Okay, folks, this is the read method, insider podcast.
This is episode 70 and in our 70th episode we welcome our guest with over 20 years experience in telecommunications and the ict space.
Her extensive knowledge in policy and regulation technology and governance gained through positions in both the public and private sector in the caribbean, southeast asia and the south pacific has propelled our guests to be among the top expert in telecommunications and ict in the caribbean region.
Currently, based in jamaica, my hometown is she’s.
A director of ict pulse consultant limited a research and advisory firm on ict and telecommunications issues.
Tonight’s guest is also the publisher, editor and primary contributor to the online publication.
Ict pulse, as well as a host and producer of the ict pulse podcast with accreditation, llb from the university of london and msc from in communications and controls, controls in digital signal processing and the from the university of i’ve never heard of this university strathclyde and a Bsc in electrical and communication in computer engineering from the university of the west indies, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome to episode 70 mitchell marius.
Thank you so much everyone and congratulations on your 70th episode.
As i was listening to you, you know introduce me.
I’m almost inclined to sort of turn and look behind me to see exactly who was being introduced because, as you can appreciate, you just sort of put your head down and just get on with things, and it’s only perhaps in looking back, sometimes that you, you recognize Some of the things that you have accomplished so just thank you so much for having me on well, you know i’m looking at like different continents here that are nowhere near each other: okay, the south, pacific, southeast asia, the caribbean, i’m like holy smokes.
You know that that’s a lot of miles to travel, to go to any of those locations and a lot of oceans to cross, and you know i had to go look up some of these accolades, i’m like llb bachelor of law.
Msc of you know.
I know that master of signs and bachelor of signs, i’m like michelle, like you’re reinventing the world, my goodness i don’t think so, but just trying to to chip away in my little corner and as you can appreciate it um where you start your your your journey.
I guess professionally in particular the way how life is at least in in this time.
There are opportunities that come your way, so gone are the days when one probably would have just been inclined to sit at a job.
You know for 30 years, and you know get your.
You know your pen upon on exit.
You know when you, when you’re retiring – and you know a little handshake from you, know the company president and you move into the sunset i mean i could never have charted the course of my life.
Even if i, even if i wanted to write it, it was beyond what i had probably thought.
You know where i would have ended up and probably even for me.
Luckily, i’m maybe my plans would you know kind of loose because then i was able to embrace the opportunities that came by where not necessarily you know had some very strongly held.
You know views about where i needed to be and what i wanted to accomplish in the long term starting you know when i started my career, that’s outstanding and you’re.
You just never know where the opportunities take you, and especially, if you know you’re persistent, and you know i and i believe you have to be good at what you do and because people do recognize talent when when it when they see it, and i’m sure, and I recognized you respectfully for for a couple years now, we’ve you know i i’m always constantly um paying attention to your stuff on linkedin and that’s where we first met yeah uh on linkedin and i’ve, and then i saw your recent um accomplishment now tell us about That last, that last linkedin post, where you were appointed um, is it is it to a board or it was just a recognition, the women of silicon valley of um.
I guess women who are you know, i guess doing good things in in stem.
You know, and most of the the recipients these um this year were of caribbean heritage directly, others, you know indirectly and um, but it was just a wonderful recognition, so uh it.
I think it it.
I guess i i personally may not necessarily be inclined to go after those sorts of things, but you know i was gobsmacked.
I guess once i got when that you know my name had been included.
I had said you know shared some details about myself and which was included.
I mean i think, like for each recipient.
There was an a little article that they did a q, a so i’d answer the questions and forgot all about it until you know it, it came up on linkedin and and and friends started to to tag me on it so yeah, so it was.
It was lovely and you know i i received a lot of attention.
Actually, yes, yes, yes! So congratulations! That’s that’s amazing! I saw silicon valley and i immediately thought of one of the guests who has been on this show uh three or four times: uh steve benson, stephen benson, who’s, the founder of badger maps, , an outside sales mapping, company and he’s been on this show To uh he’s based in silicon valley, where they do all these great things, and i thought about you and i’m like geez, this is so so cool.
So so michelle we’re going to dive into some of these questions here and um.
I definitely want to learn as much as i can from you here and and shows the the the audience right um as well.
So when we talk about leveraging telecommunications and ict in the caribbean um, we are currently in a world in which technology has fundamentally transformed human interaction and is now the most uh immediate context of life globally.
Everybody goes rushed to communication and technology.
This is how we’re community right now and seeing each other so from your perspective in is.
Is this a new normal and is the caribbean region adapting efficiently enough um to this to the inevitable? It is absolutely the new normal.
However, i don’t think we are here in the cabin adopting it as efficiently as we might like, and i mean there’s so many reasons for that.
We, the ecosystem itself, is still underdeveloped because as much as we may have access, let’s say to the latest phones and so on.
You may find that in many countries the fiber optic networks, the infrastructure that supports broadband communication is not as comprehensive as one might lie and we still suffer from um bandwidth, challenges and, and those i think, became even more pronounced.
