Aaron Rodriguez explains how to anticipate market trends by analyzing the consumer in social media

According to different data from annual studies of social networks, more than 85% of Internet users between 16 and 65 years old use social networks (around 20 million people). Taking this into account, it is more than evident that the internet and, in particular, social media provides companies with information that was not accessible before. This information can be based on marketing trends, which according to strategy optimization specialist Aaron Rodriguez, can be essential to anticipate what consumers are really looking for.

Understanding this is very simple. Currently, many of the conversations of Internet users are recorded on the web in different channels (much of this information is publicly available). With the help of monitoring tools, it is possible to access this and track key data.

Social listening allows you to have a real-time view of consumer behavior, make market analyses, detect consumer trends, and all this without having to invest huge resources of time, effort, or investment. Through a tool like this, you can monitor trends in search of features that can help different departments and stakeholders to predict what customers want and develop new products.

“This trend analysis can help sales and marketing departments to predict sales, adjust budgets and optimize advertising strategies and marketing plans,” says Rodriguez.

Monitoring Google searches allows you to know who your customers are and what they are most interested in from a brand’s universe. A recent study by Rodriguez examined the predictive power of searched keywords, giving insight into how marketers can better measure, analyze and apply Big Data to their efforts.

Rodriguez explains, “For example, an automotive company in the United States analyzed online search trends in order to compare the volume of searches related to a car’s features in relation to a car’s brand. The results concluded that feature searches were notably more accurate in forecasting sales.”

On many occasions, there have been talks about tracking consumer conversations on the internet. As you may realize, these conversations yield information not only about the brand but also about consumer habits.

If you want this data to help you detect trends, the idea is to collect as much information as possible about consumers, to get a broad picture of your audience, their behavior, preferences, tastes, feelings. This analysis can be done based on the different touchpoints of the customer journey.

When a key concept has a high number of mentions, it can be an indicator. Demographic profile and geolocation: by gender, age, geolocation, interests. The volume of mentions: analysis of mentions trends compare by period, same period last year, etc.

There is also sentiment which can become an indicator of the sentiment generated or the way in which consumers express themselves on a concept/topic. Influencers help you to detect the people who are generating the most buzz around a concept or topic, as well as their network of influence.

“When we talk about analyzing the competition, we refer specifically to looking at the reaction of your audience to various actions, for example how users of the competition receive a new product, or how they refer to the features of their products, everything will depend in part on the parameters you want to measure,” asserts Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has given two best practices that should be followed. The first is to choose similar campaigns or precedent actions that competitors have previously implemented to compare the same KPIs, to detect commonalities.

Second, you should detect the products that are top of mind for your consumers and those that have the highest visibility at the point of sale. Identify the channels with the greatest impact, as well as the terms that generate the highest volume of mentions.

Indicators on the visibility of your campaigns such as reach, share of voice, generated engagement, channels, influencers, and media network involved, generated hashtags, as well as the content created by your audience or UGC, are revealing insights into consumer habits.

“Social listening tools allow you to perform a competitive analysis of the sector,” Rodriguez suggests. “Ranking lists make it easy to detect common themes for all competitors in a market.”

In conclusion, let’s assume that major brands in the beverage industry want to know what consumers are saying about sugar-laden beverages. Ranking tags allow you to group all the conversations that refer to a particular topic and in this way, it is not only possible to see the volume of mentions generated, and therefore its relevance, but also whether it is associated with a particular brand.

Aaron Rodriguez explains the challenges Mexican businesses currently face

The last few years have been critical for trade globally, with the pandemic caused by COVID-19 being one of the main players in the changes. Aaron Rodriguez, a specialist with years of experience in global trade, explains the challenges facing trade in Mexico caused by the current crisis that has not yet completely disappeared.

“We must understand that countries like Mexico will have the challenge of rethinking their commercial and logistical processes in the face of this international panorama of uncertainty caused by the pandemic before COVID-19,” mentions Rodriguez.

According to Rodriguez and his specific analysis in the North American country, the arrival of COVID-19 unleashed a worrying context for world trade that has been weakening it greatly during the last few years. “Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the measures that the current governments have had to take, serious consequences were provoked in the main world economies,” asserts Rodriguez.

