COA Symposium: Digital Imperatives for Latin America

Decisions can and must be made much faster now, said panelists. That means you can't always wait for perfect data to pull the trigger.


  • Gaston Bottazzini, CEO, Falabella
  • Alvaro Cardenas, President, Latin America & Caribbean, Diageo
  • Cristina Palmaka, President, SAP Latin America & Caribbean
  • Ignacio Yarur, Chief of Innovation and Digital Bank, Bci
  • Federico Muxí, Managing Director & Senior Partner, Argentina & Chile, BCG (moderator)

“Leading companies today are combining the strengths of humans and of technology to create what we could call superhuman or bionic capabilities,” said the Boston Consulting Group’s Federico Muxí, who moderated the COA Symposium on digital imperatives for Latin America and the Caribbean, which asked industry leaders about their lessons learned with one full year of the pandemic on the books.

Falabella’s Gaston Bottazzini had three primary takeaways: their company was more adaptable than they knew, they were able to make relatively big decisions or decisions that had been lingering quickly, and they learned how much autonomy and ownership small teams can get. “People were able to make very good decisions at the local level,” he said.

Organizations used to look to the past to predict the future. But “the past is irrelevant” now, said Alvaro Cardenas of Diageo, because so much has changed. “You’ve got to manage with 60 to 70 percent of the information,” he said, and you can’t wait for “perfect data” to make a decision.

"We couldn’t have survived without a very smooth supply chain across the board...The faster we were ready, the better," said Cristina Palmaka of SAP Latin America. She underscored that societal change was at the core of the past year’s transformation, a change that technology might have facilitated but didn’t drive. "Technology isn’t the answer, but it is the enabler," she added.

How should companies look to attract the best young talent? If concepts like inclusion and a more equitable society were important before, they're mission-critical today—and a key part of the value proposition for a younger generation of talent, said Ignacio Yarur of Bci.