GFT CEO Plans To Double U.S. Business, Leverage ChatGPT
GFT’s new Americas CEO talked to CRN about his plans to double its U.S. business, his company’s AWS partnership and how GFT could potentially leverage AI chatbot ChatGPT.
Marco Santos has huge plans in store for leading GFT’s newly consolidated Americas business, including a massive sales push and customer charge in the U.S.
“We have this exponential mindset to push the U.S. business and company to the limits in order to create another doubling of growth over the course of two or three years. And then another doubling of growth in two or three years after that,” said Santos, who was recently appointed GFT’s new CEO of the Americas.
GFT is a 10,000-plus employee strong global systems integrator and consultant powerhouse looking to take its U.S. business to the next level under Santos’ leadership following the combination of GFT’s operations in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico to form its new Americas regions.
GFT’s U.S. And AI Push By Santos
GFT combined all of its Americas operations last month after its U.S. business grew over 50 percent year over year in third quarter 2022. The Germany-based digital transformation specialist is a large global AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, LemonEdge and Thought Machine partner.
Santos has been a top executive at GFT since 2011, responsible for breaking the company into the Brazilian market and growing its team from zero employees to 1,800 professionals. He was CEO of GFT’s U.S.A and Latin America regions from 2020 until January 2023, when the company officially launched its new Americas region.
“In 2022, we more than doubled the U.S. teams’ headcount in one year. We added hundreds of people,” Santos told CRN. “We doubled the business in two years, but I doubled the headcount in one year.”
One area Santos specializes in is artificial intelligence. Specifically, he plans to leverage OpenAI’s highly popular AI chatbot, ChatGPT, to make his team more productive and effective.
“Using something like ChatGPT we could increase the productivity and effectiveness of our 10,000 employees globally or my 5,000 employees in the Americas by using ChatGPT to generate software, generate code, generate basic codes,” Santos said. “I’m not talking about delivering, obviously, a perfect software to the client. But we could deploy ChatGPT and other generative AI in order to bring templates, to bring software codes to make our employees much more productive. It could help them deliver more with what they have.”
In an interview with CRN, Santos explains his vision for GFT’s new Americas business, the company’s strategic partnership with AWS, and leveraging ChatGPT.
How big is GFT’s customer and sales push in the U.S.? What’s your vision?
We’ve doubled our U.S. business since I joined it two years ago. I strongly believe we can double it again.
I implemented a turnaround at GFT U.S.A—we brought in new people, we change culture, we change the approach and the offerings, marketing with the clients, etc.
Our vision is we have this exponential mindset to push the U.S. business and company to the limits in order to create another double-folding growth over the course of two or three years. And then another double folding in two or three years after that. My vision, and what we’ve been pushing and inspiring the teams to do, is to keep the exponential mindset and focus on another double folding growth and then another one.
Everybody is connected with this dream, with this ambition to make GFT U.S.A the largest entity for GFT across globe. The U.S. market is the largest market by far from all the countries in terms of IT consumption. If you’re doing great in U.K., in Canada, in Latin America, why not be great in the United States?
Do you plan to hire more in the U.S.?
Yes, we are investing a lot to grow our team in the U.S.
In 2022, we more than doubled the U.S. team headcount in one year. We added hundreds of people. So we doubled the business in two years, but I doubled the headcount in one year.
Before, we were too lenient with the U.S. operation. I have a strong belief that we need to invest and reinforce the client’s management, the project management in the U.S.A. And also senior leaders in terms of architects, the people who are going to designer and define the projects in a distributed way across the U.S. I do not want all the people just in New York. I have people in Chicago, Florida, Boston and we have lots of people in New York, New Jersey, etc. I’m focus on bringing in talent.
You’re an expert on artificial intelligence. What’s the future of AI and things like ChatGPT?
AI is an area that I really love. I believe that AI is going to be implemented everywhere and in all aspects. It’s going to be in every single touch point, connections, machines, and also these B2B interactions—that’s the future.
AI is growing. It’s growing much stronger than the information technology (IT) markets. So IT is doubling every year in cost effectiveness. AI is doubling every quarter, globally.
