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IT Development

When solutions fail: the problems of a bad software development

Technology is to solve our problems, but only if it works well. This phrase is a truism. However, it still seems that both companies and governments do not have it entirely clear when developing technological solutions.

An investigator in Artificial Intelligence mentioned on one occasion that in Mexico, the system is a green dwarf that is hidden in computers and always falls. This jocular comment refers to an explanation that Mexican users commonly hear when requesting a service that requires an electronic machine or Internet connection: “the system went down.”

This excuse was the same used in the 1988 elections, when Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the candidate of the Party in power, went down in the vote count. Suddenly, a connection failure caused the results to stop showing. When the connection returned, Salinas de Gortari appeared leading the voting.

These types of failures were to be expected at a time when technology was barely being implemented. Even in more developed countries, technological shortcomings are frequent. When the Hubble telescope was launched into space in 1990, the researchers in charge of the project encountered several problems. The failures ranged from vibrations of its structure that affected the quality of the images, memory losses of the on-board computers, and a defect in the primary mirror that caused the telescope images to be blurred. These problems cost millions of dollars in repairs.

To err is a human characteristic, not of underdeveloped countries. However, both governments and companies must take quality seriously in the development of their technological applications and invest the resources necessary for them to function correctly. Only in this way can they offer products that offer trust among users and do not damage the image of the government.

Case study: #TeBuscamosKaren

On Tuesday, December 3, Karen Espíndola disappeared after sending a message to her mother, worried about the suspicious aspect of the taxi driver. This was the chronology of the facts:

Around 8:20 p.m., Laura Karen sent a message to her mother to warn that she would take a taxi.

At 8:58 p.m., Karen sent a second message saying that the unit driver looked suspicious and rude.

That was the last time the young woman had contact with her family before disappearing. His mother asked him to get out of the taxi and send his location, but Laura didn’t answer anymore.

From that moment, family and friends asked for help in social networks. Her brother, Daniel Espíndola, shared Laura’s conversation with her mother and a photo.

“Do not enter calls or whats. We only know that they turned the cell phone on and off. She was dressed as in this photo, with black leggings, measuring 1.65-1.70,” Daniel wrote.

On Twitter, the hashtag #TeBuscamosKaren became a trend. This broadcast caused an official to share the “My Taxi CDMX” tool, which includes a panic button to notify the authorities of a dangerous situation.

A modern solution for a growing problem in Mexico City. However, users report a problem: the app does not work as it should.

The complaints have not only been from users, but also from expert developers who pointed out several shortcomings of the application. One even simulated the app, showing that a better and open source could be made.

An app with poor performance not only offers a bad image of the government, which remains incompetent. It also endangers users who are considering it as a reliable option in emergencies.

A country with talent that is not being used

The problem is not a sign of incompetence on the part of Mexican programmers, nor for the lack of technological tools. Mexico is a country that is increasingly gaining confidence in the software development industry. Large and medium-sized software companies have decided to establish themselves in the country, partly because of their proximity to the United States both geographically and culturally. Although Mexico City is the most developed metropolis, other cities have gained prestige over time.

The problem is the talent that is not being used in the country. And this situation happens on several levels. In the area of ​​technology, the Mexican education system has had problems keeping up. In many cases, young people do not find space to develop within companies.

Mexico faces many problems. Technological innovation can contribute to solutions, as long as it is well done.

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IT Development

Software development centers are choosing Mexico for expansion

In this month, the Argentine company Baufest opened offices in Monterrey. This software and IT services development company reaffirmed its expansion strategy and commitment to Mexico with this action, as more and more technology companies do.

That Monterrey (Nuevo León) is the site chosen by Baufest for the opening of its new offices is not fortuitous. Currently, Mexico City is where technology companies are most concentrated in the country. Still, the governments of other states have sought in recent years to boost their metropolises as attractive options for the IT sector.

Read alsoTop 5 Tech Cities of Mexico.

Baufest’s goal is to generate closer attention with its customers; In addition to prospecting, in that entity, new market opportunities. Monterrey is one of the most important industrial centers in Mexico.

“We want to diversify and evolve together in the country.”

Luis Battilana, Country Manager at Baufest

Luis Battilana, country manager of this firm nationwide, highlights the advantages of investing in Mexico: “Here we find a territory of opportunities, not only to expand our operation but also, to serve the local market. We want to promote digital transformation, always maintaining a close relationship with our customers.”

A fast-growing software company

With this movement, Baufest is positioned as one of the fastest-growing companies nationwide, focused on serving the private software and IT development market. This technology company is also a consultant in digital transformation, specialized in accompanying other companies in their evolution to renew the way they work.