You know during covet 19 and work from home and all of the traffic with you know, people streaming 24, 7 and so on, and we are having again financial challenges, funding channel challenges because to upgrade the infrastructure to implement the requisite systems, you need funding.
I guess our governments may have access to moderates modest amounts, but whether or not or the extent to which they could be applied in the ways that they need to be applied to help us to to leapfrog um in the ways in which we are leveraging technology.
That might be limited, so we are also seeing that as much as, for example, the private sector is driving a lot of the changes and the transformation that we might want to see.
I think, across the region.
It has not yet reached a critical mass for the public sector to begin to uh, implement the systems and the support structures that would be needed because, as you might appreciate, and – and you may have observed this – you know in in canada and – and you know where You have worked and lived before that you know the private sector comes out in front.
They are the ones pioneering things and spearheading things, and then you know um government tends to to sort of backfill and then bolster based on probably having a few years of experience and being able to observe what is going on and then figuring out how best the The the ecosystem can be supported, facilitated and developed, but we are so.
I think technology is changing so quickly that government can’t cannot really keep up and and what they might be observing today will be different from what is going to be occurring tomorrow.
So we are not at a place where it’s easy to begin to put everything together, put all of the pieces together such that we might be able to so they may not be able to adapt and pivot fast enough, because by the time they do so, and You know implement a system or one infrastructure, it’s almost you know obsolete in the next year.
Absolutely that, i think, is the general thrust of things wow.
So is it easy? You know it’s easy to see why so many may be um intimidated or overwhelmed when it comes to itc, as i was as i am, you know, how can we break it down? How can we break down ict and its relevance in today’s emerging economies like those of jamaica and parts of the caribbean, trinidad and other regions, so that we can make sense of it all? Okay, i think that you know ict information and communication technology.
I mean lots of words and yes, it is quite intimidating, but what ultimately it has been doing i mean here it is, you know we all have cell phones, we have computers, um, our homes are getting more and more connected.
You might be able to.
You know turn off your television from your smartphone and that sort of thing, but all of those are like the the sort of bells and whistles of of of of the system, and what we it is doing is helping us.
What ict is doing is helping us to become more efficient, more productive and to do less with to do more with less sorry, gotcha, it’s it.
That is it if you look at it across the board, so you know in our personal lives, if you wanted to to, you know, send a message to someone down the street or to find out about relatives back home here in jamaica.
What would you do send a letter not anymore, not anymore, and we can now call not necessarily just um, via the uh, your telecoms provider, in terms of um, making a a voice based call.
But you know you can just have a video call, so you can actually see you know mom and dad, or you know, sisters and and relatives back home or or whatever.
So that is one aspect, let’s say the from in your personal life.
So it’s helping you to do that, and here it is as well.
Personally, you know we are all trying we all have 24 hours in a day, but we all are trying to pack in.
You know even more and more so back in the day when, for example, you had to um write a letter or write a document, you don’t you no longer sit down and handwrite it.
You may choose to do so.
If that is how you think and process things, but eventually you probably are going to you know, put it in on a wood processor edit it and judge it up so you’re, not necessarily typing everything over and over again, and when you make small edits, you can Do all of these things quite efficiently and then, when you’re finished you don’t, you may no longer need to print it out.
You can just send it via email to someone and there would be a relatively short time hopefully within which they will reply.
And therefore you have this conversation going going and it doesn’t take weeks or months to get.
You know that engagement completed and when you move now into the business space, most businesses nowadays are being charged with being cost effective, realizing cost savings being competitive, and this is what then now ict is now being used as a tool or as tools to help an Organization to become more efficient, you know, sadly, there are consequences and some of them may not be pleasant um, at least in the first instance, because of the changes and the transformation that might be required.
But if you know you let’s say you had an accounts department and you know we are no longer sitting down with calculators or just a pen.
You know a pencil and a piece of paper.
You have software that you can use that can help you to to.
You know tabulate and correlate all of the the numbers and so on, and instead of having someone walk from one department with a piece of paper with uh data information that needs to be entered into the system.
We have now been able to digitize those systems such that everything is working on a common platform and that we can then be more efficient, more cost effective, more productive in our time, and that is the i think, the beauty of what ict does.
You know, regardless of us being intimidated, we whittle it down that.
Is it wow, so there’s a lot to unpack there and in a lot of ways we’re using this technology and communications in so many different ways, without even realizing exactly that we are right.
So for me so far, what i’m taking away from this conversation is the the ability to understand a lot more of what i’m already doing and how it relates to you know: telecommunications, communications technology etc.
So a follow-up question to this would be what are the drivers of change in the world in which we live right now and function that make ict so vital to growth in development of the region.
You know just based on the examples uh the ideas you were just given right, so some of it i would have come out in that in that, in my previous response, competition we need to be globally.
Competitive gone are the days when we had protected markets and so on.
We now need to ensure that we as countries are operating efficiently, that when we are looking at foreign direct investment, you know, of which we are eager to to attract and and maintain, and retain that we are providing systems that investors feel confident and feel comfortable.
