5 ICT/tech trends we are likely to see in the Caribbean in 2018
With just few days of 2018 under our belt, here are some of the big tech/ICT developments and trends we are likely to see in the Caribbean this year.
In comparison to previous years, 2017 seemed like a mash-up of ICT/tech issues, with very few of them causing considerable public debate or outcry across the Caribbean region. It could even be argued that 2017 was a year of settling down and consolidation of all of the excitement of 2016 and before. Having said this, and so far, 2018 promises to be an interesting year. Here are five developments we believe will be evident in the Caribbean over the next 11-plus months.
Although 2017 might be seen as the year of the Bitcoin, in which that digital currency started the year with a market value of under USD 1,000, and ended it at over USD 14,000, with a high of nearly USD 20,000, the mainstream has finally begun to take notice. However, there are dozens of other cryptocurrencies on the market, including Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Veritaseum, and Monero, to name a few, and increasingly, they are being accepted by well-known businesses and organisations, such as Expedia, Wikipedia, Microsoft, Overstock, Square and Spotify. Further, based on the over 1500% growth in value Bitcoin experienced last year, people may be more eager to invest in cryptocurrencies.
2. Smart and intelligent things
Over the past four or so years, much has been made about the Internet of Things and machine-to-machine communication as the future of technology. As these two concepts continue to develop and become integrated in our lives, one of the ways they are already having an impact among average citizens, is through the home assistants and home automation devices (such as Google Home and Amazon Echo) that have become all the rage in the past year or so. Increasingly, smart technology is being integrated into electronic devices and home appliances. Hence as we continue to become even more comfortable with our home assistants, we will also be eager to capitalise on some of the true benefits of having these smart devices in ur lives.
3. Leaner telecoms
Telecoms companies across the region will become even leaner in their operation – to try to ensure their long-term viability and to maximise their profits, whilst still trying to maintain their competitive edge. The tension between those two dynamics will make for an interesting year.
We also need to watch out for the impact of the (potential) loss of net neutrality, which the Federal Communications Commission in the United States has voted to scrap, but is still experiencing considerable opposition. Regional telcos, such as Digicel, have been lobbying hard and consistently for net neutrality to be abandoned. The Caribbean region thus needs to be vigilant and unwavering in its position on this issue.
4. Increased automation
Sad, although true, human employees can be expensive, not fully reliable, and prone to making mistakes. For Caribbean businesses, especially those that are considered micro, small and medium in size, there could be an even greater impetus to use digital and online solutions, that are more flexible, cost-effective and scalable to their demands.
The push towards improved efficiency may result in increased use of productivity and online tools, as people try to do more with less. Many of those solutions have free versions, or can be accessed for a nominal fee or subscription. Examples include Hootsuite (for social media engagement), MailChimp (for email marketing), and HubSpot (for sales and marketing).
5. ICT in crisis management and disaster resilience
Finally, hurricanes in the Caribbean are a part of life, and every year at least one country is affected these phenomena. However, 2017 was one for the record books, with Hurricanes Irma and Maria decimating a number of countries within about a two-week period. Even outside of the hurricane season, Caribbean countries also experienced a number of other storms resulting in major flooding and damage to already vulnerable infrastructure.
In 2018, policymakers, plus both the public and private sectors, will be revisiting their disaster management and recovery plans. There will be a particular focus on making better use of ICTs in spatial planning, along with disaster management and recovery, including redundancy measures that could be put in place, to minimise the permanent and complete loss of their digital assets.
Image credit: geralt (Pixabay)