As kids when we were asked the age-old question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” many of us said a lawyer, a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a soldier; usually indicating one of the more common areas of service or practice. To my surprise whilst watching an episode of the TPDCo Tourism Quiz a young scholar introduced himself and said “In the future I will be a Software Engineer”. Yesssssss! (release the confetti and do a happy dance). His ambition may have been born out of an obsession with the wave of new technologies available to his generation in the form of smart devices and the Internet of things, new gaming technologies, etc. Maybe in the future he will be added to the list of the most influential people in Technology with the likes of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Ginni Rometty. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have one of our own on that list? When I say our own, I mean Jamaican (Wakanda …I mean Jamaica forever ) The question is “Are we preparing an environment in which he can thrive as a Software Engineer?”
Where is Jamaica on the Technology Evolution Scale?
“Over the course of the last decade, Jamaica has made immense strides in developing its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure. Today, the island is a highly competitive and attractive business destination and a regional leader in Information Technology Export Services (ITES). As the largest English speaking territory in the Caribbean, Jamaica is the region’s leading contact centre location with over 30 information communications technology/business process outsourcing (ICT/BPO) companies operating in the country employing 11,500 full-time agents.”
… From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Economy of Jamaica)
With that in mind, I believe Jamaica has been slow to “get with the program” in other areas of technological advancements. We are just now realizing the benefits of digital transformation and process automation in our financial, tourism and business sectors, as more institutions are hopping onto the digital train to remain competitive in their respective spaces. Financial institutions are adding digitized and networked banking services to their modus operandi, which results in a steady decrease in paper and in-branch banking. The use of these technologies, makes the transfer of data easy and more manageable.
The tourism sector is at the starting line and getting ready to use “Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to help them gain meaningful insights into guest behavior”- Head of Enterprise Solutions at Digicel Business, Ative Ennis. This will empower the industry by providing new business models, products, services and experiences.
Jamaica is also slowly adapting to the use of Fintech and Mobile money with the launch of innovations like Caricoin, GK Mpay and Quisk. These products promote convenience and financial inclusion for the un-banked, and we will definitely see advancements when Artificial Intelligence and Biotechnology are added to the mix. Our budding Software Engineer from the TPDCo Tourism Quiz may take us there 😉.
The icing on the technology cake may very well be the Vision 2030 initiative by the Government of Jamaica. This may see us implementing a host of current and future technologies in order to achieve the ultimate goal of making “Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and to do business”. The ideal outcome is Jamaica gaining developed country status by 2030. The key then, is the application of emerging technology to the growth and success of industries like education, government, tourism, finance and business. Our little Software Engineer will shine and put us on the map with the success of Vision 2030. He most definitely will, if we provide the opportunities for him to develop his skills and be creative in the Technology space.
What are our next steps?
Providing an innovative and continuously evolving IT environment is instrumental in staying ahead of Technology or in fact to just keep up with it. We need to:
- Nurture the creative and digital design thinking skills of our practicing and budding technologists and help them identify niche opportunities for them to be successful locally. We can do this by ensuring that for IT programs, our education system, specifically at the tertiary level, is operating up to IT industry standards with the appropriate accreditation, offering courses in the most current and emerging technologies , applying the right assessment and practical training for our future engineers.
- Encourage talent development and Innovation through Innovation labs and programs which give entrepreneurs and tech talent a chance to showcase their ideas and skills.
- Promote Entrepreneurship development and Mentoring by connecting entrepreneurs and developers with the people (investors) and things they need to succeed, possibly through international Tech conferences and expos held locally to introduce them to the global players in Technology.
- Invest in our own. Invest. Invest. Invest.
Let’s do this and cause a disruption in the global Technology space, lead the conversation and get our little scholar’s name on that list. 😁
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