In and that would allow them to maximize their investment in our countries the whole issue of productivity.
I mean i was having a conversation with someone this morning and they were talking about just how you know low the productivity is across the region, and you can, you can see it.
I guess, based on countries the pace of development.
The pace at which things happen is different and it works to our benefit and and and and our detriment, because you know we in the region are known for our sort of laid-back lifestyle, which is wonderful in one on the one hand.
But then it can be a hindrance when we are also looking at.
You know how competitive we are, how efficient we are, how effective we are in the things that we do.
We also have to think about just the fact that this has become a global marketplace.
Luckily, jamaica is one of the bigger islands and in the region, but can you imagine if you were on an island that had 10 000 or 50 000 people and you’re trying to offer a service or produce a product? You will quickly run out of customers and whether or not the business itself can be viable, but when you start to think of yourself as operating in a regional or even a global global yeah that you know it completely changes your mindset and even your approach to The business, but that can only occur due to ict here in the caribbean.
It’s a point.
I’m i’m sure that you, everyone would would appreciate.
Everybody thinks of the cabinets, there’s just one homogeneous space, but you know we are number of you know sovereign countries.
Yes, we might have cultural similarities and and so on, but there are nuances and differences as well, so there has been and and as you could appreciate, the whole um premise of caricom and the oecs car coming in the caribbean community, always csv in the organization of Eastern caribbean states, where we have these um island or sub island groupings or country groupings.
I should say because some some of the members are not islands and we are trying to find ways and means to create greater harmonization across the region and one of the important ways we can do, that is by leveraging ict.
So you have things like the you know: the car comes single market and economy, so these are elements, and even the single ict space, which is supposed to be an element of that.
Where you’re trying to create harmonized policies using telecommunications to leverage and to develop a more unified region as much as we might have differences and therefore allow us to to benefit from economies of scale and scope that you know an island of 5 000.
People might not be able to to to realize you know this is so interesting because i recently uh just completed an online course at harvard uh on uh entrepreneurship in emerging economies and um.
There were so many examples in that course on how small islands, or even big countries where you know 70 80 of the population, really is still poor.
You know and have they so they may have some of the greatest talents, but are but don’t have the access to showcase that talent and their only true marketplace is their to their local markets.
It’s the local vendors, it’s to the community uh and no one’s available to to show them how to get that out, not just to create a bigger market, not just across the country but across the world and um.
It literally, you know, come to think of it.
I i had registered a company a couple years ago, where the timing couldn’t be better to launch this company right now, because so many com, so many countries are in the same issue.
You take, for example, the current uh.
You know where jamaica and many other islands thrive on tourism, yes right, so those vendors and folks that would go to the market and sell their crafts and arts and whatever you know, items that tourism market is pretty much very slow and will be for the foreseeable Future, yes, what is their plan b right right? What’s what is their plan b and most of them don’t have a plan b, uh they’re, gon na hope and pray until the market comes back whenever that is, but there are opportunities there may be opportunities for them to showcase their products, not just locally but internationally Um and – and there is an opportunity for them that you know this – we are telling you know.
Communications and technology can literally change the scope, uh and change their direction to to to doing things that they otherwise were not even considering absolutely yeah so go ahead.
Oh yeah, and i would just wanted to add – because i think you know kobit 19 – has really, i think, begun to open the eyes of a lot of people to some of the opportunities, because it’s easy when your life is predictable.
If you are, you know a vendor, or you know someone probably working in an in the industries that have been adversely affected by copenhagen, such as hospitality and tourism that you you know you can set up your little stall.
You know, let’s say on the pier.
So when the cruise ships come by, you know you you can get.
You know business from them all right.
Cruise ships have not been coming.
What can you do exactly, and you know to the extent that probably they are now beginning to see that there may be opportunities? You know a lot of people during this time have been using whatsapp to to to secure business using facebook.
You know setting up a little facebook page, you know taking a couple of photographs of some of the products and trying to to build at least some sort of i’m not even sure if i would say a business but trying to to generate income or some sort Of awareness, you know exactly exactly so: corbin 19, probably you know as as as devastating as it has been.
You know there is always a civil lining.
I think, and it is the opportunities that it is probably forcing us to to to see and to to revisit yeah, to learn a little bit more and to see that what you know to learn more about our true capabilities and a lot of this.
By doing so can actually lead to bigger and better opportunities than ever once than ever before, imagined you know it’s almost like we’re being we’re all being forced.
You know to you, know, to reengage and to to analyze.
You know and assess our current uh space and what the future might hold for us and people have to make you have to pivot.
Like you, you don’t have a choice right now.
You know in the world.
Frankly, um, i don’t know a single individual who has not had to alter the way they they conduct their lives uh for now in the foreseeable future.
So who knows what you know will come in the future? We just need to know that there’s an opportunity to adapt and you know and to pivot, and to probably not just to do that for ourselves, but to be a better and bigger contributor to the world.