In the last five years, Baufest has maintained a customer satisfaction index (NPS) above 95%.

“Our new offices in San Pedro Garza, Nuevo León, represent what we want to achieve with our growth plan,” says Luis Battilana, who joins the local management of this company, along with Analía Baño, since October 1.

“We are interested in not only having a presence in the main cities of the country; but also, adapt to the culture of each client to be close to them and understand them.” 

This Argentine-born firm has 25 years of experience in Latin America and 2 thousand projects developed. Also, it maintains operations in different areas of the region, the United States and Europe, with Mexico being one of its main markets. 

“Since we arrived in this country, in 2007, we have sought to position ourselves as a different company that transforms the work of people,” says Luis Battilana, who also serves as Latam Industry Head for the Financial industry: “Today we serve large companies importance for the national market in different sectors such as Bimbo, Vitro, Sky or Santander, providing them with user-centric technological solutions”.   

Precisely, to stand out in the markets where it has a presence, Baufest maintains a close relationship with its customers. In fact, in Mexico, it has business relationships – up to 10 years – with some of the firms that have hired it. “Our approach is based on AI, machine learning, cognitive technologies, and data science,” says the manager. 

“We always seek to leave a legacy in the solutions we offer. It’s not just about offering technology, but also to produce good things for people. Always through agility, cultural transformation, and digital advancement,” he adds.  

Regarding other expansion plans they have in Mexico, Luis Battilana says that they are already working on tender projects with prestigious companies: “We will seek to continue promoting our presence, attracting more clients to our portfolio. This country provides unbeatable conditions to be one of the international technology capitals at the international level. And in that growth, we want to position Baufest.”

Domestic and foreign companies grow in Mexico

Baufest joins a plethora of technology companies that have found success in Mexico thanks to IT services outsourcing.

In this list, we have examples of national companies that started working since the Internet arrived in the country, as is the case of Softek, an IT company founded by Blanca Trevino in 1982.

At that time, the bet of being a technology development company was risky. However, in recent years, this has changed, and there is less and less doubt that Mexico has the infrastructure and human resources to grow in software development outsourcing.

This sector will be critical to the growth of the economy, not only for Mexico but also for the rest of Latin America. For 2019, global outsourcing expects to grow by 10%.

The possibility of growth is wide for Latin America, although at present, the region represents only 3.5% of the market in the world.

Currently, software companies in Mexico are not limited to meeting the needs of this country. The proximity to the United States opens the possibility of exporting services to the United States. In some cases, these companies maintain offices in the Bay Area of San Francisco, while their development centers work in Mexico.

In Mexico, there is still a need to modernize education to meet the demand of software companies. Even, the country is increasingly positioned as an option both to hire services and to expand technology companies.

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IT Development Startups

Loon will fly together with Telefonica to take the Internet to the Amazon

In recent days, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, signed a deal with Telefónica to bring high-speed Internet to the Amazon region of Peru. The service would begin operating in 2020, once the permits to work in the area have been resolved. A detail attracts the attention of this deal: stratospheric balloons will be responsible for providing the service.

The CEO of Internet para Todos in Peru, Teresa Gomes, recalled that the company was born to connect millions of people in Latin America, including 6 million Peruvians, without an adequate Internet connection. 

Today, everyone accepts that providing Internet connection in the most remote regions of the world is a necessity to combat the digital divide and offer more development opportunities to the people who live there. Likewise, governments accept that the Internet is essential to boost the development of nations. And technology companies recognize that extending connectivity in the world is the only way they have today to expand their market. 

However, rugged geography is imposed as an impediment to the development of a telecommunications infrastructure capable of bringing the Internet to the most remote parts of the world.

The race to bring the Internet to the last corner of the world

Overcoming the natural barriers that are imposed to extend Internet services to the most remote population has required creative solutions from Silicon Valley companies. With the purchase of Ascenta in March 2014, Facebook opted for drones charged with solar energy to send Internet connection from the stratosphere to remote areas. 

After acquiring Ascenta, Mark Zuckerberg commented on the suitability of drones to connect to remote places. The Facebook CEO said that thanks to the efficiency and duration of high altitude drones, they could remain in flight for months or years. “They have greater durability than globes, and their location can be controlled more precisely,” the executive said.

Google relies more on balloons than drones. The tech giant also acquired an improved drone company with solar panels: Titan Aerospace. The company purchased in April 2014 to take an Internet connection to remote locations. However, in 2017, Google abandoned the project.