He also mentioned that this pandemic caused countries to begin to realize the fragility of global chains. In the specific case of Mexico, it made it rethink its dependence on major world powers such as the US.

Mexico has a large window of opportunity because regional chains are the main basis for accessing international markets. For the expert, Mexico has an important competitive advantage in being connected to US economies and will recover faster than Latin America and Europe.

“Mexico has agreements with many countries to generate free trade agreements which allow its economy to flow and compared to other countries such as China it is not going to slow down,” shares Rodriguez.

It is worth mentioning that the recovery of the current economy has been asymmetric, with recovery in Asia happening faster and in LATAM, but in this region, there is a lot of informal work, and “it is suffering” as many of those workers are in services, a sector that is worse off than the others.

The current economy is asymmetric, which means that the price mechanism fails to determine the proper allocation of capital. In financial markets, for example, adequate collateral, risk, and reputation (ability to pay) are more important than the interest rate.

There is an asymmetric downturn. The decline in Asia was less than in the United States, Europe, and Latin America and now, looking towards this year, some countries will continue to have problems.

The unemployment rate in Brazil rose to 13.3% in the April-June quarter two years ago. This represents a loss of 8.9 million jobs in the period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current situation may have improved, but negative numbers remain.

Some countries, such as Brazil, put in place government assistance to eradicate the poverty caused by the pandemic and Mexico has not generated that. Mexico’s situation is not bad compared to other countries but not as good as in Asia.

Rodriguez also considers that what we are currently experiencing is an acceleration to migrate to the digital part “it was already happening, but it was slow, at least, not so fast,” many companies were not prepared for this world that accelerated digitization as SMEs.

Also, it was noted that people’s behavior tends to opt more and more for digital purchases. People “trust” because they see that it is “easy” and possibly will prevail by finding speed and offers with respect to face-to-face purchases.

Regarding regional chains due to the global pandemic, Rodriguez mentioned that they are being strengthened throughout the Latin American region; this will be a pillar of regional integration for Mexico. Regional value chains are a productive chaining process involving two or more countries with productive affinity, territorial proximity, and commercial complementarity.

The problems generated by COVID mean that international transportation does not favor regional trade.” It was detected that transportation does not favor, so it can be determined that for regional integration to continue advancing, infrastructure and logistics must be part of the packages of measures for Mexico’s economic recovery,” Rodriguez points out.

Consequently, the generalized border closures due to the pandemic have led to a significant increase in production in the most representative sectors for Mexico, such as manufacturing.

Likewise, together with the tensions in trade relations between the US and China, these may be factors that could lead Mexico to position itself as the world’s leading manufacturer.

Mexico is facing a very challenging situation that is unknown for how long it will continue like this. Still, above all, it is a situation in which the country has to identify its areas of expertise and exploit them to the maximum. Finally, Rodriguez commented that in the face of an uncertain and more regionalized world economy, it is unavoidable for Mexico to deepen regional integration.

Aaron Rodriguez discusses how to improve the brand experience through the customer journey

Managing the brand experience is one of the most important branding tools to increase the competitiveness of a business. To improve this experience, one of the most powerful tools is the customer journey map. Aaron Rodriguez, an expert in business optimization, explains what this process is all about and how it improves the brand experience.

“The customer journey is a Design Thinking tool that makes it easy to reflect on a map each of the stages, interactions channels and all the elements that a customer goes through in their relationship with a brand,” Rodriguez explains. “It is, therefore, a key tool for understanding and improving the user experience.”

More and more companies are aware of the benefits of the customer journey in their business strategy. It is a methodology with a growing acceptance by all types of companies and institutions and is used in many business schools and in all types of professional services.

Generating a brand experience is essential to be able to compete in complex and variable markets. Based on this premise, it is also necessary to know the great benefits of the customer journey in your business strategy.

The concept of the customer journey is a design thinking term that describes the cycles of a customer’s interaction on some service, product, or brand. It can be described as the customer’s journey through their brand experience.