Absolutely you know, and that’s where i see the opportunity is: how can we use this? You know technology and communication and information to benefit ourselves but more to but more importantly, how to better the world you know so i think that’s so vital so um.
So where may the opportunities um be to survive and thrive within the region for those listening uh as compared to when the opera? You know the opportunities such as um, unprecedented connectivity? I think we talked a little bit about the the there’s connectivity and mass messaging via like whatsapp, for example, uh economics, econ economies that are more connected than ever before.
Where i mean the region is, is being forced to connect and to communicate more so than they ever did, and then global competitiveness um where, where where’s the downside and where do you think the upside is okay, all right? That’s so that’s! That’s a that’s! A huge question: that’s a huge question, i know and you’re the lady for it.
Oh my gosh, all right so opportunities.
Personally, i think that there is probably opportunities in almost every area of our lives here in the caribbean region.
I don’t think we’ve begun to plumb.
The depths of of of any one sectors, yet i mean some of them are probably more apparent, so, for example, education coming out of copenhagen and just the whole importance of online education and and further improving the systems that are in place.
Because, looking at that one, we have had many initiatives in many islands across the region, for example, as it relates to tablets in schools right, but one might say it would.
It was supposed to be something that you would probably use it as a supplement.
Much of the much of the learning is going to be happening in the classroom with the teacher in front and so on, but you might be probably doing a lot of um, maybe the sort of testing and maybe a little bit of remediation on on the on This device, but now that one is in a situation where schools are closed.
Yes, some of them might open come september, but we’re still not quite sure exactly how everything is going to pan out.
We actually need to have better systems and facilities to facilitate online learning.
Some of the many uh classes have been conducted on platforms such as zoom, and that might be fine, but maybe there are things that could be better.
What other learning tools can be developed? Uh there might be testing tools that might be needed as well.
So things like that, for example, in education, agriculture is a big one.
Yes right, fisheries, even the creative industries.
So so i think there is we’re just wash with opportunities, and the thing is that there are just many problems.
I think so many of us may have there may already be systems in place that are working okay, but you you need someone who is going to just think think about it differently.
Could it be done better right and, and you know it is the transformation and the disruption that that can happen, and some of the disruption doesn’t have to be um.
I don’t want to say well, life-changing was, is what comes say, but you know or dramatic yeah.
Yes, exactly dramatic, that is the word.
It could be just something that helps to to improve the system, to make it more efficient, to allow people to be more productive, and some of it is, i mean much of it may already exist, but it’s to apply it and to customize it for the needs Of the region, specific islands or for the region as a whole and just going along that point, one also has to consider the fact that oftentimes for entrepreneurs locally, they will create solutions to to solve a local problem.
But if the way how they they have designed a solution, it is not readily transferable to other countries.
Gotcha and one can say you know, try to figure out what might be the commonalities that could be.
That could make it more marketable, whether or not just within the region or even in other developing countries, other small island developing states.
So i think that we can be certainly a hotbed and a test bed for opportunities now downsides.
I think the big one for me and – and i think sometimes we rely on government supposedly to create the enabling environment, and while that is true, as i said before, government is often the follower, not the leader where innovation is concerned.
So we we need to just forge ahead.
I think the downside might be – and i’m not even sure, if it’s our downside but the readiness of the population.
So let’s say whether or not you’re doing something, agriculture or fisheries or education, and the readiness of teachers and farmers and so on to to take the solutions to use the solutions that are that that are being proposed and whether or not the infrastructure is there is Present to support those solutions, so i guess these are not necessarily downsides, but i guess um elements that might hinder the successful realization and implementation of solutions downsides.
What about red tape? What about the process like sometimes getting things done, you know, is not as efficient.
I mean in good times they’re, not efficient, let alone now with covet.
Yes, yes, yes, well, yes, the red tape is real and it’s still there and i think two very degrees has you know – become exacerbated by kubernetes, probably just thicker red tape now absolutely, but i think and i’m hopeful i’m keeping my fingers crossed because i think so Many countries realize, through corporate 19 what they needed to do e-government, for example, you know seamless, government, more efficient government.
All of these wonderful words and terms have been banned about the region for probably a good 15 years.
By now – and i guess yes, there has been progress made, but there’s the things to really shift the needle now moving from you know.
If, for example, you want to do some conduct some business, let’s say with tax authority, the tax office here in jamaica, so inland revenue elsewhere, sometimes they have the records.
However, if you’re looking for something like a tax compliance certificate, so it’s a certificate that is given to say that you have complied with you’re up to date with or all of the agencies to whom taxes must be paid are satisfied with the state of your accounts And much of that monies are paid directly into the tax office here.
However, if you want a tax compliance certificate, you have to go around to every one of the agencies in person – oh, my goodness, to get the requisite clearance, which you then carry back to the tax office to get them to issue you with the tax, the tax Compliance certificate, so that’s a lot of redundancy exactly so you see we, we have computers, you can pay your taxes online.
You know you can pay your driver’s license online.