The epic of Loon: Icarus and Daedalus

The Loon project, responsible for carrying the Internet through balloons, began in August 2011. The first balloon built in the Google X Labs – the division that develops the craziest projects of Google, such as Google Lens or autonomous cars – was called Icarus, while Daedalus was the name of the team that worked on its development. 

Thus began an epic story. Like Icarus, the first balloons developed by the company fell sharply. Imperceptible leaks prevented the balloons from staying long in the air, while the team had to seek experts in areas ranging from textiles to aerospace engineering to better prototype.

In this way, Loon began to improve his balloon management standards. The team had to walk with special socks to avoid holes, and the sutures were strengthened. Perseverance soon rewarded the efforts.

A balloon trip to connect the world

After years of work, the Loon project managed to create a balloon that remained up to 187 days in the air and went around the world nine times, a milestone that even Jules Verne never imagined. The aircraft were included with GPS to make them easier to recover, as well as solar panels and lithium batteries.

At present, each globe is capable of providing the Internet with a 4G LTE connection in a diameter of 40 km. A connected globe network can, in turn, cover 5,000 km2. With this infrastructure, it is possible to offer a connection of 15 megabytes per second (Mbps) to a mobile phone, while a MiFi device can connect at 40 Mbps.

While Zuckerberg is right that it is more difficult to control the position of the balloons in the air, Loon has known how to solve this problem through Big Data. With data related to the wind and forecasts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Google’s project has been able to develop algorithms that allow predicting and simulating wind patterns.

Stratospheric balloons also take advantage of the fact that in the stratosphere, the wind blows in one direction at a height and another in a different direction. In this way, it is possible to control better the direction in which the balloons move.

Loon in other regions of the globe

Alphabet’s alliance with Telefonica in Peru is not the first of the Loon project in the world. 

In July 2015, Google announced that Sri Lanka would be the first country to have an Internet network through its stratospheric balloons. This project did not prosper because the radio spectrum requested by the company was already in use for other purposes in the country. In December 2016, the project was abandoned.

Loon had better luck in Oceania. In New Zealand, the company allied with Vodafone, while doing the same with Telstra in Australia. In these countries, the company helps mobile operators to cover the areas they cannot reach, such as most of the rural areas.

As in Peru, Loon has already signed an agreement with Telkom Kenya to bring the connection to the rural areas of the African country.

In Brazil, Loon worked with operators Vivo and Telebras to offer connections to areas with no Internet service in the country. 

Loon has proven to be an effective solution in emergencies. After the passage of Hurricane Mary in Puerto Rico in 2017, the company collaborated with AT&T and T-Mobile to restore communications. 

Loon has also been doing tests in Peru for a while, and since 2017 he has helped in the disasters. When the tremor was in May 2019 and in collaboration with CenturyLink – the company with the permits to manage the E-band in Peru -, Loon provided an Internet connection to the areas that were held incommunicado by the cataclysm, as it also did after the floods that the country experienced in 2017.

The executive president of Telefónica in Peru, Pedro Cortez, mentioned that both companies collaborate since 2014 to test the technology.

Loon Alastair Westgarth CEO stressed that the company would not be where it is without Peru. “After years of testing in the country, we have achieved many programs that prove that our technology connects people in need and accelerates the growth of our business.

So far, permits have been the main problem Loon has faced to spread. Alliances with mobile operators have allowed him to overcome these problems, and he is now at a critical moment to demonstrate the viability of his project.

Greater connection, the key to higher growth

According to analysis, increasing Internet coverage by 10% increases the Gross Domestic Product of a country by 1.4%. For this reason, the rapid expansion of a telecommunications network is one of the priorities of Latin American governments. 

Loon and Alphabet’s efforts in Peru are not isolated. In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador declared his intention to extend the Internet to the most remote areas of the country using the fiber optic of the Federal Electricity Commission. Facebook has set its sights on Mexico and Brazil to boost its satellite Internet initiative.

As Teresa Gomes mentioned, the challenge of connecting millions of Latin Americans includes reaching areas of difficult access with innovative and sustainable technologies that allow us to overcome geographical, technological, and economic complexities.

With the arrival of 5G, the connection in rural areas will be even more critical. A reliable infrastructure will be necessary to boost Agrotech and meet the goals of sustainable development for all. Crazy ideas from High-Tech companies like Loon are required to achieve these goals.

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IT Development Shop

Magento: Why retailers prefer this eCommerce platform?

More and more online stores base their sites on Magento. What features make this e-commerce platform so attractive to retailers?

