A discussion of three business and customer trends that could make Caribbean MSMEs more productive and their business models more robust.
With the euphoria of the New Year behind us, and many of us, in our own way, have adopted the desire to make the most of 2016. For businesses across the Caribbean, our economies are still in a slump, with no meaningful light at the end of the tunnel. It therefore means that to a considerable degree, the Caribbean private sector is expected to shoulder (some of) the burden of stimulating economic growth and job creation in their respective countries. It also means that those businesses have to be able to ferret out opportunities, which are not only lucrative and offer a good return on investment, but are also likely to be relevant and sustainable in the long term.
Below are three trends Caribbean businesses, especially those that operate in the tech space, could consider adopting. Many of these trends have been around for a few years, but may not have been targeted at micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the region, and so could have been overlooked
1. Extreme personalisation
What is one of the key reasons why products and services like Netflix, Uber and Airbnb so successful? They allow their customers considerable choice and options to customise a particular product or service to suit their needs. With video on demand services, such as Netflix, subscribers can decide exactly what content they wish to watch, when they wish to do so, and they can even pause a programme as they need to, in keeping with their schedule, and resume at a later date.
The increasing focus on ultra-customisation was identified almost five years ago, at the e-G8 Forum, which was held in May 2015. Firms were beginning to respond to users demand for a more personalised experience with products and services that could adjust to their needs and lifestyles. In 2016, providing such an experience is virtually mandatory, as consumers have become even less patient and willing to explore on other opportunities that might be available.
2. Workplace flexibility
Over the years, much has been said worldwide, and including by us, at ICT Pulse, about telework and flexitime arrangements, and its ability to foster a happier and more productive workforce. Whilst the Caribbean has been on the telework and flexitime bandwagons for years, an official move by governments, to formally adopt and establish systems that support what might be considered non-traditional work conditions, does not appear to have yet occurred.
Having said this, there is still scope for private organisations in the Caribbean, which control their work arrangements with employees, to adopt more progressive frameworks. Such systems may not only increase productiveness and open up opportunities for a more efficient and effective organisation, but also supports greater work-life balance and loyalty among its team members.
3. Products and services for the more mature population segments
Finally, among Caribbean entrepreneurs, especially those in the software application (app) development segment, many of the products that are developed are for the youth population. That demographic are not only tech-savvy and avid users of new products, usually they are also within the same age group of the app developers and entrepreneurs. Essentially, these developers and entrepreneurs are creating products and services primarily for people in their age group, typically between 18 and 30 years old.
It therefore means that there could be untapped and specific demand for products and services among the post-30 age cohorts that is being given little attention in the region. Further, these are the age groups, especially the 30—55 years segment, who tend to have the disposable income to pay for products and services, which can result in more robust and lucrative business models, and ultimately more profitable businesses.
Image credit: zole4 (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)