You can renew your your your vehicle, registration, etc, online, wonderful, but then these are the things now.
The critical things that are still outstanding, for example – and i guess you know so you can do all of those things individually, online and they’re all within government.
But you can’t those systems do not sync or are linked together to get one report to say that this person has paid up everything.
I i i would think so.
I think a lot of it probably has legal implications, because you know various organizations have responsibilities.
So as much as the tax office, for example, might be able to collect all the revenues on their behalf and put it into requisite accounts, you know you need the authorization from the the specific agency, but in this day and age you know, do i still need To walk around and, as i said, i think everyone i think in every caribbean country, people will have their own sub stories and multiple multitudes of soft stories about the things that waste a lot of their time that you would hope by now.
We would be able to do a lot more efficiently and effectively.
So do you think the caribbean region is engaged with and adapting to these possibilities enough, or is there significant opportunities for bigger and useful growth? So i mean you just described one circumstance: um is it is it i guess, is it too much red tape? Is it people are not willing? Is it they just want it done um like what what is the issue here? Oh okay, so i think definitely there are significant opportunities for bigger and more useful growth.
I think that we perhaps have not we we talk a good talk right as a cabin person.
I guess i i i can’t admit that right.
Yes, we are learned.
We are bright, we can we can, we can, we can put down the best plans and the best you know, documents and dossiers with anybody around the world.
We we have that down, but whether or not or the extent to which we are intentional or sufficiently intentional.
With these plans to try to realize them in a in a in a realistic and timely fashion, because, for example, many countries across the region have developed, for example, national ict plans, national sustainable development plans and so on and often times these plans might have a effective Period from maybe five to twenty years depending but after you have probably had the draft prepared and that might be done by a consultant, there would need to be a process through which it gets ratified.
It might need you know some sort of public consultation once everybody’s is relatively satisfied.
It probably then needs to make its way to cabinet and eventually be laid in parliament or whatever, whatever the process is to have it formally recognized.
As a you know, a national plan, however, you may find that the process to get it to that point takes years.
You know, then, so by that time now, depending on the life of the project, you now need to go and try and figure out how you’re going to get funding.
And then, on top of that, you are looking to set up the various projects that they need to be implemented and getting you know bids and so on.
So by the time you actually get down to it, what often happens is that they well to varying degrees.
The plan probably isn’t in is becoming obsolete, yeah the technology has evolved way past its time and then what you have is that the the scope of the projects are no longer relevant.
You then also have that elections come and things get shifted and we can’t get back on track and we, we are still also limited by the fundamentals.
Whether or not the policy frameworks are in place.
The legal frameworks are in place, the infrastructure is there upon which to then just build.
So and again, if you having a plan that you need to, have you know a new piece of legislation after you have gotten the plan approved, you need to develop the policy.
You need to then develop the legislation it needs to be tabled in parliament, depending on the country.
Legislation takes years to get approved through the parliamentary process.
So again, you just find that we’ve, a lot of time goes and we we actually don’t get much done, and i think it really requires a a real concerted effort yeah to try to to really move the needle forward, especially where technology is concerned, because, as you Said things are moving just so quickly that you know you’re likely to suffer from obsolescence before you even get started yeah and that’s just such a big, sometimes demotivator, because you are, you know, you’ve got you got this grand plan.
You’ve got support.
You’ve got some back in and what stops? You is pretty much your own process within your country or your island, and you know somebody else by that.
Time comes up with the idea, and you see literally another company who has funding, and this happens so often that your idea is literally now passing you by in front of you, because another company has figured it out, has figured out how to solve this problem and Had funding you know from private sources or or whatever um, and i just think this is such a missed opportunity for a lot of these emerging economies where people with ideas who create these ideas and are ready to go just really don’t get the opportunity to to Excel and to bring their products to market or even just to get heard, and it just falls by the wayside um.
So it’s very important to um.
You know i think.
Well, there there’s there’s one of the issues that need to be realized, especially in these times that i believe a lot of the answers to a lot of these caribbean region.
The problems is right there in in the local communities, absolutely right, the talent is there go ahead, oh yeah.
It was just a point i wanted to make on funding, because i think funding is a challenge in the region and oftentimes, probably depending on on the project and the initiative that we are looking for.
You know external support, uh, so donor funds, you know probably taking loans from the world bank, international um, inter-american development bank and so on, agencies such as those.
But what do you want? What the the projects that you might want to finance has to be aligned with what these donor agencies are prepared to finance, and sometimes there is a disconnect and and and that can also be a challenge as well.
So a lot of it is just though, ultimately too many things the processes can take too long and we ultimately run out of time.
So i have my aunt in the cayman islands watching right now and she says, need to shift the mindset of leaders who are stagnant and i’m i’m sure, there’s leaders with you know stagnant mindsets.
Right now i mean leader, that’s a big part of running any company or any or any organization or country.
I think, as a matter of fact, i think there’s a pretty good example of that right now that the world is experiencing, so we won’t call any names but um.
