Conversation with Globant Image credit Pixabay/GeraltThere is a powerful and rapidly growing GSI around. Globant, founded in Argentina, has a different approach to many SIs. Enterprise Times caught up with Stuart Deignan, Managing Director, UK at Globant, to find out more about the company and what it is doing. Deignan is responsible for everything to do with the UK, including people, technology, delivery, and sales.

Stuart Deignan, Managing Director, UK at Globant
Stuart Deignan, Managing Director, UK at Globant

“Deignan was sitting in the newly opened London Office in Victoria when we spoke. According to Deignan, the office is fairly unique and has many collaboration spaces, which customers are taking advantage of. There is also a bar, a virtual golf course and a Formula 1 experience. The office is part of an investment by Globant in the UK. The ambition is to open offices in more locations, including Scotland, the north of England and the South West at least.

Who is Globant?

First, ET asked him to describe what Globant is.

“Globant is one of the biggest companies you have never heard of. It’s the company that powers American Express, LinkedIn, and Google. If you’ve played any of those fantastic games from Electronic Arts, that’s probably been powered by us. If you’ve been transacting and using your Santander Bank card, that’s probably us as well. We were a Latin American tech company founded about 19 years ago by four guys. We’ve developed to become one of the major technology players globally.”

When you say powered by, what do you mean by that?

“Take the example of Disney. Disney’s tech goal is happiness. How do they have happiness in the parks, be that from guests, producers, characters, or staff? How do you use technology to drive that? So, everything from the Magic Bands, which Globant developed, to try and optimise queues through to using AI and cameras to try and direct people to where the queues are shortest.

“Then also helping the characters understand the questions that people ask. The most common question in Disney is, what time is the three o’clock parade? Which sounds like a really stupid question. But, a person is actually asking, what’s the best place to stand if my daughter wants to meet Minnie Mouse? Training people to answer those questions (the ones they are trying to ask) and engage with their customers in a much more intimate way brings the happiness that Disney wants to have in all of their parks.”

State of Globant

Globant is not a small company, and ET asked Deignan to explain the extent of the organisation.

“Last year, we grew at just under 60%. It got us to 1.2 billion. The growth rate this year, I imagine, will be somewhere between 1.7 and 1.8 billion, which still represents 40% growth if my math is correct. Our headcount has continued to increase. We’re just a little under 27,000 people.”

What is your objective in the UK?

“My role is how do I turn this into a billion-dollar organisation? Over the last two years, we’ve continued to double. We’ve got some pretty big blue-chip clients. Nissan is one, and Johnson and Johnson are another in the public domain. We’ve got several large banks as well.

“ We’re also very focused on: what are the scale-ups we want to help make an impact on the world? What are the other big clients where we think we can have an impact? We choose who we want to work with quite carefully because most of our relationships are more than 10 years.

“Disney, we’ve been with 17 years, Google, 14 years and Nissan, we’ve been with them for seven years now. We form very deep relationships with our clients to fundamentally understand what their business needs to do and how we can help them do it. The metric we track very carefully is NPS. Last quarter, the NPS for us was 75. The (technology services) industry average is 41. That tells us we are continuing to build that intimacy and drive some of the good stuff that clients really appreciate.

“We have a very focused plan around how we want to grow, and a lot of that is through organic growth. But also, you’ll see that we’re a relatively acquisitive firm. We will buy other organisations that we think will move the needle significantly. Where we can help accelerate their journey, and that’s going to add to the breadth of the capabilities that we have.

“We’ve just acquired Sysdata in Italy. Italy can be quite a difficult market. This gives us some real critical mass to have a much broader impact. The most recent one, where I’ve been spending a little time, is eWave out in Sydney. That helps the organisation start thinking about its next growth phase, which will be East.

“eWave brings us a footprint not just in Australia, but Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and China, and delivery out of Manila. As we start thinking about how we continue to grow the organisation to be truly global, these acquisitions become incredibly important.”

What makes Globant different?

How do you differentiate from other tech services companies?

“We feel differently. You buy from some of our competitors, you know exactly what you’re getting, and typically that’s quite transactional. The way we work with our clients is very, very consultative. It is we’re all on the same team, and we are here to help you. Either transform how you implement technology or the technology that you’re implementing.

“We also have this very strong social stance, and I know many of our competitors take that view. We’ve decided to take a much more pragmatic view. There are two elements that I’ll talk about.

“One is our Be Kind tech fund. We are aware that technology can have some negative consequences: screentime abuse, bullying, and information bubbles. We’ve set up the fund and seeded it with an initial $10 million. And we are saying to anybody, if you have an application, a process, a thought that is going to help us solve those, we will give you money to help you do that. We’re not going to take the IP or own it. We will give grants to help technology become safer and more useful.

