December 28, 2023
Our Culture, Software Development Outsourcing
Cafeto’s Lessons from CEO Luis Pérez: Navigating Recession, Rebooting Culture, and Rising Above in 2023
2023 was a rollercoaster for the tech industry, and Cafeto wasn’t spared the ride. Mass layoffs, a looming recession, and a shifting landscape threw curveballs at every turn. But instead of buckling, Cafeto CEO Luis Pérez navigated the turbulence with resilience, innovation, and a deep commitment to their company culture. Buckle up as we delve into Luis’s playbook for weathering the storm, from embracing remote work and nurturing agility to discovering hidden opportunities and emerging stronger than ever. This isn’t just a survival story; it’s a blueprint for thriving in the face of uncertainty, with actionable insights for any leader navigating the ever-changing tech landscape.
1. What were the most significant challenges that Cafeto faced as a company in the technology industry in 2023?
Mass layoffs in the tech industry
Unfortunately, in 2023, 240,000 jobs were lost in the United States, and we were also affected in the early months of the year with the cancellation of several resources by our clients. Many of these layoffs are due to the fear of a recession in 2023, and many companies have moved forward to cut costs to weather a possible global recession. Inflation has also played a crucial role, affecting demand for services at both the consumer and corporate levels.
This year was marked by uncertainty, a possible recession, a war, and rising inflation, which makes investment contract and many technology companies, such as startups that depend on investment to grow, did not have the expected rounds and had to either refrain from hiring staff or lay them off to stay afloat.
Another factor that did not play in our favor was the depreciation of the dollar. 99% of our clients pay us in dollars and our payrolls are in pesos, so we have had less Colombian pesos to cover our operations.
2. How has Cafeto addressed this challenge of becoming ISO 27001 certified in 2023?
Implementing the ISO 27001 information management system has been a complex but very rewarding task at the same time. As leader of Cafeto, I had to provide all my support for this implementation and allow changes that I previously thought were not necessary or important.
Standardizing processes has also been complex because it requires not only identifying and managing risks, but also defining policies and procedures. Without a doubt, the support of all the area leaders has been crucial, who better than them to participate in this process as experts in all the doings of this company.
Thanks to them and their collaboration, I feel that our culture has changed with a view to having everything documented and organized. In the end, this allows us to be more efficient and be able to focus on new challenges that bring us more value.
3. How have you led Cafeto’s team amid uncertainty and rapid changes in the technology landscape over the past year?
We have leaders who are very receptive and who have understood the importance of making quick decisions since the pandemic. Many times we stay trying the same thing with the same strategy, our team knows that to get new results we have to try new things.
In recent months, we have implemented follow-up to new strategies and processes, in these spaces we try to get everyone to contribute and build new ways of doing things.
In this business there are many external factors that we cannot control, so we have been in favor of always contemplating different scenarios and on them establish different routes that in the end will lead us to the same point: reach our sales goal.
4. In terms of innovation, is there any project or initiative in particular that stands out as a key achievement for Cafeto in 2023?
We have several projects that we are working on internally with the development team. There is one in particular that we have developed for customer management. This is the one I like the most because it will surely give a lot of value to our services and will also be a platform that will generate a lot of value for the customer and will put us ahead of our competitors.
These developments are also designed to be own products with the potential to be sold to other companies and can be customized according to their needs.
5. What are the key lessons you have learned as CEO in this challenging year for the technology industry?
2023 has been a very difficult year in all aspects. But the most important thing in difficult times is to trust the process. Trust the team and trust the work we have been doing for over 14 years. Surely there will be more years like 2023 and each year that passes we strengthen ourselves with talent and with new customers.
6. What has been Cafeto’s response to the shortage of tech talent and the constant demand for specialized skills in the current labor market?
I don’t think we can talk about a shortage this year, in fact, mass layoffs have had the opposite effect. What we have seen is the demand for technologies that were not so in demand before, the rise of new platforms for e-commerce developments or the famous artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
An incentive is that a few years ago universities started to understand the importance of technology careers and have strengthened academic programs, which has made talent in Colombia more prepared not only at the level of knowledge but also of soft skills. For the moment we have great talent in Colombia and Mexico, perhaps some countries like Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic have taken great strength exporting talent, we do not rule out in the future considering these countries as part of the search strategy.
7. How has the post-pandemic period influenced the way Cafeto approaches remote work and virtual collaboration?
Before the pandemic, Cafeto was well-prepared for remote work. All of our clients are in the United States, and our talent is located in Colombia and Mexico. When the pandemic hit, our clients’ needs did not change much. At Cafeto, we believe that the foundation of remote work is trust and self-management. We know how important it is to meet our deadlines, and this does not necessarily mean following a strict schedule.
One of the biggest challenges that we as entrepreneurs face is helping our employees find a healthy work-life balance. The pandemic has largely been a facilitator of this, as it has allowed for a more balanced integration of work and personal and family responsibilities.
8. What role has Cafeto’s organizational culture played in resilience and success during this challenging year?
Organizational culture is essential for resilience and success. A strong culture fosters adaptability in the face of challenges, promotes innovation, and strengthens commitment. Cafeto has relied on its positive culture to drive teams to overcome obstacles during times of change or difficulty, cultivating an environment where collaboration and trust are paramount.
9. What word would you use to define 2023?
10. What markets do you believe generated the most opportunities for industry growth this year?
Without a doubt, technology-based companies are the ones that demand the most services, such as those offered by Cafeto.
Startups will also not cease to seek optimal ways to have their minimum viable products.
I am confident that in 2024, we will have more customers requesting developments that integrate the internet of things, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cybersecurity, and automation and RPA.
Ready to boost your starup? Explore the 3 ways to deal with inflation and discover the benefits of outsourcing IT services and software development. Dive into our blog now for expert insights!