No, that’s that’s! That’s! You know this.
This is a very deep conversation and i’m so thrilled to have you on episode, 70 of the podcast folks, as we discuss telecommunications and ict in the caribbean.
These emerging economies with michelle marius we’ve been connected on linkedin for years yeah and uh.
I’ve always seen her and uh um and the one thing i have to tell you right off the bat.
I think you have one of the best profile pictures on linkedin.
So no thank you from from a guy to a lady, i’m gon na show i’m gon na sneak that in okay, then thank you very much all right.
So as um in emerging economies, where the biggest strength is people – and i think, we’ve already established established that, in our conversation, that the biggest strength is people, what would you say to individuals and businesses on how to better leverage ict to connect their? You know development and aspirations to implementation.
Okay, all right! Let me just give that a little story.
Yes, i think, i think, just to start that for so many of us we have gotten caught up in just the the busyness of our lives and even you know minutia we can.
I am sure that you know when you get up in the morning, or even you know before you go to bed at night and you sort of think through your day you have so much that you need to do and it is.
It can be difficult to just find the bandwidth you know to think through.
You know what you might need the changes that you might want to make the improvements that you might want to make how to leverage ict in your business and one of the things that i found, for example, just pointing this out through just the kogit 19 experience Is that okay, so for many businesses, october 19 happened there was going to be lockdowns and so on and their business model began to flounder varying degrees and panic sets in.
But what i found is that sometimes people are not prepared to sit down and to do the analysis themselves or to try to figure out.
How might i be able to salvage my business? How might i be able to leverage ict, or you know, the tools that are around me to to figure out how to pivot you know and how i might be able to keep a roof over my head or keep my employees.
You know paid and taken and being able to take care of their families.
They people just wanted somebody to give them an answer.
Tell me what to do.
I don’t want to have to think, and i think that one of the big challenges that we have is just to be able to make the time to be able to analyze our situation, because oftentimes, and especially from for micro and small businesses, it uh.
It is the the leaders who know their business best, who understand.
You, know the business model and what this is that they’re trying to do and what might be some of the nuances of the business.
So, even if you were to to probably try to hire a consultant or someone an advisor, you still need to bring your domain expertise to bear to help to to ensure that the solutions that are being proposed are the right fit for your business uh.
So i think that we, we therefore need to to spend the time to conceptualize and also to try to be realistic with the implementation but or but i think, be aggressive enough.
You know in terms of the timelines that you give yourself so that things don’t drag on for too long, because again, what will happen is that you know we are continuing.
We live in in a dynamic space, so you want to ensure that the solution that you have is still relevant to the problem that you think you’re trying to solve absolutely um and that’s used right now as a race against time, especially with how fast technology is Moving and the multitude of opportunities out there – and i think this is such a vital time for um everyone in the region, uh, whether you’re in the caribbean, north america or asia, where you know it’s a defining moment in our lifetimes.
I mean the only thing like this happened almost a century ago and or probably just over a century.
I think it’s 108 years now, the last major time, so we we are we’re at a crossroads where it’s really up to us.
I think in a big way.
Yes, to step up, um, don’t be afraid to put your ideas out.
There don’t be afraid to take action, um to ask to seek out advice, yeah from professionals from friends um, you know, and and from your government, from your local officials from all the different resources.
A little bit of a little bit of work, a little bit of grunt work.
Um can change your life, can change your family’s life.
Can change your country, yeah uh, the right ideas, so with that uh last sure yeah.
One more point i want to make is that we we we sometimes can be a victim of our own success, because if we don’t had a business model that was working before you may find that you are inclined to try to figure out how to get back To that, and and not open yourself up to the opportunities that your circumstances might might be, might be um providing, and i i think it’s it’s easier said than done, and probably this is where, for example, external advisors become useful.
It’s just to be helped to help us or force us to sort of think outside of the box.
Yes, you may eventually, you know, dismiss the the idea, but at least be able to entertain it see whether or not it has legs and then decide whether or not it might be a bet, a good fit for your organization or even for your life, depending on The circumstances and and and and and take it from there as opposed to, i think, being rigidly you know rigidly holding on to what might be the status quo.
Yeah i mean and you’ll hear from time to time where people say the old economy is not coming back absolutely right, so the what you’ve done before, even if you did it well, we now need to find way to do it to pivot and how how to Deliver how to make things better and to i think one of the fundamental criteria in whatever we do going forward is number one.
Yes, it’s a business and it’s a livelihood for me and my family.
But people have to answer the one fundamental question: how does it make other people’s lives better? How does it improve other people’s lives and, if that’s your main focus on helping everybody uh, whether it’s being a local community or town city or country or the world, you can impact people anywhere today with technology right.
You know i’m in i’m in toronto, you’re in jamaica, the we have people watching this podcast from ireland, the uk every country, countries, i’ve never even heard of uh watch this.
This show – and it’s just unbelievable india is – is among the top five countries that listen to this show uh.
We have people from greece all over southeast asia, the middle east from time to time so um you put it out there.