Your clients visit your business less and less. They spend so much time on their smartphones and their computers that they no longer walk around the mall to appreciate your merchandise. You know it: love is born from sight, but how can you make them fall in love if they don’t turn to see you for having their eyes fixed on the monitors of their devices? 

You must modernize and go where your customers are: on the Internet. It sounds simple. But everyone seems to speak another language: HTML 5, PHP, SEO, etc.

Magento takes you by the hand on your way to the Web. This open-source platform has become preferred for both small businesses, startups, large retailers, and prestigious brands such as Samsung and Nike. A quarter of online stores prefer it. These are some of its characteristics that have enchanted both small and large businesses: 

Datasheet 

  • Type of tool: Software for e-commerce 
  • Name: Magento 
  • Developer: Magento, Inc. 
  • First version: March 2008 
  • Last stable version: Magento 2.3.2, which is released on 2019-06-25. 
  • Programming language: PHP 
  • Operating system: Multiplatform 
  • Type: Content management system. 
  • Software for a shopping cart.

Magento features

Magento is the content management platform for e-commerce preferred by retailers. This tool has reached its popularity thanks to the scalability it offers to businesses. That is, thanks to Magento, e-commerce can go from being a small business to selling on a large scale without having to increase its operating costs significantly.

Scalability is one of the main attractions of Magento, but it is not the only one. This tool offers a series of functionalities that optimize the operations of online sellers, such as:

  1. Responsive design: Magento offers an adaptable design to the Web and mobile devices, which reduces investment in web development.
  2. Design customization: The image is part of a company’s brand. With this in mind, Magento allows users to modify the design of the platform, also offering great flexibility to make changes.
  3. Multiplatform option: Another advantage of Magento is the possibility of managing several stores from the same Administration Panel. This feature offers business opportunities for those who want to provide an outsourcing service for businesses.
  4. Advanced management of customers, orders, and sales.
  5. Complete administration of the catalog and product sheet. In addition to inventory and stock control.
  6. Internationalization support: Magento allows retailers to think about international sales, with the possibility of adding several languages, currencies, etc.
  7. Configuration of multiple forms of payment and shipping.
  8. Adapted to search engines. The Magento control panel allows you to modify and improve the content to optimize SEO results.
  9. Easy integration with social networks. Communicate with your customers where they are: on social networks. Magento makes it easy to create electronic publications on these sites.
  10. Marketing tools This platform also offers Marketing tools that have proven effective for e-commerce, such as cross-selling, suggested products, related products, product reviews and ratings, discount coupons and promotions, advanced statistics, report creation, etc.

Two stores that use Magento

These are some examples of Tienas online that have used Magento to create a new online sales channel.

Missbaby.com

Online store for baby clothes. The store highlights content on the home page, while it has a featured products section. It also includes a blog on the site of the page, which helps improve SEO results.

Loewe

Fashion store with international sales. The store’s design is designed to highlight the products, with a discreet menu bar next to it that allows you to explore categories in the store.

How to get Magento?

From the Magento website, the company offers several solutions for businesses according to their turn, whether it is a B2B or a small company that wants to make its digital transformation.

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IT Development

Flutter innovates in web development

Flutter is a kit for the UI software development by Google. Flutter is developed with open-source and is used for the development of applications for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Google Fuchsia and the Web. The first version of Flutter had the code name of “Sky” and worked with the Android operating system. Flutter has been developed under four pillars: attractive, fast, productive and open. Flutter offers ample development possibilities, such as 60 fps animations. At the WeAreDevelopers Congress, Martin Aguinis and Matt Sullivan presented some of Flutter’s features to thousands of developers and how this application can be used to work in web development.

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IT Development Startups

These are the 10 startups participating in the Google Launchpad Accelerator LATAM

After a multi-week selection process involving more than 120 startups in Latin America, Google chose the ten companies to support in the winter edition of Launchpad Accelerator.

Launchpad Accelerator Manager for Latin America Francisco Solsona announced the names of these startups last Friday in the Google Developers blog. These newly created companies come from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, and the United States.

Diversity in market segments

The diversity of the ten selected companies not only resides in their country of origin. These startups belong to different market segments such as banking and finance, professional services (legal, insurance, accounting, human resources, marketing), hospitality, automotive / transportation, retail, electronic commerce, construction / real estate, among others.