Design thinking makes it easy to understand all these interactions in a unified, visual, and operational diagram. The customer journey map is a very efficient design thinking methodology for the process of creation, analysis, improvement, and training.

With its different versions, such a tool helps to get as close as possible to the customer and to analyze how they think and what they want. In essence, understanding real needs and seeking to meet customer expectations is the best way to improve the customer experience.

This map measures and describes how they interact with the services or products they consume, how they discover them, how they use them, and how or how often they recommend them. It details each touchpoint and places them in the phase of that journey, whether it is discovery, consideration, decision, use, or display.

“Brand experience uses this type of work methods intensively because it is crucial to design products and services correctly so that they understand exactly the needs and feelings of the users,” Rodriguez details.

The key is to find empathy with customers, to understand how they feel throughout the buying process: welcomed, lost, frustrated, impatient, disoriented. It is important to use these research techniques that help to be in contact with users.

The customer journey approach is different when we think of user experience (UX) than when we think of branding. The customer journey, according to UX, has to do when the user is interacting with a brand platform. On the other hand, the customer journey from a branding perspective does not require this contact and refers to situations broader than a relational or transactional context.

In short, there is no UX apart from use or consumption, but there is branding apart from that. And that is precisely the strength that brand experience can bring to the user experience: it extends to many more contexts.

The customer journey should be used as a tool to design all the states that the user goes through and thus seek to improve their experience. Knowing the best customer experience means understanding the feelings that customers create with the brand and the product. Improving the brand experience means detecting areas for improvement and managing new opportunities to be relevant.

“A good user journey will allow us to observe the steps to be taken in the development of any service or product,” Rodriguez points out. “By carrying out this outline, we will be able to determine the satisfaction of the real needs of customers and align the brand experience we want to create.”

Behind this work, we find the market positioning, the corporate culture, the story we want to deploy, and the meanings with which we want to associate our brand because experience and meanings go hand in hand.

When a user experiences a link with the brand, it will remain engraved in him, and this sensation or experience can exist outside of purchase or use. This is what we call a brand experience.

For this reason, organizations must deploy their brand management in a large number of situations and opportunities. Customer perception is born from the sum of every action or experience (positive or negative), especially at the points of friction between what the brand says and what the brand delivers.

Aaron Rodriguez explains how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may impact Latin American trade

The beginning of the year has been marked in the international arena by the risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is added to other global problems that have been present since before, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Aaron Rodriguez, an expert in international trade, explains what impacts the Latin Americans would have with the arrival of this unfortunate event on the world side.

This potential confrontation seems distant for Latin America. However, it is not, because, in reality, NATO’s eventual backing of Ukraine and the probable sanctions would generate impacts on global financial markets with severe implications for the fragile recovery of post-pandemic world activity. Diplomacy is working to prevent this from happening, but the situation is still highly uncertain.

“The eventual invasion would initially generate an increase in market volatility and a greater demand for safe assets, where typically dollar-denominated assets and precious metals such as gold tend to benefit, acting as a refuge for investors fleeing from stock markets and, in general, from riskier assets,” Rodriguez explains. “In the latter group are the currencies, stock markets, and bonds of economists with relatively weaker fundamentals.”

In other words, in such a scenario, we would see stock market crashes, currency depreciation, restrictions on access to credit, and higher risk premiums in the region, which would make the cost of financing even more expensive for governments, companies, and individuals. This scenario would be particularly complex for the most indebted countries.

But it is not only the financial markets that would be negatively affected but also global growth. This is because an invasion scenario would divert all attention and resources to the conflict, slowing global demand, and trade.

Certainly, the intensity and involvement of more or fewer nations in a potential conflict would mark the intensity of the effect it would have on economic growth. This would certainly be negative for Latin America because the region would see reduced external momentum in circumstances where many countries have not yet recovered the level of production they would have had without the pandemic.

For its part, the conflict occurs in circumstances in which the world is facing an escalation of inflation. In this regard, Russia’s role in global energy markets will put even more upward pressure on oil and natural gas prices, which will increase upward price pressures on these essential goods for activities such as transportation, industry and electricity generation, among others.