Folks, you put the idea out there or the product or the service and people will come.
You know there’s over 7 billion people in the world and you know to ship products or to get ideas across the world is not that hard anymore.
You know so uh.
There’s all sorts of possibilities.
So how would you sum up, as we wrap up this episode here, um michelle uh, this episode, 70.
uh? How would you sum up the ict opportunities within the region? How would you sum up the opportunities? I think that the caribbean is the washington opportunity, certainly in the um ict space.
So whether or not it is with respect to um purely technology driven solutions, but certainly other things that can leverage technology.
So i think we we are continually being charged, as i i’ve been saying, to do things more efficiently, more effectively to be more productive and often times.
Ict and technology might be a way to to help to to support that, and so i think that again the region is a washing opportunity, but the environment.
It may not be for the faint of heart.
As you can appreciate, we as we we spoke about um.
My experiences with the tax office here in jamaica, but also just in terms of just the ecosystem and in terms of business.
We it’s easy, for example, here in jamaica to just to set up a business, but you may find that the ecosystem is not as developed as in canada or in other countries outside of the region, and the support for entrepreneurship and innovation may not be as as.
Well established um here in the region, so i think it’s it’s it’s.
It’s certainly something that individuals could consider, because there are lots of problems and, and challenges, probably might be a better word than to say problem.
There are lots of challenges that could benefit from a solution.
I do think we also need to be mindful in having these solutions about.
You know, i guess, managing the changes that that one is probably trying to to to foster, because it might require people to think differently approach things differently and to be not as intimidated by technology as as they might be.
But it’s also paradoxical because you know here in the region we like having the the latest smartphone and you know all of the amenities, and you know we are complaining bitterly about the quality of the broadband service that we are getting, especially since we want to be Streaming netflix and on you know, multitude of zoom calls and so on.
So you know we in in some ways we haven’t missed a beat, but then we there is still, paradoxically, a sense of being intimidated by technology.
So it may be something that you know.
We also just need to consider as well well when i, when i hear that – and i see that and i know plenty people in the caribbean, including they’re, right at home in jamaica, where they’re pretty tech savvy, where they want to be tech.
Yes, right, they’re, pretty tech savvy on whatsapp facebook, streaming videos, you know movies what not well.
We just need to refocus some of that savviness to ict and information and business.
Yes, yes, right, it’s the same stuff! That’s involved! It’s no different! You you! You know! I know p people take a lot of pictures of them themselves and their family, which is great, but you could also be taking pictures of your products and services and selling it yeah right and you could be communicating and making a video instead of watching a whole Bunch of netflix you could make a video of your product and, what’s that, yes right so creating content on social media yeah.
So it’s really just shifting the mindset a little bit, not a lot.
If you shift your mindset, you know 20 percent 30 percent to using that same approach and technology to productivity and innovation and sales and development.
You never know what might come back your way, it’s just it’s, no different, it’s no different than starting this podcast.
I had no idea where it was going.
I didn’t know what a podcast was michelle and my social media manager said: well, you better do podcasts and i’m like what the hell’s a podcast.
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh.
However, 70 episodes later i’m sure you know what a podcast is.
Yes, i i sure do and and and one of the things i’ll share with our audience.
You know in the caribbean – and i love the caribbean and i love to see people do well and and uh great examples like yourself is: don’t set your goals small, you know those goals need to be massive goals and part of my massive goal was launching this Podcast was to have some of the best speakers in the world.
You know such as les brown who’s been on the show three times tom hopkins many times.
People from silicon valley, who’s been on numerous times and now no different with the technology that we’re encouraging our fellow men to use and to start businesses and to innovate is once you start and you remain consistent.
It starts coming back the other way.
Now i can’t keep up with the requests right people wanting to appear on my show.
Yes, yes, yes, like i have agents literally every day, sending requests for guests to appear on my show.
I don’t have to search for anybody anymore, wonderful right, so it’s known different! You i didn’t know which button to press i i literally had to go to a studio for the first two years and have them do everything, and i would you know now.
I have my own studio because you learn as you go and that’s just part of the process exactly right.
Yes, so what would you leave with the audience? Uh? What tips would you leave? You know on, i mean we can talk about.
You know we’re approaching an hour here, but this has been a great show.
This has been highly in-depth, highly educational.
For me, i’m taking away a lot from this, and i very much appreciate your level of expertise.
Uh and facts i mean here is somebody that’s speaking to us folks, you know, there’s no notes, there’s just straight up from knowledge and experience and leadership.
I can tell that you’re a born leader and you know all these ideas and innovation and technology um.
So how? What do we leave the audience with? Let’s see how we, how we can, how they can educate themselves, innovate and then hopefully celebrate the progress? Okay, so well when you say, and i guess the audience being people outside of the region – i’m just trying to well, i i would say i mean in the region and out i mean we’re talking if you know if, if we’re trying to reach the folks in The caribbean, i mean, i guess it’s two different audiences right, but let’s say this was for the caribbean audience: [: Music, ], you know.
