Kony Solutions, a mobile and multi-channel application platform provider, held a press conference on Tuesday to announce its commercial launch in São Paulo. Along with opening its Brazilian office, the company announced that it already has a big client: Brazilian Banco Itau Unibanco, one of the world’s 10 largest financial conglomerates.
Founded in 2007 and launched in 2008, Kony aims to achieve U.S.$500 million of global revenues by 2015. It currently has about 900 employees and 12 offices worldwide. The Brazilian office is Kony’s second in Latin America; it already has a presence in Mexico.
Kony Solutions is focused on developing a suite of customizable, pre-built apps and mobile application management solutions. Banco Itau Unibanco will use the KonyOne Platform to build, deploy and manage its mobile banking applications. The financial services company has about U.S.$540 billion in assets and approximately 40 million customers.
According to Kony, Banco Itau Unibanco plans to build a new generation of retail banking apps based on the KonyOne Platform, and it will port its existing mobile apps to Kony’s platform to simplify management. Starting in 2013, the bank also plans to deploy cross-bank mobile apps for investment banking, private equity, asset management and insurance. It might also build numerous mobile apps for its employees, to help streamline its operations and support its aggressive plans for international expansion.
Barriers to mobile adoption in Latin America
Several enterprises are building “mobile first” strategies, which means that as companies develop new systems and applications, they are focusing primarily on those that impact mobile devices for end users (costumers) and internal users (mobility for the company’s sales force, for instance).
Kony Solutions will focus on both mobile applications focused on end users and providing mobility tools for corporate’s employees. However, the massive adoption of mobile solutions is still being held back by the high cost of terminals and wireless telecom services in Latin America.
The Latin America region has 130 million mobile broadband connections today, and that number is forecasted to increase to 300 million by 2015, according to GSMA Chairman Franco Bernarbè. IDC says smartphone penetration in Latin America is only 15%, although GSMA expects this to reach 33% by 2014 and 60% by 2018.
Low smartphone penetration is one factor that slows down mobile app adoption. Another is the average smartphone connection speed. According to a Cisco survey, the average smartphone connection was 1,036 kbps in 2011, up 51% from 687 kbps in 2010. Cisco forecasts that it will grow three-fold from 2011 to 2016, reaching 2,947 kbps in 2016.
“Today we see that mobile solutions are passing through the same challenges and transformations that Web-based applications did years ago. It is no longer a system extension, it’s the main system,” said Oliveira. “Mobility is key for enterprises.”
According to Oliveira, Kony has to understand the specifics of the Brazilian and the Latin American markets to build appropriate solutions, for example, by allowing some corporate mobile applications to be used offline then sync later when there is a connection. “In Latin America, there are more feature phones than smartphones, so our platform has to address feature phone specifications,” said Carlos Falconi, Kony’s vice president for Latin American sales.
According to Gartner, over the next five years, 65% of enterprises will adopt a mobile device management (MDM) solution for their corporate liable users.