have seen a huge demand in the market for tablets, smartphones and handhelds. We have even noticed a high demand for laptops and desktops in Latin America, so we foresee a possible rebuild in that segment. We have divided up our business for efficiency with things like cloud and data centers so we can ensure a right focus for the right types of resellers," Olivera said.
Ingram Micro's Ignacio Rojas, managing director of Miami Export and Peru, who sat on the panel, agreed with Olivera's remarks, adding that Mexico is one of Ingram Micro's best-performing markets inside Latin America. He cited collaboration software and videoconferencing as promising segments.
The distribution executives said the market's growth is being fueled by several factors including a fundamental shift in the population out of poverty and into middle class status, which is driving more consumer purchases and fueling SMBs. In addition, distributors said that there is a strong demand for smartphones across the business and consumer markets along with vertical market demand in agriculture and oil and gas. Government and public sector spending also remains strong.
However, the Latin American market is not without its risks, the executives agreed. Political unrest, currency devaluation and slowing exports to Europe could all impact the market's growth.
While the solution providers in the audience agreed that the Latin American market is growing far faster than North America or Europe, many said they are struggling with a transition from product reselling to more services-oriented business models.
"There is a hurricane bearing down on the technology space -- the cloud, social media and tablet hurricane -- and it must be embraced," said Curran. He told the audience that distributors could help them in transitioning their business models and identifying new vendor partners that address cloud and mobility.
"The industry has underestimated the capabilities of the distributors during periods of transition," Curran said.
"We help the partner make the best out of solution providers' resources. We have the scale and the ability to have different people bring their different solutions and go directly to the source," said Rojas.