“Then the other thing is as we start to think about sustainability. There are a lot of people who will help you measure your digital carbon footprint. That’s a relatively interesting process. Lots of us do that. What we’re focused on is what we call digital sobriety. That’s being a little smarter about how you engineer and code.

“It was put to me when I was at COP 26 last year. I was having a conversation with a guy who said, Look, if you had an application that was modestly accessed and hosted in a cloud data centre, and you took just one line of code out of that application, you could save enough carbon dioxide that would offset five flights between London and New York.

“Suddenly, I started to realise that the way we code and the energy that’s used in all of the digital assets we create can have quite a huge impact on the environment. As well as using cleaner energy, it’s also incumbent upon us to make sure that we’re coding in the most sustainable fashion, as well.”

On Artificial Intelligence.

Globant has several technology partnerships, including SAP, Oracle, and Salesforce. However, it has also developed its own AI Decision platform. Could you tell me why Globant decided to develop its solution and what it is?

“AI is clearly something that is incredibly important. We have invested in quite a number of PhDs to try and understand what the potential for this is. We’ve created our own navigate platform, which is something that we use internally to help the recruitment process to weed out the good CVS from the less good CVS. It’s something that we use in resource management to try and align people with opportunity.

“It’s something that we’re also using in another platform called Augoor, which is augmented coding. So for us, AI is fundamentally front and centre of where technology is going next.

“For example, we were working with a global automotive. They’re launching a new car, and we’re having some conversations with them around the human-machine interface. These guys had said, ‘Yep, clearly, buttons are going to become less important, screens are important, but the ability to talk to your car is where the industry seems to be going.’

“We have a very close partnership with Google, as does this automotive company. What they want to do is slap in Google AI as the interface. We said, ’Well, look, hang on, you’re a car company with a 60-year history. You have a very defined culture. The way that people interact with your product, how they twiddle the radio knob, how they open the door, these are all elements that are unique and distinct to the culture that you create. Do you really want to hand over all of this to Google?’

“We’re partnering with Google in the automotive (firm) to create, not replace, the AI that Google has because it’s phenomenal. They’ve spent billions developing it. To put a veneer on top that carries some of that automotive personality so that you’re not interacting with Siri, an Alexa, or a generic bot. You’re interacting with someone who we hope captures some of the character of that automotive brand.”

On the future

What do you hope to achieve in 2023

“For me, it is a period of growth.  We’ve had, I don’t want to say consolidation, because we’ve had 100% growth for the last couple of years. But it’s a growth in terms of new markets and new logos and being recognised as an emerging player in the European tech scene.

“Normally, when I’m chatting with clients, the first 10 minutes is explaining who we are and talking through how Globant was formed and that we are a large organisation, credibility building. It’s great that we’re starting to need to do less of that.

“You’ll have seen that we were sponsoring the FIFA World Cup. The logo was up for quite a lot being an Argentinian company. It’s also something that fits very well with our brand. We’ve been investing in sports quite a lot. The sponsorship of FIFA was not just about getting our logo beside the football pitch.

“We’re going to build out the FIFA plus platform. We’ve got lots of experience in building platforms like Hulu and Disney, and so on. That’s important because it’s about the democratisation of sport. After all, if you want to watch it, you probably need to have a Sky subscription and pay through the nose. If you want to go and see the matches, that’s certainly a very expensive proposition. So FIFA is very keen they can globalise the audience as much as possible and see technology as a way to do that.

“Similarly, La Liga, the Spanish football league, we have taken a 51% stake in La Liga tech. It turns out that footballers, clubs and organisations are fantastic at finding good players. They’ll occasionally spend some money on a stadium and some grass. They’re really bad at thinking through the technology that will allow people to have a much better experience.

“We put the chief executive and the CTO into that organisation. That’s going to help transform football clubs, hopefully, across Europe. Then the LA Clippers they’re building out a big new stadium. They’re taking some of the learnings from us around how people move around spaces and how you optimise the experience that those guys have. Being partnered with Disney for 15-20 years, we’ve got a lot of experience with how you give people a good time when they go to a big match like that; lots is happening. “

On challenges

What are your challenges?

“The ability to scale fast enough. This is a very impatient organisation. Also, the accessibility to talent, Finding the best technologists, engineers, and salespeople who can make those connections with clients.

What are the challenges in the East?

“The culture is very different, and linguistic ability. There’s a reason that the Philippines and Manila are very popular. They speak exceptional English in the Philippines due to the American occupation during the war. Vietnam is a really interesting delivery hub, but then you start to suffer from linguistic ability, particularly if you’re serving international clients, which is what we want to do.

“There are a number of really clear markets,  Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. We’ve got a lot of clients in those regions already. This is going to help us serve them better and grow that out.


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