How would you um what tips would you leave with them and how to take advantage of of what we’re going through right now? I think clearly there are challenges that need to be solved and if there is one that speaks to you specifically think about you know what might be ways to that.
It could be solved, and you know we luckily live in a time where the internet is a you know widely available and the resources available on the internet such that there may be just general information.
You might need to understand about the context about what it is that you, in the context of the area which you might want to to focus on, there may be solutions already that might need to be tweaked or maybe based on how you define the problem.
We might be able to customize something there may be opportunities for synergies based on.
You know, strategic partnerships, whether within the region outside the region, so the whole issue of education can be quite comprehensive and a bit of a rabbit hole to go down.
So that’s what, as you, i think, would be the first in terms of you know, innovating and innovation.
It is certainly about trying to think outside the box as as this is saying, but again, as you said, the the solutions doesn’t necessarily need to be.
You know dramatic, but it could be an improvement to what the status quo might be.
I have, i also want to caution people, especially for those in the region, about thinking highly locally on solutions, because you may not be able to scale it, for you know, profitability and and long-term viability, so think about yes, you might be, you might think of the Solution to a particular problem in your community in your country, but could it could the solution be adjusted in such a way such that it is applicable and and can be implemented in other cabin countries in other countries, because it is, it can be quite disheartening.
I think, and and many local entrepreneurs i think, have learned the hard way that you may.
It might have been a brilliant idea, but if you cannot find a way to scale it outside of our relatively small populations, you know it.
It may die a natural death.
Eventually celebrate, i don’t know if i need to tell any cabin person how to celebrate [ Laughter ], we may even celebrate a little too much yeah, because i think the the point, though, is that recognize our achievements and to also be thinking you know of the Next step, what could be the next step? How can the product evolve or the service evolved? How can we make it better than it was before and continually improve, because i do think that and we’ve seen it in traditional businesses.
They came up with one product and it hasn’t been tweaked in 20 30 years.
But now we we are being forced by the nature of the environment in which you live, and not necessarily just in terms of technology, but the competitive space that we are in and how consumers themselves have changed and become more demanding that you know you need to Be continually adding value and – and i think as much as we celebrate – we also need to think of what will be the next step to the next level.
Well, this has been outstanding, michelle um, so any any final takeaway uh that you want to leave the audience with tonight.
Uh, not nothing specific in terms of i think we we have plumbed quite a bit.
We have done quite a bit.
I must admit so.
Thank you, but i think you know just you know i’m happy to if they would love to reach out and we can talk some more or certainly you know figure out how best we might be able to collaborate.
I um, you know i am available on social media.
If you go to ict pulse or linkedin, i’m happy to connect uh and and facebook as well uh we’re also on twitter.
That is, ict pulse, so i am.
I just think that, hopefully, people will will walk away with an open mind and that they will look at their own communities and and lives and and see what ict is is doing in their lives and how their lives have have benefited from technology and recognize that It is here to stay.
We are probably going to become even more reliant on it and, yes, personally, we may need to have some sort of balance whatever that is for us.
So you know whether or not is that you know you.
You know ensure that you, you don’t check yours, your your smartphone before you go to bed or you know, and wake up in the middle of the night to to to check your messages and those sorts of things.
But we we, i think, we we will benefit from embracing technology and seeing how best we can leverage it in our lives.
For those who are in the region, we can.
We are an innovative people.
I think we have created many products that have served the world.
Well, however, the challenge that we have is that we often may not have had the foresight to to to scale it or to customize it.
But we have been the inspiration for so many things, and it’s about time that we, i think, enjoy and benefit from the fruits of our labor.
Well said, absolutely, i think it’s time we we we step up and you know not just be the innovators and creators, but be the ones that bring it to market scale it and and reap the rewards.
You know continuously of offer benefits.
I mean look at every every supermarket.
You go here in canada.
Doesn’t matter what chain there’s jamaican food? Yes, okay, even yellow yam and sweet potato.
Okay, sardines mackerel, not just jamaican products! Yeah! You know products from trinidad like there’s a whole west, indian section.
There’s a whole caribbean section, there’s a whole indian section, so um we i’m proud, i mean we’ve always been.
You know, innovative! Look at our music, it’s everywhere, there’s not a radio station that doesn’t play reggae, music or some sort of jamaican variety of music right um.
It’s everywhere: it’s the jamaican restaurants um.
You don’t have to go very far to find one here.
Yeah so carnival is, you know, has become big everywhere so yeah.
I think we we have a lot in the region to be proud of, and i mean lord knows.
We we can be hard on ourselves and i’m not saying that we should not aspire for more and to do more.
But i think we also need to recognize that we are of value to the world and we have been of value to the world and we have been pioneers, as i’m talking to you.
Something that came to mind is that you know something as simple as the oecs dollar and the eastern caribbean central bank.
You know we think of the euro.
As this you know: wonderful, unified currency, but the ec dollar predates the euro.
We have been doing wonderful things.