The selected startups are: 

  • 123Seguro (Argentina): A digital insurance agent that offers a combination of insurance comparison, transparency, and advisory services. It is the leader of the Argentine market and is available in Chile and Colombia.
  • AI Turing (Colombia): Supervises the commercial strategy for PPC companies through AI models, and helps them strengthen their business strategies.
  • Apli (Mexico): A recruitment automation solution based on conversational AI. 
  • Casai (Mexico): Properties fully furnished and designed with the best services and operations for the client, is marketed through Airbnb.
  • DevF (Mexico): This EdTech Startup promotes inclusion and accessibility. They use agile education programs that develop digital + soft skills, and then connect these people with job opportunities in the technology sector and industry.
  • Hugo (El Salvador): Hugo is a technology, delivery, and transportation company based in El Salvador that operates in Central America and is rapidly expanding in LATAM.
  • Jetty (Mexico): Jetty is a private collective transport application with routes optimized to bring people from home to work and back. They offer an income and operations management platform and works to improve the travelers’ experience while they travel.
  • Jüsto (Mexico): This startup is a 100% digital supermarket. The company works to lead the transformation of the supermarket industry and give Mexican households access to higher quality products with time and money savings.
  • Odd Industries (Chile): This platform helps its clients obtain, decrypt, and distribute information. They create data using proprietary hardware, such as robotic cameras in situ, process images along with other data sources. They use machine learning algorithms to generate metrics that help make decisions in real-time.
  • TransparentBusiness (USA): Platform designed to help its clients increase the productivity of freelance collaborators, allow coordination and monitoring of the workforce and provide real-time information on the cost and status of all tasks and projects 

Launchpad Accelerator Winter Edition

The winter edition of the Launchpad Accelerator, a program focused on startups in the growth stage from throughout Latin America, will last three months. This acceleration program will take place from October to December 2019.

“The selected companies have passed a rigorous evaluation process of more than 120 startups throughout Latin America.”

Francisco Solsona, Manager of Launchpad Accelerator for Latin America

The ten startups will now have the opportunity to prioritize and solve problems of their companies and products. They will receive the support of dozens of mentors and speakers on business issues; marketing, branding and public relations; organizational culture, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, Google Adds, Google Cloud and Android Play, among other technologies. Also, they will have the support of different Google teams, which will help them boost their growth, infrastructure, management, and leadership in a short and intense time. 

“The ten selected companies represent the best of the talent, ability, and willingness of Latin American companies to solve problems in the region,” said Solsona.

Entrepreneurs participating in the program will have the opportunity to learn from the best to scale their products, overcome technological challenges and establish a connection with entrepreneurial networks in the region and Silicon Valley, to consolidate the growing generation of innovators in Latin America. 

This initiative, developed in partnership with Centraal and TheVentureCity, responds to the need to consolidate a robust ecosystem of Latin American startups for the rest of the world. This task brings significant benefits for the community, such as the creation of new jobs, as well as a positive social and economic impact.

Hispanic entrepreneurs: from the United States to Argentina

“To carry out this program for all Spanish-speaking countries from Mexico to Argentina, including the Latino community in the United States and the Caribbean; It feels like a dream come true, because it gives us the opportunity to attract attention to the great work that Latin American entrepreneurs and developers are doing, ”said Francisco Solsona, manager of Google Developers in Latin America.

With the support of Google, these teams will have the opportunity to work with international experts, exchange experiences with local entrepreneurs, and recognize market opportunities over three months. They will have three weeks of face-to-face work, or bootcamps, to be held in Centraal Ciudad de Mexico, Google Argentina in the city of Buenos Aires and TheVentureCity campus in the city of Miami.  

At the end of the program, these startups will be part of the prestigious international alumni group of Google Launchpad Accelerator, where they will join other Latin American companies of global scale such as Quinto Andar, Telemedicine Portal, Creditas, Platzi, Konfio, Ualá, La Haus, Kichink, Compare Online, Cloud Store, and Miroculus, among others.

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IT Development

Internships spark great careers (case study: Blue Trail Software)

In Latin America, most of the school system is disconnected from the professional world, according to Jürgen Weller, a researcher at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The education system in the region has a limited ability to adapt to the needs of companies, leading many students to end their studies without the preparation and skills required by their professional field.

One out of every five young Latin American is jobless according to figures from the International Labor Organization (ILO). This is not an employment shortage issue since half of the Latin American companies have problems finding the talent that they need, according to the ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage research. While we wait for the rusted politics of Latin America to slowly fix this issue, many companies developed their own internship programs to build their own bridge between education and work 

Why internships work

Internships increase productivity, promote innovation, are relevant to the supply and demand for skills, and offer an opportunity for professional development for young people, according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). The IADB reported, after comparing data from the World Bank and the ILO, that in countries where there are more apprentices/interns per one thousand workers, there is a higher probability for young people to easily find a job. In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the youth unemployment rate remained low despite the 2008 subprimes crisis.

