Information Technology has always been seen by non-IT personnel as just the technical aspects of a business. The computer freezes or the paper jams in the printer and you call the IT department! Certainly the fallacy of this thought pattern needs correcting. Management must also be trained to understand the potential and real values that technology offers in achieving the company’s goals and objectives such as cost minimization, increased efficiency and gaining competitive advantage.
The recent call by Grenada’s Prime Minister for the unification of the region via ICT is an opportunity for Caribbean countries to explore the seemingly endless potential of technological advancements, to create a powerhouse of our own. If we were to redefine the IT department into a fully functional business unit, focused on business areas and business value, this marketing-type perspective can allow the delivery of competitive services rather than just support services.
The technology already exists that can give Caribbean businesses an edge in the global market. Some of these include –
- Pervasive Computing – used by mobile apps to automatically “find the user” based on the situation. Now this is exciting for Caribbean mobile users as 12 out of 16 countries surveyed in 2013 show mobile/cellular subscriptions densities over 100%
- Seamless Collaboration – it is easier than ever for people almost anywhere to work together in this digital age. Employees are expected to take advantage of the ever increasing popularity of social media without any formal training. By adjusting the work and processes to be more social-driven and collaborative, the organization can become more productive, efficient and innovative.
- Cloud – there is no question about using the Cloud, just “how” to use it. This will be determined by the organization’s proactive approach to the growth of hybrid cloud, especially in equipping the relevant staff with the skills required to allow the components to work seamlessly.
- Active Defence – breaches in security can pose risks to business operations during disruptions; the reputation of the organization becomes sullied should customer information be compromised; and of course the financial impact of either of these can be crippling. No longer can IT security be about monitoring and prevention alone but pre-emptive action must be taken to stay flexible, adaptable and always one step ahead of the potential danger.
There are many more innovations available to us here in the Caribbean but one aspect of implementing and using new technology that is overlooked or given little attention is the human aspect. It is not always possible to engage all employees in the decision making process but consultation with staff most impacted can allay fears of the impending changes. Rumours are often believed before any real communication occurs and this is where the IT unit can be used as the internal change agent group to facilitate the communication process between management and staff.
The possibilities IT present are endless to businesses serious about enhancing the customer and employee experience while positioning themselves to be more responsive to opportunities and threats.