Rodriguez points out that “Russia is one of the world’s largest oil producers and has the largest natural gas reserves globally. Hence its strategic importance, especially for Europe, due to that continent’s high dependence on its gas supply, which is accentuated in the northern winter months. However, Latin America is also suffering the effects of fuel price hikes, with increases in local gasoline and gas prices.”

In addition, Russia is the world’s leading wheat exporter and Ukraine is also one of the world’s leading wheat producers. Beyond Argentina, which is also one of the main global grain producers, the countries in the region are net importers. Consequently, a conflict between these countries would also raise food prices further.

All in all, depending on the magnitude and duration of a potential conflict, the negative effect on global activity would eventually dominate and the episode would have recessionary and disinflationary effects in the medium term.

In the political sphere, Russia maintains a particular closeness with China, which for the time being has kept out of this conflict, but which could be reactivated in a scenario in which other world powers intervene in the conflict. In turn, Russia maintains ties with some countries in the region, such as Venezuela, Cuba and Argentina.

Based on that, Rodriguez explains that “an escalation of the conflict would also generate an increase in political divisions in Latin America that would do nothing to foster collaboration between countries in the region, as well as the exchange of goods, services, and knowledge.”

Some Latin American countries that export oil, gas, or grains, such as Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina, could experience some short-term positive effects on the value of their exports. But the truth is that a conflict such as the one that could be generated in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine does not benefit the region at all. On the contrary, with such a conflict and its potential financial, economic, and political effects, we all lose.

Aaron Rodriguez discusses the challenges that impede the growth of a company

It is well known that dealing with the challenges that impede the growth of a company is not an easy task, but for that reason, it should not be a task to postpone. Many studies indicate that the mortality rate of SMEs is really high in most countries. Because of this, Aaron Rodriguez, an expert in business optimization, discusses in detail what are these challenges that prevent the growth of a company so that entrepreneurs can take appropriate actions and thus cope in a better way.

Statistically, it has been reported that on average, 80% of SMEs fail before they reach five years of age, and 90% do not reach ten years of age, which is disturbing data and can even be a source of fear for those who want to start their own business.

Leading an organization towards business growth is not easy, so Rodriguez has taken on the task of compiling, based on his experience with different clients and companies, what are the problems and challenges faced by a company to grow and be profitable.

The first business challenge has to do with a lack of planning. Many companies work on the fly without a well-defined plan, the lack of which makes it difficult to achieve growth objectives. Therefore, the company leader must give importance to the strategic planning process. This is the job of the company’s managers, who must define the company’s mission, vision, organizational culture, action plans, business objectives, business strategy, and budget.

“The consequences of not planning in companies are reflected in low productivity, low profitability, economic losses, lack of focus, etc.,” Rodriguez explains. “When you plan, you put your company in a position of power and leadership; not doing so, puts you on the opposite side of the scale.”

Other challenges that impede business growth have to do with underestimating the importance of having a good marketing plan. And when Rodriguez talks about “a good plan,” he means one that is primarily focused on customers and business objectives. The marketing department plays a very important role in the business strategy since they are responsible for executing processes and actions that result in generating leads for the sales team.

Rodriguez says, “The marketing plan is essential for those companies that want to monetize the sale of their products or services and gives us a concrete vision of what we really want to do, how we want to do it, and in what time frame we want to do it.”

Designing a marketing plan will make a difference, it not only helps you to know what is going on with the strategy, but it will also give you a clear direction of where you intend to go with your business.

As a consequence of not having a sales plan, the company cannot generate the income it really needs to finance the operation and strategies of the business. The lack of financial resources hinders the company’s ability to invest in its growth.

So, if you want to grow, you need to increase revenues, and this implies investing more, forcing companies to go into debt with banks. Therefore, when allocating resources, we should prioritize the goals and strategies needed to grow the company, instead of sticking to a budget that only limits the company’s growth.

Another challenge that hinders business growth has to do with defining strategies to attract, sell and retain customers and, at the same time, be profitable. This is the basis of the cycle for a company to maintain constant growth.