For companies, internship programs are a valuable resource to discover new talents. According to a survey prepared by the HR powerhouse Manpower, 81% of the surveyed employers would recommend other employers also to hire interns, while 84% said they were happy with the programs that existed in their companies.

In Mexico, the new government frameworked an internship program, “Jóvenes Construyendo un Futuro” (Youth Building a Future), to help domestic companies recruit interns, a program that received mainly criticism to this day. Its lack of professional relevance for interns has been the main downside of this program. According to a report from Animal Político, the companies contributing training are not innovative enough and therefore provide only limited technical skills to interns.

Tech companies have developed their own internship programs to find talents and sustain their development. Large technology companies such as Intel, Google, or IBM offer very elaborate internship programs in Mexico, but also medium-sized software development companies such as Planet Media, Blue Trail Software, or Gingroup.

Software internships? Speak English

The IADB offers year-round, winter and summer internships programs. At Oracle in Argentina, internships last twelve months, and the students invest four hours of their time in the facilities of the Parque Austral de Pilar, where they participate in an eight-stage program that includes training through online tutorials. Interns must be engineering students. Intel also offers a wide array of internships with requirements varying upon on the position. 

This plentiness of internship programs is a make-believe, because there is a catch to those job opportunities: They all require a proficient level of English. The lack of proficiency in English can be a barrier for many skilled software developers. With this in mind, Blue Trail Software offers English classes to the interns who excelled in the technical interview but performed poorly with their English test.

The right internship

Internship programs vary from one company to another, even within the same industry. Location, schedule, and training program are some characteristics that the applicant must take into account in an internship. A prestigious company will not necessarily be the best choice.

For example, Google is a company where many software developers would like to work. However, internships offered in Mexico are in the areas of sales, technical support, or marketing, and they are just available in Mexico City for students enrolled in a Mexican university. With this in mind, for a self-taught software developer outside Mexico City, it is more convenient to look for an internship program more in line with his professional interests.

Case study: Internships @ Blue Trail Software

In Tepatitlán, a Mexican town near Guadalajara, Blue Trail Software offers internships that last six to eight months, with a vacancy for fifteen new interns every year. 

A typical 8-hour day will be split in two:

  • Theoretical learning led by the senior developers of the company. They teach programming techniques, group organization, leadership, and methodologies for software development, such as SCRUM and TDD (test-driven development).
  • Practical training on the machines: The more advanced students begin to train as Full-Stack junior developers, while the others learn about quality assurance (QA) to become junior engineers in QA Automation.

There is no age limit to pursue an internship with Blue Trail: the company is willing to train anyone with the required skills and willingness. A prior knowledge of any specific programming languages is not required either. 

The commitment of the company to develop opportunities with interns currently faces two challenges. One is the gender balance at the time of recruitment. Thanks to a program called Women Connect and active in Guadalajara, the company is able to reach out to a broader women labor force. Another challenge is attracting interns despite its remote location, so the company also rents a house for interns, making it affordable for those living in other states of Mexico to join Blue Trail’s internship program.

At the end of the program, Blue Trail Software ask interns to develop an app from scratch to show they’ve reached a full development autonomy. An in-house performance tracking system was developed to enable the company to measure the progress of employees hired through the internship program.

Early birds catch the worms

Around the world, internships have proven to be an effective way for the young workforce to move from education to the profession. However, Interns must ensure that the programs in line with their ambitions, and companies must ensure that their internship programs help students in their career. According to data from the Association of Colleges and Employers, students in the United States who participated in internships are 60% more likely to receive an offer of employment, because companies offered students a training curriculum that increased their chances to later find a job.

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Government IT Development

The fourth revolution reaches the Latin American countryside

The most critical revolutions in Latin America happened in the countryside. The Latin American fields have witnessed social inequalities, but also justice claims. Now, a new revolution is being developed from the Argentine pampas to the Rio Grande. The leader is the Internet of Things (IoT).

The fourth technological revolution is coming to the countryside with sensors to predict the rain, monitors that show the characteristics of the soil, moisture meters. All these devices would be linked to a big data platform that would analyze and interpret the results with Artificial Intelligence. The AgTech in Brazil and Argentine shows how they can be used.

Modernization of the field in Latin America would have a global impact

Innovations in the field would have an economic impact on the world, not only in Latin America. Since 2000, the region has surpassed North America as the main exporter of agricultural products in the world. In most products, Latin American countries have a surplus and, according to forecasts, the region’s export quota will grow 25% by 2028.