We have ChatGPT and there are many other generative AI’s coming up right now. I see the future, where my AI agent, is going to talk to your AI agent. They’re going to talk. They’re going to interact.
Frankly speaking, our [CRN] interview is going to eventually be between my agent and your agent. Then you come to refine it. We see it everywhere we go.
For example, with Netflix or Disney-Plus or whatever, you see more and more we have AI helping us make decisions. It can tell you what you want to watch, what you want to listen to, what you want to eat, what you want to wear, etc. We are getting into an era of recommendation, which is fully AI-based.
So everything that we do, we are going to have a new recommendation first brought by an AI algorithm or AI software agent. For me, AI is going to be pervasive across the boards in all kinds of applications.
How can a large systems integrator and consultant like GFT leverage OpenAI’s ChatGPT to help customers and GFT?
ChatGPT and other generative AI is a super exponential opportunity for us.
Using something like ChatGPT we could increase the productivity and effectiveness of our 10,000 employees globally or my 5,000 employees in the Americas by using ChatGPT to generate software, generate code, generate basic codes. I’m not talking about delivering, obviously, a perfect software to the client. But we could deploy ChatGPT and other generative AI in order to bring templates, to bring software codes to make our employees much more productive. It could help them deliver more with what they have.
ChatGPT can write the basics of a software template for a payment algorithm for mobile banking. It will generate for you the basics. Then you have a programmer, a software developer, that can work on top of that and scale up and accelerate. Instead of delivery in one month, maybe you can deliver in two weeks.
Obviously it’s going to start small, but this could grow and grow and grow. It could augment and enhance the capabilities of the team and make us more efficient.
Also, there are clients that are coming to us, ‘How can I apply and deploy ChatGPT into the projects that we have today?’ So depending upon the project, it makes sense to include that if you are working on a digital wallet or mobile bank or something else. We can bring ChatGPT as a functionality to them, then dock-it into the architecture that we are doing.
This is all about finding a business solution right for my end clients.
You said you expect to double GFT’s U.S. business within a few years. Where are the big opportunities to attack the market to generate so much growth?
Number one is: helping the clients move forward on their clouds journeys, which is cloud migrations and cloud transformations—specifically with AWS.
We work with all the three main clouds: GCP, Microsoft Azure and AWS. But we’ve been experiencing super good traction with AWS. We have great Fortune 500 customers together. Things are really scaling up. So cloud journey and cloud migration, especially specifically to AWS.
We have created real strategic partnership with AWS. So GFT is focus on driving more business for AWS and AWS is recognizing GFT and also driving some business to us because they believe we are going to accelerate the AWS business and accelerate their consumption. We are going to help AWS customers move faster and more efficiently on their cloud migration. So that’s number one.
Number two: where we are experiencing exponential growth is the implementation of what we call next-generation core banks.
We have a strong partnership with Thought Machine who is a core banking provider of things like cloud-native, digitally smart contracts, and it’s based on open services, open APIs, open banking. We are the main partner of Thought Machine worldwide, implementing that to several big clients. We are experiencing exponential growth with super major clients in the United States, including one of the top two largest banks in America. [Core banking] is going to keep moving in an exponential way for us.
What are some other big opportunities in the U.S. market you’re looking to attack?
I would say a third is next generation digital platforms, which are projects heavily based on data, AI and API integration that are going to enable companies to create all their digital products, etc. So that’s an area that we are investing a lot—digital platforms heavily based on data, AI, and open API’s.
Another big one: is the integration with GFT Canada because now we have the GFT America’s. GFT Canada is super skilled and specialized in insurance. We have multiple clients in insurance in Canada—I don’t have any insurance clients at GFT U.S.A. I want to now leverage over the knowledge and experience relationships with insurance [customers] that we have in GFT Canada and cross-sell, upsell to GFT in the United States.
By the way, with most of those clients, we are also helping them on their AWS cloud migration in insurance. I think insurance is a new frontier with a really high potential to double our company even faster than my aggressive plans.