In many of the companies Rodriguez has encountered, it is all too common for the sales team to still be using old-guard strategies to acquire customers. These strategies include cold calling, visiting companies, sending out mailings with portfolios, handing out business cards, and so on. As a result, the sales goal is not met, the sales team feels frustrated, there is work stress, high salesperson turnover, annoyed prospects, low sales productivity.

As with the marketing plan, many companies do not have a sales plan with well-defined goals and objectives. “Dedicating time to the sales plan will allow the company to grow in a sustainable and safe way. With sales planning, we will be able to support the company’s growth in relation to revenues, know our customers’ needs, establish realistic objectives for the sales team and plan logistics,” Rodriguez assures.

Nowadays, technology plays a leading role in the processes that drive the development and growth of companies; marketing, sales, customer service, operations, etc. These are some of the most important and key processes for a company to enter the digital era.

Resisting change and not entering the digital era will only bring more challenges and difficulties for the company. In the not too distant future, it will be part of the list of companies that have disappeared for not adapting to the Internet era.

Aaron Rodriguez explains fundamental metrics to gauge the success of business practices

Project management metrics are very necessary and essential to implement practical and sustainable project management practices and processes in an organization. These metrics allow us to improve our understanding by simply removing uncertainty so that we can make a well-informed decision. Aaron Rodriguez, an expert in business optimization, has taken on the task of covering the metrics needed to gauge the success of practices performed in different companies.

Project management metrics are key to improving the way projects are managed and even delivered. The metrics help estimate cost and completion schedule along with greater accuracy over time.

There are several advantages that can be derived from them. “Project management metrics help us to measure or calculate and understand the maturity of the organization. They help manage projects and resources more effectively.

They are also essential for demonstrating year-over-year improvements in project management maturity. Over time, they provide information on how the process and product are gradually developing,” Rodriguez asserts.

Each and every company or organization needs unique metrics that can align and add value with its goal or objective. There are several steps necessary to be able to choose these metrics properly and Rodriguez has taken care to explain what they are.

“First, it is essential to know and understand the main purpose or objective or goal of the work project,” Rodriguez suggests. “Second, to determine and identify the critical factors that must be met in order to succeed and achieve the goal. And lastly, to take the critical factors for the program project and determine how to measure its completion.”

Today, there are several metrics available that help in modern process management. There are a few core metrics available that are essential and vital to all software projects. These metrics fall into two categories: management metrics and quality metrics.

All these metrics generally have two dimensions: static value that is used as a target and dynamic trend that is used to manage the main achievement of that particular target. These metrics are simply based on common sense and field experience with successful and unsuccessful metrics programs. Metrics that are generally cost-related demonstrate the value of the team.

The management indicators are divided into three subcategories. First are those of work and progress. This refers to the work being done over a given period of time. Your planning over the iteration means determining and discussing the planning of the next cycle, phase, or iteration.

Then there are those of budgeted cost and expense. These refer to the cost incurred over a given period of time. Your financial knowledge means understanding the implications with respect to the financial decisions being made today.

And finally, there are the dynamics of the staffing team: staffing changes occur during a given period of time. Your resource plan means allocating and utilizing resources simply to achieve the greatest efficiency from these resources.

“On the other hand, quality indicators are key performance indicators (KPIs) that are very critical during project delivery, Rodriguez explains. “These indicators must be carefully monitored to confirm and ensure that the team is working or performing on the right tasks.”

The change in traffic and stability over a given period of time is the first item in its subcategory. Their planning on iteration means determining and discussing the planning of the next cycle, phase, or iteration. They also indicate convergence schedule, which means to indicate convergence points in the schedule where two or more activities come together and explain the dependencies of the successor activity.

In addition, it also accounts for the interim between failure and maturity. This refers to the rate of defective furnaces given the period of time. Its purpose is to indicate the quality of the software the test coverage simply to measure and calculate the number of tests performed by a test suite.

