There is an old business cliché according to which an opportunity lies in every crisis. As Brazil struggles to drag itself out of its worst-ever recession, companies that managed to find competitive advantages and keep pushing for a more efficient structure during the toughest times are now reaping the benefits.

Technology has been pivotal in this context. Probably one of the hottest areas is cloud computing, which Microsoft defines as the offer of services, such as storage, networks, software, analysis, and intelligence, on the internet.

It allows companies to outsource server racks to providers, saving money on personnel, energy, and the cooling systems required to maintain a server. They are also able to scale—increasing or decreasing the digital space available—and to make backups more easily. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cloud computing also allows other advantages, such as having archives available everywhere, anytime you want. When you deploy this kind of technology in crucial areas, the results could even save lives. That’s the case with </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">FIDI</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a Brazilian services provider responsible for managing diagnostic imaging exams in 85 public hospitals around the country. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The organization began migrating their workloads to the cloud in 2012, and now they have about 600 terabytes of images stored on Amazon Web Services servers. The massive archive—the result of 5 million X-rays, CT scans, and other imaging exams produced each year—cannot be deleted, as </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brazilian law determines that files belong to the patient</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, not the hospital or doctor.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Before adopting cloud strategies, FIDI had to maintain huge servers and deploy resources such as technicians, energy and money to keep the servers up and running on a constant basis. After outsourcing their archives, FIDI saved 15 to 20 percent in IT costs, says Hélio Ajzen, FIDI’s Infrastructure Commissioner. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We don’t need to invest in physical assets anymore or have people around to take care of the servers. We still keep some images, about 250 terabytes of them; and local servers on hospitals save images for about six months. But the exams are uploaded to the cloud as soon as they’re done,” he told </span><b>The Brazilian Report</b><span style="font-weight: 400;">, adding that FIDI did not measure other efficiency gains, such as productivity, which may have been positively impacted too. </span></p> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/494024"></div> <p><script src=""></script></p> <h2>Life-saving developments</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">When you are a </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">healthcare company</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, operational efficiency leads to more than economic gains. By having a huge database easily available on the cloud, FIDI managed to partner with an Israeli health-tech company, AIDOC, for an artificial-intelligence-based software that learns from the results stored. Nine hospitals already have access to a system that detects broken skulls, spines and strokes. Doctors in diagnosis hubs receive the images flagged for potential issues and may issue reports in a matter of minutes. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The system, which has a 92 percent success rate, also prioritizes exams needed for emergency treatment, such as car crashes and strokes, explains Mr. Ajzen. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We must return emergency exams in up to one hour, alongside a medical report, so ER doctors may provide treatment. The software doesn’t replace the doctor, but it helps to find a diagnosis much quicker. When you have a situation like a stroke, the faster you apply the medicine, the better. It helps to save lives.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Besides the vital work in emergency situations, the system’s high speed also provides amenities for patients and doctors. Mr. Ajzen highlights that doctors may find a patient’s previous exams in a matter of minutes—helpful when they need to evaluate the progress of treatment on a tumor, for example—and patients may pick up their test results in very short order. “We know that sometimes it takes time to schedule an appointment, but the exam will be available at any time,” he says.  </span></p> <h2>Booming cloud market<span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span></h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In Brazil’s fast-growing technology market, cloud computing is a rising star. According to </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Brasscom</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a Brazilian association of technology, information and communication companies, cloud computing investments in the country are set to jump 26 percent from 2019 to 2022, reaching BRL 77.8 billion—behind only the BRL 155.2 billion destined for investments in the Internet of Things. </span></p> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/494035"></div> <p><script src=""></script></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Globally, the cloud computing market is dominated by internet giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Alibaba. Together, the top four cloud providers accounted for 61 percent of the total market in 2018, according to </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">Canalys</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a consultancy. As well-established companies with huge investment budgets, they may provide scale gains, providing cheaper services and security features that are appealing to smaller clients. And Brazil, as </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">South America’s largest market</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, is on their radar. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Antonio Chaddad, Google Cloud sales manager for Brazil, the Google Cloud Platform grew 330 percent in the country in 2018. In an emailed statement to </span><b>The Brazilian Report, </b><span style="font-weight: 400;">he said that the performance is also a result of the company’s strategies in Brazil. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We believe it reflects the Cloud Region in São Paulo, Google’s first in Latin America, launched in 2017. It consists of </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">local infrastructures</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that offer our clients low latency to access their data and applications, as well as the possibility to pay in Brazilian reais,” he said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Chaddad says Google currently provides services for companies in financial services, telecommunications, media &amp; entertainment, retail, healthcare, and industry, as well as for governments. He explains that Google’s solutions are also being used to improve integration in teams by way of messaging apps, managing big data, and interacting with customers through chatbots and other tools that require machine learning, for instance. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In Brazil, their customer portfolio includes heavyweights such as cosmetics company Natura, retailer Magazine Luiza, and airline LATAM. Google sees LATAM as crucial, “due to its continued growth,” says Mr. Chaddad.

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BY Natália Tomé Scalzaretto

Natália Scalzaretto has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology. Most recently, worked as an Editor for Trading News, the information division from TradersClub investor community.