The Global Information Technology Report 2013 has a special section dedicated to Colombia, Panamá and Uruguay. It states that these three countries “have become champions of e-government and connectivity. In Colombia, Internet connections have tripled to 6.2 million in the last 2.5 years”. This of course improves the quality of life of the Colombian people and speaks highly of the progress the country has made in terms of communications technologies.
This improvement is the result of a joint effort made over the last few years by the government and the private sector. The deficit Colombia perceived in terms of communications was due mainly to a lack of understanding between these two sectors. Once they started working together towards a mutual goal, they were able to create a central plan that aimed at a more significant penetration of the communications sector in the country. The result, as the Global Information Technology Report wrote, is a real triumph.
Tigo, one of the country’s most important communications providers, is a great example of how this industry is growing in Colombia.
“We have doubled our market share in the past five or six years. The last two years have been particularly good for us, both in the voice and data markets,” says Esteban Iriarte, President of Tigo Colombia. “We went from having 1,700 employees six years ago, to creating jobs for 6,000 people today.”
And as the industry grows, Tigo not only grows with it, but even outpaces it. “The telecommunications industry in Colombia is growing 6% to 7%, according to recent data. Our company, in the last four-month periods, has grown 18%. This means we tripled the market’s growth,” explains a confident Mr. Iriarte. The company has shown significant growth, even though the Colombian communications market is pretty much monopolized by Claro, another provider.
Tigo has a few tricks up its sleeve that make it the number one choice for many Colombians. Take innovation, for example. For Mr. Iriarte this means “always being one step ahead of our consumer.” To make his point, he talks about a few examples: “being the first to sell unlocked cell phones – before regulation required it – and having a music platform with over 25 million songs in Colombia. This means you can listen to music for over 195 years without ever listening to the same song twice. In fact, I defy you to enter our platform and try to find a song that isn’t there.”
Another very important detail that makes Tigo a great option is that with them you can create your own voice and data plan, the one that suits you the most. If you prefer texting to talking, you can have unlimited data so you can use applications like Whatsapp or BBM, and cut down on your voice minutes. “We call it ‘build your own plan’ and it helps each client find the perfect combination of minutes and data. We have over 50,000 combinations available,” says Mr. Iriarte.
The ‘build your own plan’ option is part of a larger philosophy that reigns in the company: the client is the main focus. “Our challenge is to take a good look at each of our consumers. This means you have to stop looking at yourself as a company and start looking at the clients, so you can identify their needs and adapt to them,” explains Mr. Iriarte.
It isn’t as simple as it sounds, however. “There are as many needs as consumers out there,” says the company president, adding that Tigo “has taken a step in trying to get ahead of the consumer in terms of innovation. If this means we have to shift, adapt or change our platforms, our style or our commercial plans, we are willing to do it.”
Their ability to adapt to the needs of the people that are using their services is what makes a difference.
Mr. Iriarte knows there is much work to be done, but he also takes pride in the important steps the company he leads has taken to provide a better service to its clients. And so, he advises: “Our growth is a message to all consumers. Take a good look at us. Something must be happening that people are choosing us.”