Aaron Rodriguez explains how to properly manage a business improvement project

Competition in any business sector is increasing and customers are becoming more demanding. Add to this fierce competition, both internally and from emerging economies, and a complicated, uncertain, and turbulent fiscal and economic environment, and one conclusion is almost irrefutable: business improvement processes are not optional, but essential for the survival of a company or business. Aaron Rodriguez, an expert in business optimization, provides some key suggestions to properly manage a business improvement project.

A business improvement project can only be sustained by developing circuits based on continuous business improvement. Otherwise, at best, only small partial improvements without temporal continuity will be obtained, which will be quickly counteracted or surpassed by the competition.

Achieving business excellence is not an easy goal,” says Rodriguez. “It is a progressive process in which the organization as a whole must be involved, without backtracking and without losing sight of the company’s objectives and capabilities at any given moment.”

The keys to success in business improvement projects. The success of a business improvement project depends to a large extent on following some fundamental keys. One, for example, is the proper selection of the processes to be improved.

The company has to define the specific processes it is most interested in improving, according to the problems detected or evidenced. Once selected, they should be prioritized in order of importance.

The most common signs or alerts that can indicate the most suitable processes for improvement actions are customer claims or complaints, problems with suppliers, processes with excessive costs, high execution or response times, and loss of markets.

Visualization of problems, errors, or areas for improvement in a process or circuit by making a graphical representation is essential. “It is of utmost importance to form effective work teams,” Rodriguez suggests. “The real value of an improvement team is in the different professionals that make it up. The most suitable people should be selected for each project based on objective variables.”

Rodrigues refers to the experience in the process to be dealt with, knowledge of continuous improvement methodologies and tools, leadership capacity and empathy, motivation, and also availability.

There are several methodologies (such as the Six Sigma method) and tools (Pareto or cause-effect diagrams) to carry out continuous improvement processes. It is advisable not to take them as rigid rules to be strictly followed but as a flexible guide.

“It is important that the team members feel comfortable with the methodology used and for this, it is essential that they are provided with the appropriate training, depending on their role within the group,” says Rodriguez. “Consensus and alignment with the company’s objectives and characteristics are two aspects that should never be lost sight of in order to make the right choice.”

Just as important, if not more so, than the achievement of objectives is their periodic monitoring in order to be able to make the necessary corrections. For this reason, it is essential that the initially proposed objectives be measurable as quantitatively and accurately as possible. The commitment of top management must also be fundamental.

Although it may not seem like it, many improvement projects fail because, although there is great motivation among the managers and workers of a particular department, the same does not happen with the higher positions in the company structure.

This lack of commitment from the higher hierarchies prevents sufficient follow-up and continuity, which results in a lack of resources and abandonment of the project. It also makes it impossible for the improvement project to be transferred to other processes, departments, or circuits of the organization.

Aaron Rodriguez explains the importance of chatbots for business innovation

Attracting a new customer costs businesses five to 25 times more than retaining an existing one, which is why many choose to invest in business innovation strategies to improve the customer experience. Aaron Rodriguez, a business operations expert, is a firm believer that chatbots are an ideal solution, and through his knowledge of business optimization, he explains why.

According to a study recently conducted by the specialist, 80% of consumers are more likely to buy products that offer personalized experiences. And that’s something that can be achieved with chatbots, with the extra advantage of a significant reduction in response time.

A chatbot responds in seconds or minutes, whereas an email could take days and social media could take hours. But not every business has one. Chatbots use natural language processing and machine learning technology to turn complex interactions into simple conversations. Today, the vast majority of consumers (87.2%) have neutral or positive experiences with chatbots.

As the statistic reveals, consumers in 2021 were much more receptive toward interactions with these assistants. Surely, this data supports the upward trend in the implementation of these types of tools, especially in some industries. Chatbots are projected to handle 75-90% of banking and healthcare inquiries by 2022.

Even if a company is not in these sectors, it’s time to consider taking the plunge. 78% of decision-makers invested in new technologies as a direct result of COVID-19.

“The pandemic, in addition to driving business innovation, also drew attention to the importance of self-service, as being able to get quick answers became more important than ever,” Rodriguez explains. “During the crisis, 65% of customers opted for this type of means to resolve simpler issues.”

