Monthly articles with valuable info to strengthen your team force
November 6, 2018
Three Indicators (And One Case Study) That Shows Peruvian Talent in the Software Development Industry Is a Reality
When you hear the phrase “software development talent” is likely that you associate it with top-ranked colleges in USA, Canada or Europe such as the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), the University of Toronto or the University of Cambridge which are well-known for their outstanding curricula and high-level education in Computer Science. Maybe you relate it to top firms in these countries like IntellectSoft (USA), imageX (Canada) and iTransition (UK) which have several multinationals corporations in their client directory as well as recognition from credible organizations like Clutch, GoodFirms and Inc.500.
Perhaps you don’t even associate this phrase with universities or particular companies, but instead relate it to a specific place like Silicon Valley which has become the home of world-renowned and leading technology companies like Apple, Google and Facebook. Many other possible connections can occur to you when someone says talent in software development, but it’s almost certain that Peru won’t come to your mind.
Peru may not be considered a cradle of technology or the motherland of world-renowned tech companies, but there sure is a talent pool that may be fit for your project. Today, we will take a look at three indicators that show the level of interest and talent in software development you may find in Peru.
High Demand of IT Programs by High School Seniors
At present, out of 142 Peruvian universities around 50 percent have IT-related programs such as computer engineering, computer science and software engineering. This percentage is not only a clear reflection of the great popularity that the IT sector has among high school students, but also shows the high demand of jobs available for these professions. If we take into account the importance that technology has been gaining in the past years, it’s to be expected that the popularity of related fields has skyrocketed among young people: after all, nowadays, a wide variety of industries need a website, a dashboard, a database, a mobile app and so on.
Given the considerable quantity of Peruvian colleges that offer IT programs, high school seniors —who are sure of entering this world— can take their pick from a wide array of educational institutions. This also means that teenagers can opt for a university that fits their current economic situation, as well as take into consideration other factors in order to make the most convenient decision.
In Peru, the graduates further and complement their education when they get their first job at a company —mostly on the practical side of their career given the nature of the profession—. In their first and subsequent jobs, they have the opportunity to take part in real projects, collaborate with multidisciplinary teams, participate in workshops and make the most of the training the company provides.
As technology keeps progressing, it’s only logical for companies —and individuals— that belong to the industry to also move forward: if they want to keep up, they need to be informed of the latest IT advancements. This is the main reason why Peruvian companies take the time to deepen the education of their IT personnel.
A Great Number of IT-related Events for Undergraduates
In Peru, there is definitely an increasing interest in Computer Science. There are not only a great number of educational institutions that offer related programs, but also a wide variety of technology-centered gatherings like conferences, seminars, workshops, colloquiums, hackathons, etc. Most of the time, even though these events are organized by universities that have an Information Technology faculty, they are open to the general public. So, although most of the attendees tend to be undergraduates of the college holding the event, it’s not uncommon to find students of different universities in these academic gatherings.
But not only private educational institutions organize and hold technological events. The government has also noticed the various positive uses technology has, reason why it has started promoting hackathons focused mainly on social responsibility, sustainable development and other humanitarian topics. Just a few months ago —in July—, the Congress held the First Parliamentary Hackathon which main objective was the creation of interrelation mechanisms between the civil society and the legislative authority as a way of strengthening democracy. The First Parliamentary Hackathon was held from July 20th to 22nd of 2018.
Apart from governmental institutions, civil organizations have also jumped on the bandwagon and have held hackathons. One notable example is the yearly hackathons organized by the Technology and Innovation Committee of the National Mining Society. In its third edition, universities from different parts of the country participated in the hackathon which focus was the development of technological proposals to improve or solve a current problem of the mining sector. At present, the registrations for its fourth edition are open.
Thanks to the diversity of IT activities, young people can be informed about current topics in their area of interest, learn about new technologies and even put their knowledge to test by participating in real small-scale projects.
Current Talent and Creativity in the Field
But enthusiasm for technology is not the only thing Peruvians possess: there are also talented and creative people in the IT field. Private institutions have taken notice of this fact and have begun to support and promote the growth of the IT sector. One of them is Wayra, a start-up accelerator which was founded in Latin America and Spain in 2011 as an initiative of Telefónica —a multinational broadband and telecommunications provider with branches in several countries—. Through Wayra, select start-up companies receive funding, office space and mentoring, as well as a connection to local and venture capitalists and access to special benefits from technological services like PayPal, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, among others.
Since its creation, Wayra has supported top start-ups in Peru like Crehana —an online community that offers short paid-courses for professionals working in creative fields—, JoinnUs —an online platform where organizers can publish and manage all sort of events, in turn, interested users can find related information and buy tickets easily— and Chazki —an online platform that allows suppliers to offer express delivery services by connecting delivery people to businesses. Both, the supplier and the end customer can track the order in real time while the delivery affiliates can find the fastest route to their destination through the mobile app.
