A review of the six ICT/tech trends we anticipated would be evident in the Caribbean in 2013.
At the beginning of 2013, we published six ICT/tech trends we believed would become more evident in the Caribbean during that year. Having said “goodbye” to 2013, we are taking the opportunity to review our predictions from last year, highlight developments that occurred during the period, and by extension, assess how well we did.
1. Greater acceptance and use of cloud computing options by businesses
Over the past year, economic recovery has remained slow across the Caribbean, resulting in governments and organisations becoming more aggressive about efficiency and cost savings. Currently, quantifiable data on the take-up of cloud services by Caribbean businesses is not readily available, but from information in the public domain, we have some insight into some of the strides that have been made across the region. For example, data centres, such as the Curaçao Technology Exchange (CTEX), and cloud service providers, including Digicel, were aggressively promoting their services across the region, whilst Internet provider, LIME, migrated its email service to Google Apps in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
It is interesting to note that in migrating to Google Apps, LIME emails account holders will not only have Gmail as the backend for that service, they will also have access to a suite of cloud-based applications, which are part of the Google Apps suite. They include Calendar and Drive, which can be accessed in real time, from any location, and shared with others online.
2. Increased efforts to address cybercrime and security within the region
Over the past year, there were regular reports of network breaches across the Caribbean; however, as is the norm, what was reported publicly would likely have been a small percentage of that actually experienced. Having said this, there was evidence of greater awareness and effort across the region to begin to address cyber crime and security, including:
- establishment of Internet Exchange Points, for example in Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago
- establishment of a Cyber Security Task Force in Jamaica
- work towards the establishment of a Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT) in Jamaica
- launch of “Think Click Surf”, a programme geared towards keeping children safe online, by Barbadian firm, Caribbean Cyber Security Center
- development of culturally sensitive Think Click Surf programme in Dutch and Papiamento for Curaçao children and youth.
3. A change in the competition dynamics between telcos and consumers
The focus of this prediction was number portability and the impact it would likely to have when customers are better able to “vote with their feet” and change providers without losing their telephone numbers. As at the time of writing, most countries that had been in the process of introducing number portability in 2012, have not yet launched the facility. An exception is the Bahamas, where number portability on the fixed-line service commenced on 2 December 2013.
However, an unforeseen development that is worthy of mention is the introduction of prepaid mobile broadband Internet service plans by major Internet providers across the region. Traditionally, broadband Internet service is a post-paid service, which can be a deterrent to take up by budget-conscious persons. The inclusion of prepaid broadband plans opens up the service to those who are already prepaid mobile/cellular subscribers, which predominates in the Caribbean, and could lead to increased mobile broadband subscriptions across the region.
4. Greater affinity for tablet computers over the PC/laptop
Although no specific figures might be publicly available to conclusively corroborate this prediction, we have begun to see a preference, at the government level, for example, for tablets, over laptops and PCs. Of particular note are the recently launched tablets in schools initiatives that have been recently adopted by Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica.
5. Increased focus on device security
Upon reflection, this prediction was not especially evident among Caribbean tech device owners per se, in terms any marked change is behaviour. Instead, device security was a matter major tech manufacturers appeared to have given attention in 2013. For example, many of the premium smartphones released in last year included security features and capabilities such as biometrics, code or password lockers, device tracker applications and encryption.
Regarding Caribbean tech device users and owners, it is currently unclear the extent to which they are now using those enhanced features, recognising that device theft is likely to still be high in some areas. However, improved device security capabilities are becoming increasing available across most personal use tech devices, and so the onus is on the owners to activate and use them.
6. The BlackBerry will continue to lose its lustre
Finally, the demise of one of the much loved mobile/cellular phones continued this year. The manufacturer, BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion), released its long anticipated new Operating System early last year, along with a suite of new phones. However, the general consensus was that despite the new releases being good products, they were already dated in terms of where the market was heading and what the top manufacturers were offering.
Lost of confidence in BlackBerry also continued as the parent company made a raft of internal changes, and even at one point had invited buyers for the company. As at the time of publishing, the company was no longer entertaining purchase offers, but appears to be trying to determine the best way forward.
What do you think? How well did we do?
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