There is no doubt that the primary application of chatbots is to provide a quick response to an inquiry, but providing the best possible customer service is not their only mission. They are also extremely useful in creating a strong brand image. Thanks to advances in technology and machine learning, chatbots have become more advanced and can do much more than automate mundane tasks.

Today, modern chatbots go beyond customer service, and can also generate conversions and close sales. Another study conducted in 2021 shows that chatbots generate response rates of 35 to 40%. And this percentage is at the lower end of the spectrum: better chatbot experiences, with more engaged audiences, can generate response rates of up to 80-90%.

“Chatbots can help agents solve customer problems, better understand the situation and identify the next best step,” suggests Rodriguez. “Another advantage of going for business innovation in this area is that chatbots can also reduce internal dependencies, especially in a remote work environment, by providing quick and easy responses without having to communicate with a colleague.”

In addition to helping users with loan-related queries or gathering important information, such as their account balance, transaction details, and payment installments. Chatbots can also assist the customer in other facets of banking, such as investments or insurance, as well as with credit and debit card management.

This application can also be applied in media and entertainment. From delivering headlines with the latest news to assisting customers with subscription management, chatbot applications in the media and entertainment industry play a very relevant role today, so much so that they have transformed the way we consume content.

On the other hand, chatbots can help students solve problems related to a book or material loans, access to facilities, tuition and fees, or virtual campus technology. One of their most valued applications is related to alert services, which warn of changes or updates in student policies or important dates.

“Integrating chatbots into the business strategy is a way to take advantage of the opportunity that technology provides to position the business and reinforce the brand image. It is a way to demonstrate that the customer is put at the center of the strategy. After all, it is said that innovation is driven by users,” says Rodriguez.

The chatbot industry had been growing steadily even before the pandemic. However, the crisis gave a big boost to adoption. If in 2020 the chatbot market was valued at $7.17 billion, by 2026, the figure is estimated to reach $102.29 billion. It would thus register a compound annual growth rate of 34.75% in the period covered by these four years.

Aaron Rodriguez highlights the growth occurring in the Mexican commercial sector

For decades, Mexico’s foreign commerce has been one of the main drivers of national economic growth and development. Today, foreign commerce represents close to 65% of the national GDP and exports, around 30% (double the 1986 levels). Mexico’s presence in world trade began in the 1980s, with the opening of the economy and the adoption of an export-oriented development model, which has led to the incorporation of Mexican production into global production chains. Aaron Rodriguez, a specialist in Latin American commerce, highlights the growth that Mexico’s commercial sector is experiencing.

Mexico ranks among the top ten players in international trade; in 2013, it was the tenth-largest exporter and ninth-largest importer worldwide, and first in both categories among Latin American and Caribbean countries. In that year, Mexico contributed 2.02% of world exports and 2.07% of world imports, equivalent to its contribution to world GDP (around 2%).

Likewise, in 2014, Mexico’s commerce with the world totaled almost 800 billion dollars, $397 billion for exports and $399 billion for imports, and captured foreign direct investment for $22 billion, which kept it as the second recipient among Latin American countries and 13th worldwide. In the early 1980s, oil and its derivatives accounted for 70% of the value of exports.

Today, the manufacturing sector contributes more than 86% of total exports. Likewise, Mexican imports multiplied 33 times, going from $12 billion to more than $399 billion in the same years. Of the total imports made by our country, 75% are inputs and 11.5% is equivalent to machinery and equipment used to maintain a competitive export platform.

“These figures reflect not only the place Mexico occupies in world trade, but the relevance of foreign trade as an engine for the growth of the Mexican economy,” Rodriguez points out. “Foreign trade has been a factor of growth and development, especially for those regions, sectors, and companies in the country that have been able to integrate directly or indirectly into this activity.”

Through international trade, the production plant has been able to integrate into the global production chains where most of the exchanges take place. In fact, trade in intermediate goods generated by global value chains already exceeds that of final goods and represents more than 60% of world trade flows.

Not all countries and regions have been equally able to maximize the opportunities and benefits offered by international commerce since not all have been able to link up with global manufacturing chains.