Another noteworthy example of a successful Peruvian start-up is the case of Cinepapaya, an online platform to buy movie tickets in different cinemas. The mobile application provides showtime information and other movie-related content. Cinepapaya received funding from the US accelerator 500 Startups in its early stages, enabling the startup to expand to other Latin American countries like Chile and Colombia just in its first years of operation. The thriving start-up was acquired by Fandango in late 2016.
Not only private organizations offer financing and mentoring to Peruvian entrepreneurs. In 2012, the Ministry of Production founded StartUp Peru, an initiative which primary aim is to promote the emergence and consolidation of enterprises centered around the creation of innovative products and services that involve technology at some level. In this manner, StartUp Peru has a series of contests and financing modes available for entrepreneurs, businesses in their early years and incubators.
Despite the novelty of start-ups in Peru, there already are national public and private organizations willing to help and support entrepreneurs, as well as talented and enthusiastic designers and developers who can turn that idea into a reality.
The Case of zAgile
It’s true that Peru is not a very common destination for software companies looking to outsource projects or augment their staff. However, it’s a fact that there are businesses that do choose Peru as an outsourcing provider. The definitive aspect that has favored Peru varies depending on the specific company —however, in this same article we have mentioned a few reasons that may be common ground for some companies—, so we will focus on the most remarkable case: zAgile.
zAgile is a software company located in California that provides innovative solutions to improve interdepartmental collaboration between teams, optimizing their business processes as a whole along the way. Founded in 2006, zAgile has been developing software to integrate tools, applications and processes as well as to unify vital information for all departments that are part of a company.
In all these years the company has been developing different products to improve the interdepartmental cooperation within an organization. At present, the company has four products in its catalog:
zAgile is an entrepreneurship of Sanjiva Nath, an expert in Enterprise Information Management with more than 30 years of experience in software technology. His main area of focus has been the development and deployment of enterprise applications and systems on a variety of technologies and platforms. Throughout his career he has been Vice President of Engineering for a number of companies such as Trigo Technologies —acquired by IBM in 2004—, ePit Systems —technology acquired by Hitachi on 2001— and planet U —technology acquired by 1WorldSync in 2001—. He also had the opportunity to work as Director of Development in IBM in 2004 as it was part of the acquisition agreement of Trigo Technologies by the former company.
Despite his impressive resumé, Sanjiva’s formal education was not even related to technology. After finishing high school in his country of birth, India, he traveled to the United States and enrolled in San Francisco State University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Cell & Molecular Biology. It wasn’t until 1982 when Sanjiva discovered the strong affinity he had with computers when he bought his first one. He was so fascinated with the device’s utilities that only two years later, in 1984, he was already working as a software engineer for a small tech company.
The vision behind zAgile began to take shape in 2005 when —after more than 20 years working in the software sector—, Sanjiva already had ample experience to contemplate about the various problems and shortfalls he had encountered in the industry throughout his productive career. He narrowed it down to four main issues he wanted to improve, all of them centered around the integration of tools, processes and information in software engineering environments throughout all their lifecycle.
Given that zAgile’s core is the effective distribution of knowledge and other resources when several teams are working simultaneously on the same project, Sanjiva had, since the beginning, the intention of outsourcing the development of the software to other countries. Initially, Sanjiva had looked for development teams in Eastern Europe, but he was still unconvinced due to cultural and linguistic gaps. However, by chance, he came in contact with a delegation of Chilean business leaders in Silicon Valley and started to seriously consider the possibility of working with a distributed team in Latin America. After a few months traveling around South America, he returned to the US with the contact information of several developers’ teams interested in his idea.
Originally, zAgile’s software development was entrusted only to undergraduate students from local universities in Chile and Brazil, who collaborated on the project remotely —just as Sanjiva had envisioned—. Later, a Peruvian team was invited to participate in this venture by a professor that worked in the UC —Pontifical Catholic University of Chile—. This group of programmers were also undergraduate students of the UNSA —The National University of Saint Augustine—, a local college in the city of Arequipa.
Soon they realized the Peruvian team members had valuable qualities: great technical skills, a curious and autodidact nature, the drive to solve complex problems and the capacity to find real enjoyment in their work. Their performance and dedication were so outstanding that it was decided the Latin American remote headquarters for zAgile would be Arequipa. Their remote base has been operative for more than 10 years now and during that time more graduates from UNSA and other local universities have joined zAgile’s team.
Although Peru is giving its first steps as a software development outsourcer, it’s of significance that several upward trends happening at present may be beneficial for the growth of this industry in the country. It can be still some years before Peru has an innovation center or technological hub as Silicon Valley, but we definitely have the talent, enthusiasm and interest.
Every year, more teenagers are interested in following a career in Computer Science. Every year, there are more technology-related events where undergraduate students can further their understanding of some topics. Every year, there are more software development companies in Peru. Every year, this same enterprises are more aware of the essential that it is to keep up-to-date with trends and advancements in the computer science field. Every year, more foreign companies have reasons to trust Peru as a software development outsourcing partner.