Interview with Antonio Mugica, CEO, Smartmatic
FB: Can you please review your product line up for us?
Smartmatic: Smartmatic is a technology company that offers the best solutions in the market, in different areas: Identity Management, Elections (electronic voting), and Smart Cities, which includes Intelligent Transport Systems and Public Safety.
We originally created the company as a hard-core technology venture in the areas of security and communications. Then we realized the best way to take these technologies to market was to create packaged solutions. So we developed a core competence for purpose-specific technology and we focused on government’s needs. Which required us to also develop a very advanced practice of complex project management and deployment services, as technology alone is never the solution; you have to make sure your customers use it in the best possible way.
FB: Frost & Sullivan recently reported that, "The expertise and ability to develop a valuable, vastly accepted technology for the industry thus makes Smartmatic the worthy recipient of the 2011 Frost & Sullivan Customer Value Enhancement of the Year Award in the identity management systems Biometrics market". Can you please tell us about this award?
Smartmatic: It was an honor that Frost & Sullivan distinguished Smartmatic with the 2011 North American Award for Customer Value Enhancement, based on its recent analysis of the identity management systems biometrics market.
The award recognized as some of Smartmatic’s benefits our enhanced security, flexibility, time-and mission-criticality and our capacity to offer scalable solutions for superior client value across all verticals.
Special attention was given to our Identity management self-contained enrollment station: the PARmobile. In the constant mission of creating and developing technologies that will improve efficiency and transparency, Smartmatic conceived its PARmobile as a tough and modern portable device available for collecting biometric and biographic data and covering all programs related to identity management, delivering the best value and effectiveness possible. We believe the key factor of our success in providing superior customer value has been the combination of our agility in regard to quality, accuracy and responsiveness, with our centralized approach to logistics as well as our comprehensive insight from each of the projects we’ve been involved in.
FB: Can you please tell us about some of your recent projects involving biometric voter registration?
Smartmatic: The first biometric electoral register using Smartmatic technology was a massive project carried out by the National Electoral Court of Bolivia, whereby 5 million citizens were registered in only 75 days.
In addition, we are very proud that The United Nations, through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), selected Smartmatic as a technology and services provider for the modernization of the electoral register of the Republic of Zambia, through the application of the latest-generation biometric technology in this African nation.
Another biometrics project currently in execution by the company involves Mexico’s Secretariat of Governance, to which we will supply enrollment terminals and software to improve and safeguard the National ID Program at this densely populated country.
FB: What other vertical markets are you focusing on?
Smartmatic: Smartmatic has a vast and proven experience worldwide in the automated elections and the identity management industries. We are currently working at improving our value proposition in order to exceed, as always, the expectations of our clients. However, we have also been working in other verticals such as public safety, emergency control platforms and intelligent transportation systems that we have decided to repackage under the name of Smart Cities solutions.
In this market, Smartmatic was recently selected as provider and contractor for the implementation of the fare collection system, management and operation control of the integrated mass transportation system in Cartagena of the Indies (Colombia), for the next 18 years. With this new BRT, both residents and visitors will benefit from an automated solution toward a modern, efficient and safer public transportation. As technology developers, in Smartmatic, we are constantly analyzing opportunities where we can add technical value and help improve the transparency and efficiency of government processes, for the benefit of their citizens.
FB: Where globally are you seeing the greatest growth?
Smartmatic: We are betting on reaching closer to key markets having a tremendous potential for technology development, so that we can respond more efficiently to the needs of the global market. We have found the greatest business growth in emerging markets such as Asia, Africa and Latin America. Smartmatic is broadening its international operations, having recently opened two new offices in Taiwan (Manufacturing and Hardware) and Panama (Research and Development), key regions that will foster the company’s expansion plans in the global market of technological solutions. These new corporate locations are additions to our existing network of offices in the U.K. (London Headquarters), the United States, Barbados, Brazil, Venezuela, the Philippines, The Netherlands and India, strengthening the integration of processes and marketing of Smartmatic’s products and services.
FB: What is the greatest challenge facing the biometric marketplace today?
Smartmatic: We are in a sensitive industry, and as much as governments talk about free markets and free competition, the fact is that there is a lot of protectionism and politics especially around areas like biometrics. The USA has proven to be an extremely protectionist market, which is making it harder for foreign companies to compete here, but it’s also hurting the USA very badly by not taking advantage of the best technologies available to the world markets.
However, the biometric market is on its infancy. Most of the most exciting technologies are in the future, not the past. And the same happens with the market. The real biometric giants are yet to be defined.
We believe customers will begin to realize that more important than technologies, are the services and guarantees of successful projects. There are hundreds of examples of high-profile biometric projects that have failed, and that almost always has been due to an exaggerated focus on technology and too little attention placed on project management, services and know-how.
FB: What can we expect to see from Smartmatic in the future?
Smartmatic: For the next 2 years Smartmatic will keep investing aggressively on R&D, will keep innovating on every front, and will refine its business models to increase even more our value proposition to our natural customers. Smartmatic will become one of the top key players globally in the biometrics and identity markets. Our customers are really asking us for many things they don’t get from the traditional vendors. We just have over a couple of years in this industry, but the opportunity is big and you will see a significant reshaping of this market.
In our other verticals, launching Smart Cities was a response to the need of integrating different technological solutions already offered by Smartmatic to allow authorities to take care of their citizens in the fields of security and mobility. We are expecting to also become a key player in this market in the near future.
We plan to keep expanding our track record and increase the awareness of our potential customer base, that if they truly want to succeed, they should seriously consider working with us. Most of our most innovative strategies and plans have to remain confidential at this point. But we assure you, we have some interesting surprises in store.
About Antonio Mugica
Antonio Mugica is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Smartmatic Group. Since the year 2000, he has defined the corporation’s vision and its goals. Mugica believes in a hands-on approach to management, and accordingly he actively participates in the strategic planning of all areas and departments. He is responsible for Smartmatic’s growth and international recognition as a leading supplier of technology and services related to Elections, ID Managemente, and Emerging Solutions (Public Safety and Transport). Mugica envisioned many of the technological solutions and breakthroughs which Smartmatic has made over time. As of 2009, he held 6 issued and 6 pending patents in the United States, with more under way. He has an Engineering Degree in Electronics from the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas (Venezuela).
One of Antonio Mugica’s strengths has been the ability to balance being both a leader and a team player. For him, a fine-tuned management team is the key toward success. When he founded Smartmatic, Mugica wanted to create the kind of technology that could help improve societies around the world. The Elections Solution was created to eliminate voting fraud and solidify democracy. The ID Management Solution was designed to help governments provide their citizens with secure and agile identification means. The Public Safety Solution aims at solving crime prevention issues and at improving the response times of safety agencies during emergencies. The Public Transport Solution uses various technologies to guarantee the security of citizens, improving the quality of life of the people who use public transit services, and fulfilling crucial commitments of environment sustainability.
Antonio Mugica is always seeking ways to complement his work with other interests, such as music and writing. He enjoys playing and composing music. He wrote a children’s book that presently awaits publication.
Smartmatic is a multinational company that designs and deploys technological solutions aimed at helping governments to fulfill, in the most efficient way, their commitments toward their citizens. With a wide and proven experience in the United States, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Smartmatic is an important cutting-edge technology supplier for Governments. Smartmatic has more than 300 employees worldwide, with offices in the United States, Barbados, United Kingdom, Brazil, Panama, Venezuela, Philippines and Taiwan. For more information, please visit www.smartmatic.com