The IoT would drive this trend. These technologies bring new possibilities in the management of rural production. Satellites with more accessible services allow crop monitoring. Modern harvesters let you know productivity by field (unit by area). Smart irrigation solutions measure the level of water in the soil to avoid waste and reduce expenses. The main economic powers of the region have begun to take the first steps for this revolution.

The governments of Brazil and Argentina have promoted the use of this technology in recent years. Brazil has presented pilot projects to promote the technologies of the field in the country, while Argentina plans a reform in its legislation that allows reducing the costs of the technological devices. The revolution is just beginning.

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Government IT Development

Argentina must eliminate barriers to the expansion of IoT in the countryside

Argentina’s agricultural sector exports an average of $40 B a year. This makes it an ideal laboratory for the development of new technologies focused on increasing productivity and facilitating the decisions of agricultural workers.

Argentina has had success stories in the modernization of the countryside. After adopting biotechnology, agricultural production went from 40Mt in 1990, to 120Mt at present. Now, the country hopes to achieve similar results with the IoT.

“Satellite and remote sensing technologies have been used in Argentina for some time. Producers are eager for technology, “said Gervasio Pineiro, professor of the faculty of agronomy at the University of Buenos Aires and a researcher at Conicet, an organization dedicated to the promotion of science and technology.

The large local agricultural producers, which constitute about 10% of the total, use cutting-edge technologies; another 40% make partial use of innovations, while the remaining 50% do not use them, Pineiro estimates.

The software uses a range of satellite images and applications from smartphones to nanosensors, for example, that measure soil conditions and connect remotely to artificial intelligence systems that, thanks to the information collected, can generate parameters according to Past and recorded events, which allows us to anticipate problems.

Currently, there are some Argentine companies that promote the use of this technology. “But agricultural producers consider what technology to incorporate based on the profits they receive. They are willing to try, but if it is very complicated and the profits do not increase, they will return to their traditional system, “Pineiro warns.

AgTech startups in Argentina

In Argentina, a variety of companies already offer products and services developed in IoT for different tasks. In agriculture, there are developments for monitoring soil, temperature, irrigation, harvesting, and fertilization, among other areas; while in livestock there are solutions for monitoring, feeding, sanitation and reproduction.

One of the most successful emerging companies is SmartCultiva, which exports equipment to 18 countries, among which the United Arab Emirates represents 80% of its market. By using nanosensors, it allows producers, both in the field and in greenhouses, to obtain real-time data on temperature, humidity levels, light levels, CO2 levels, pH, total dissolved solids, oxygen in the water and other parameters.

It works by deploying 26 nanosensors in the field (powered by solar panels), which collect data and then send it, via GPRS, 4G, radiofrequency or WiFi, to a cloud platform that processes them and presents them to decision-makers.

Martín Bueno, the co-founder of SmartCultiva, who also participates with his sensors in the NASA project to bring humans to Mars in 2030, points out that, for example, those who grow wheat are interested in knowing the soil moisture at three levels different. ; and those who have vineyards need to know the altitude, soil moisture, and relative humidity. For this reason, there are sensors with specific characteristics that collect the information required for different types of agriculture.

Good stresses that technicians or agronomists in the field are key to defining what type of sensor should be used and what information should be collected. “They are the ones who are going to decide that an alarm should sound when the temperature is exceeded or when the pH level is higher. We provide the system and it is the agronomist who molds it according to needs. We do not advise you on how to proceed, decide what should be done. “

In March Expoagro 2019 was held, the largest agribusiness show in the region. There, the main innovations in machinery and technology received awards, among which there were also IoT developments. MuSensor for precision livestock, from the company Campo Preciso. This system includes smart collars to monitor animal health and detect heat, disease, behavior, and activity.

Another company, Kilimo, received an award for an IoT device that produces a water balance for each lot, in addition to the soil analysis that, through the application of Big Data, recommends strategies according to the needs at each specific point on the earth.

There are still few AgTech companies in Argentina

The number of local technology companies linked to the field is low compared to what is happening in other sectors, such as fintech, commerce or logistics, according to the study ‘The Agrotech Revolution in Argentina’, published by the IDB and the CREA group in 2018 .

The slow development in Argentina corresponds to three factors:

  • High prices on technological products at the regional level, which limits the adoption of sensors and wireless connectivity.
  • Low speed on 4G connections, according to OpenSignal. Even the 5G network will not be a priority for companies, which will seek to improve and expand 4G before adopting 5G.
  • The scalability of enterprises, as they are limited to physical conditions such as soil characteristics, climate, as well as the particularities of agricultural workers.