In fact, the integration of the states and regions in the north and center of the country into global production chains has accentuated the already existing differences between the “different Mexicos,” as it has made more evident the disparities between regions, sectors and companies in the country that have not yet been able to find a place in these.

“Mexico’s foreign trade has been characterized by high levels of concentration,” Rodriguez details. “In terms of states, the northern and central states have a greater share, and these are where the companies that export are located. In terms of sectors, the automotive and electronics sectors stand out, accounting for almost half of manufacturing exports and, in terms of export destination, these are concentrated in the US market, the world’s main importer.”

This has led to the positive effect of Mexico’s foreign trade, generating virtuous circles of exports and growth, especially in those regions that have been able to effectively link themselves to international markets through exports and the attraction of foreign direct investment.

The geographical proximity to the US. market explains the advantage that the northern states have over the rest of the country to participate in export activity. Likewise, the maquiladora export industry that began in 1965 was located in the states bordering the US, which has also given them an advantage over the rest of the country.

The challenge, however, lies in incorporating those states that have so far remained on the margins of export activity. This point is essential because, since national growth and development are linked to international trade, exports, and the attraction of foreign investment flows, the states and regions that do not integrate will be left behind in their growth possibilities.

Aaron Rodriguez explains how COVID-19 has impacted businesses in Panama

The changes brought about by the pandemic have had a permanent impact on all sectors of industry, from manufacturing to retail and hospitality, healthcare and education. In this context, going back to the way things were in the past will be impossible. Latin American countries such as Panama have suffered various impacts due to this pandemic. Aaron Rodriguez, with his experience in the field, explains how the way of doing business in this country has been affected.

It is clear that the “new normal”, for most organizations, will continue for some time. Companies don’t expect their security priorities and current security concerns to change significantly over the next two-years. In many Panamanian organisations, the rapid changes to security infrastructures and networks in response to the pandemic will likely be permanent.

Security strategy changes that have had the greatest impact include a greater focus on security education for employees (39%), improving network security, threat prevention (37%), and expanded endpoint and mobile device protection (37%). 27 percent of respondents said that they had increased security projects in 2020. This indicates that most people responded to the pandemic by reimagining their business models.

“Over the last year, we have seen cybersecurity transform from systems protection to business enabler, enabling remote and secure operation with the visibility needed to trust the business. But equally, I have noticed that part of the implementations of companies have been done without the planning that would normally have been done. It is important now to go back and analyze the existing environment from a security point of view,” Rodriguez explains.

In addition to strategy, the priorities for 2022 have also migrated. Security for employees working remotely was identified as the main challenge, followed by protection against phishing and social engineering attacks, maintaining secure remote access, and protecting cloud applications and infrastructure.

“If we can interpret how markets have reacted and businesses are evolving to adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic, it is clear that we are facing an unprecedented paradigm shift,” Rodriguez notes. “Disruptive technologies such as robotics, Big Data or artificial intelligence have found their perfect moment.”

Thanks to social distancing, you will observe how companies in Panama, especially those linked to the healthcare sector, will turn their eyes to digital processes. The pandemic has only accelerated this process, where already the McKinsey global institute in 2017 estimated that by 2030 it could affect 400 to 800 million jobs globally.

It is important that people are trained in these technologies and other areas of opportunity that these new business models and technologies are paving their way. The rise of virtual meetings and people working from home has challenged the traditional model and has led to increased labor competition for jobs. However, companies have noticed that rigid schedules will no longer be a rigid norm, so they will be challenged with greater openness to improve work-life balance.

Rodriguez notes, “The results are in and motivation is higher, leading to a direct increase in productivity compared to traditional structured models. Just as outdoor experiences and contactless payments will also come with a more optimized and resilient organizational culture change.”

What is certain is that these changes, for better or worse, are here to stay, and with them, we must learn to navigate the challenges that this pandemic brings. It is more than clear that entrepreneurs must be more open to the adoption of new business models that contribute to permanence. But we will also have the great challenge of strengthening the ties between the organization’s leadership and employees, as well as with customers.