As director of Mexico IT, Guillermo Gonzalez King’s motto is, “Going far by staying close.” His public-private organization promotes the assets and services of Mexico’s thriving IT sector to United States and Canadian companies (you can read about one collaboration here). For those of you interested in learning about it first hand, Mexico IT is also a sponsor of the Midsize Enterprise Summit. Recently, King took the time to discuss Mexico IT’s successes, its midsized enterprise draw, and how current political rhetoric could affect the long-term cross-border partnerships it fosters.

Q: Please tell us about your organization and what it does for the midsized enterprise?

A: We raise awareness in the marketplace that Mexico is both an IT sourcing destination and a destination for investment.

Q: What are Mexico’s selling points to the midsized enterprise?

A: It offers close proximity to the U.S., with the same time zones. And because of NAFTA, there are other advantages. Those are fairly obvious. But Mexico also has a high level of affinity and assimilation with the United States business culture. That’s a huge asset. Most Mexican universities are tailored to be similar to U.S. academic programs. With this assimilation and understanding of the U.S, it’s likely a Mexican company will be able to deliver just what you requested in the first attempt. And given Mexico’s English language affinity, you have the opportunity to solve problems through a phone conference with a partner in the same time zone. You don’t have to travel a long distance, and that saves you time, and lets you reach your goals faster, positively impacting agility.

Q: Many people might not realize to what degree Mexico has a strong IT footprint — as opposed, to say, India.

A: With 130 million people, it’s a large country, with the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. Mexico is highly diverse, so you must consider its various regions. Think of the different regions offering various types of services and assets. An IT company in a given region will have specific human talents and capabilities, and may be even located geographically near a Southwest-based American company needing its services. So, that’s a game changer. For instance, there are California cloud-services companies that set their supply chain strategies, such as delivery routes, based on their proximity to Mexico.

 Q: How about a concrete example?

A: In Guadalajara, on the Pacific coast, there is probably the most mature IT ecosystem in Mexico. About 30 years ago, IBM, Intel, and Cisco established businesses there and basically generated a very sophisticated IT community. In that specific region, you have various segments of businesses. Some are excellent in social media application development, SAP implementations, cutting-edge R&D for the Internet-of-things, and more. In manufacturing, we’ve got a strong electronics hub with relatively small companies trying to develop devices for handheld inventory processes. We’ve got an excellent ecosystem for coding and software development and creating electronic components. A lot of companies offer flexible manufacturing facilities. One company offers a 3,000-unit prototype production capability to test source materials. There is a successful fabrication collaboration, with the U.S. company based in Austin and the other in Guadalajara. 

Q: What about other benefits through NAFTA?

NAFTA offers a homogenous legal framework that supports intellectual property rights for companies doing business in North America. Because of the steady interaction among U.S. and Canadian companies, many Mexican IT businesses have already been through a vetting process for intellectual property protection, and guarantee levels of trustworthiness acceptable to both sides of the border.  

Q: Are there worries, given the current U.S. presidential rhetoric about Mexico, that depending on the election outcome, there could be a disruption in the cross border relationship?

A: Yes, there are some fears. It’s a subject impossible to avoid. If the rhetoric becomes reality, at least the IT sector would most likely be the last sector likely to be impacted, given the intangibility of its nature — as opposed to manufacturing. But it could undo what we’ve achieved over the past 25 years.