10 Aug 21

Sean Killen, Geotab: Expanding Latam footprint, diving into Brazil

Multinational telematics company Geotab has been expanding throughout most of Latin America for the past seven years, but 2021 marks the year that the Ontario based company dives into the largest vehicle market in the region, Brazil

Already boasting presence in all the other major Latam markets (Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru and more), the IoT and connected transportation specialist officially kicked off its first month in the Portuguese speaking nation in June. 

According to Sean Killen who is the company's leader and Vice President for their Latin American business, the scale of Brazil alone unleashes much opportunity and Geotab is ready for the long-term commitment needed to help mature connected technologies in the country.  
Global Fleet scheduled a brief talk with Mr. Killen, and this is what we found out.  
Which Latam countries is Geotab focusing on now and why?   

Killen: We are covering all of Latin America right now, and not ignoring anything.  We have 100,000+ vehicles in Mexico, we do very well in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, and we are launching in Brazil. 

I am also investing in Argentina, and now I have assigned one of my bright young leaders to focus on the Caribbean and Central America as a project to grow her development. Geotab has a commitment to the entire region, and we will continue investing across all markets. 
What is the difference between the telematics demand in North America and the demand you are seeing in Latin America?    

Killen: Latin America is such a great market for telematics because many organizations are just now getting out of basic GPS and applying the Geotab product to safety, efficiency, and vehicle diagnostic type programs. Sustainability focused efforts are even popping up.     

For many companies, this is the first time they have really leveraged this technology to see the gains they can achieve in their business. It is such a great time for telematics in Latin America.    

As for North America, it is in a different situation. It is more like, "what else" can I get from my telematics product and the data it is delivering. Most of the enterprises we deal with are removing their first telematics product and replacing it with Geotab.     

As I said, many companies in Latin America are making the first true steps into enterprise grade telematics, weaning themselves away from GPS based cell phone tracking. 

Considering Geotab's recent entry into Brazil, what is its main objective in the country this year and what are you expecting in 2022?    
Killen: I love Brazil. I have been there many times for business and vacation. What I have learned is that although Brazil is part of Latin America, it is quite unique. Besides the language and the buying habits of the people, the sheer size of the market has put the country on the global stage, and it has enjoyed that position for over a decade.    

Most major Fortune 500 companies with fleets, if not all of them, have made big investments in Brazil. Its business culture and fleet needs are very complex. Our main goal is to continue working with the great partners we already have outside of Brazil and supporting their footprint within the country.     

This will allow our partners to manage their global fleets under a single platform and data source.  Geotab, however, is very aware that Brazil is complex, and it will take a long-term dedicated approach.  We are prepared to make investments in the country with resources, engineering, and local teams and partnerships. 

What are the main challenges you see for Geotab's success in Brazil and what is needed to overcome them?   

Killen: Bluntly, we are late in our investment. Geotab has been in Latin America for seven years and not until now have we made the dedicated decision to open a local business. We are finally ready to hire local, accept the Brazilian Real currency, and really embrace the challenges of the country.  

All this has changed in the last two years leading up to our announcement at the end of May. I am sure this learning curve will come with some headaches and growing pains, and we will experience some bumps in the road in the coming years.   

With that said, Geotab does not focus on short term profit.  Neil Cawse, our CEO, has a long-term outlook on international expansion and he really has committed to growing Geotab into a global platform. We are in Brazil for the long haul. 
Could you tell me a little about Geotab's partnership with Lytx and what other types of partnerships is Geotab looking for in Brazil or Latin America? 

Killen: Video is something that Geotab takes an ecosystem approach to. We want to support as many partners as possible into our open ecosystem which make sense in each market. Lytx is a partner of ours which makes a strong product.    

However, the challenges of hardware importation and pricing is something all camera providers will need to figure out if they want to be successful in Brazil.

In Brazil specifically, we will be open to video partnerships with foreign companies, but I certainly would not exclude the option of locally produced products from the Brazilian tech sector. 

Other partnerships we are eyeing include those related to asset tracking, fuel card integration, and even PaaS (platform as a service) agreements of which Geotab supports other telematics software providers by equipping them with our Geotab hardware and open cloud platform. 

Finally, I'd like to say that we are also investing resources in our Marketplace and signing up new partners every month. We often find Latin American engineered solutions to solve Latin American problems and I personally love seeing this. To me, it's better to see local emerging technologies driving success in the region.   
I think that this really speaks for the philosophy of Geotab's open platform, a vision that has been pushed for the last 20 years.  

snapshot of the Geotab team (source: Geotab)


Top Photo: Sean Killen (source: handout)

Authored by: Daniel Bland