By Santiago Rivera García 

The word tropicalizar does not have a fixed definition. As an article from Milenio mentions: “When I first heard the word tropicalizar, I felt a natural rejection besides because it wasn’t registered in the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy”. Where it is registered according to the Mexican Academy of the (Spanish) Language is in the Illustrated Manual and Dictionary of the Spanish Language of the Royal Spanish Academy (Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1983), where it is defined as “bestow the characteristics of tropical to things, weather, so on that do not have it by themselves” and it punctualizes that in technology it refers to the “treatment given to a material or industrial product to reduce the sensitivity to the elements in tropical conditions”[2]

I heard for the first time the term when I was working as a consultant in PriceWaterhouseCoopers. It was a project sold by an American manager but the applied solution required a lot of tropicalización, because the foreign team – not that they were unprepared – but was not adapted to Mexican practices. With some projects and clients sometimes it can be like that. With some markets it is always like that. I remember asking often when I worked for Bank of Hawaii why big banks like Bank of America or Wells Fargo did not provide service in the islands. The answer from everyone was always the same: “They’re not locals”. Evidently reality has more nuances.

So, what then is required for a proper tropicalización? In this post you will not find the answer but you will some ideas. An article from Financiero of Costa Rica mentions a list of 4 activities to do for a proper tropicalización [4]: 

  1. Make adjustments – always keeping in mind and very clearly what the final customer wants. 
  2. Keep Vision and Dedication – and adaptation capacity.
  3. Adapt the management – to the reality of the territory and the customers.
  4. Exceed Customer’s Expectations – keeping low cost but good service.

 So, does tropicalización exists or not? and what does it have to do with weather?

Of course it exists. As a mexican, I love to see when foreign franchises make the necessary effort to adapt and bring a good product / service in line with local expectations. Conversely, it bothers me when foreigners come along in the top of their stool and expect for the market to adapt to them. 

Regarding Mexican legislation and the advanced electronic signature, we can say with complete certainty that Mexico is extremely sui generis – with pleonasm and all. Reason being that the advander electronic signature in Mexico is regulated by several regulating entities [5]: the Law of Advanced Electronic Signature, the Federal Civil Code, the Code of Commerce, the Federal Civil Procedure Code, the Law to regulate technology of financial institutions, the Official Mexican Norm 151, the Federal Law of Procedural and Administrative Process, Memos from the National Banking and Stock Commission (CNBV), among others.

The issue at hand is not the amount of legal bodies involved, but as we all know, these legal bodies change – they tend to be reformed, modified. For example, a few months ago there was a Memo from the CNBV that requires geolocation by signees for legal agreement registered in electronic means. In order for a service of advanced electronic signature to comply with everything required, it is not enough to move code from one country to another, it would have to be always ready, thinking and actioning as a mexican the functionalities that are trully required in Mexico for legal validity in electronic agreements. WeeSign was thought and designed BY a multidisciplinary team of MEXICAN lawyers, engineers, administrators, and economists FOR MEXICANS. And as it turns out, by fulfilling with so many complex requirements, by making it 100% legal in Mexico, WeeSign is also legal in many other countries of similar or more lose legislations – which are most of them. 

So about the weather, Could it be that solutions come from the poles to the tropics? Important or not, Mexico and Latinoamerica will always have a high degree of special adaptation.