Pedro Vigneau, deputy secretary of agribusiness markets of the Ministry of Production, said that a law on the “knowledge economy” is necessary to allow the development of the agricultural industry in the country. The government will present to the congress a bill on tax exemptions for companies in the “knowledge industry”, that is, in the areas of software, biotechnology, robotics, audiovisual, export consulting services, artificial intelligence, and video games, among other segments.

Despite the economic crisis that Argentina is going through, the agricultural industry is expected to produce a record harvest this year and continue to lead exports. With the changes mentioned above, the interest of entrepreneurs in developing new and better tools to take full advantage of this key area of the economy.

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Government IT Development

AgTech in Brazil is at an early stage

Although several of AgTech technologies are beginning to be adopted in Brazil, the country is still at an early stage in the use of IoT, according to the head of the agricultural informatics unit of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), Silvia Massruhá.

The head of Embrapa considers that Brazil’s challenge is the fact that they already have many types of devices. “But they are not connected because there is no connectivity in the field, or because the data is heterogeneous, or because there is no way to integrate into the application,” she explains. According to the IIC 2018 household survey conducted by the Internet Steering Committee, while the percentage of Brazilians connected in urban centers reaches 80%, in rural areas it is 59%.

Embrapa has started pilot projects for Brazil. One of them focuses on the monitoring of pests and diseases. By monitoring and forecasting the weather with the use of weather stations, the objective is to prevent the incidence of Asian rust in soybeans. “The system will be given the correct date to apply the pesticide depending on the weather, in an intersection with the disease data. We will measure whether this helped reduce costs and increase productivity,” explains Silvia Massruhá.

Another project, also coordinated by this public company, involves the optimization of known ways in the “crop, livestock and forest integration” sector. This methodology would allow a soybean producer, for example, to find other uses for the soil, such as planting pastures for cattle during the time the land remains dormant.

The IoT systems in the pilot project will measure various aspects of this integration. The oxen will have implanted chips and, through this equipment and others (such as scales), the data will be crossed with other aspects, such as food, to identify their development and the best moment of sacrifice. The test will be carried out with producers in five states: Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, Sao Paulo, and Piaui.

In Rio Grande do Sul and Minas Gerais, a third pilot project seeks to optimize milk production, with procedures such as livestock feed monitoring and milking automation. In the end, milk will be compared with others without the adoption of these technologies to assess whether these solutions have improved the quantity and quality of the product.

The CPQD technology development center carries out a project with an agricultural company that installs sensors on tractors and other equipment to monitor machine performance. The system will track the distance traveled, fuel consumption and any problems to identify maintenance demands.

“Imagine if you are in the middle of the field and the machine breaks down. The producer has to stop the harvest, remove the machine, and send another. If it is possible to take all their data and predict that they have a very high possibility of rupture, the person can request maintenance before something happens,” explains CPQD innovation director Paulo Curado.

Challenges in public policies in Brazil

Researchers, people in business, and authorities point out that agriculture is one of the sectors where IoT technologies are experiencing a faster evolution. “There is a lot of potential in Brazil for agriculture. It is one of the priority areas and is strengthening in the coming years,” says the president of the Brazilian Association of Internet of Things (Abinc), Flávio Maeda.

The area was chosen as a priority in the National Internet of Things Plan, launched in June. The document describes generic guidelines, without going into details about what measures state agencies will take to stimulate these technologies in the field.

The proposals and projects will be prepared by a group created for this purpose, called Câmara Agro 4.0. Directed by the Ministries of Agriculture (MAPA) and Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications (MCTIC), it will also have the participation of other agencies, researchers and industry associations and companies in the country.

According to the secretary of innovation, rural development and irrigation of MAPA, Fernando Camargo, the members will evaluate actions on several fronts. The most important thing will be the expansion of connectivity in rural areas, given the territorial extension and the contingent of people still outside the Internet in these places. According to the ICT Households 2017 survey conducted by the Internet Steering Committee, while the rate of households with access to the web is 65% in urban regions, in rural areas it drops to 34%.

The Chamber should also focus on programs to encourage the acquisition and dissemination of innovative technologies. One of them is to stimulate the creation and growth of technological startups. The objective with the dissemination of these technical solutions is to increase productivity in the field. Currently, there are 338 AgTech startups in Brazil.

“We need to encourage startups to increase the production chain within the area of agribusiness.” 

Marcos Pontes, head of MCTIC.