I’m back after the holiday break. It’s 2016 and it’s going to be another exciting year as the Caribbean gets more Digital and our Tech Economy grows even more.
I’m looking forward to it !
I was asked by a colleague of mine a few days, what do I think will be the major tech trends in the Caribbean this year. Instead of answering that question, I decided to share – what I’m betting on happening in 2016:
For the Caribbean Startup Scene to move out of the hype phase and into the get some real shit done phase. This will leave more room for the rise of Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurs to start scratching their own itch – to look at real problems to solve and desires to create in the Caribbean industries that could use some disruption and innovation. I’m betting on the increase of startups that are focused on building a profitable business vs using the startup idea as a visa to travel, enter meaningless competitions and become a media darling.
I’m betting on seeing more startups tackle how can Technology, the Internet, Mobile interact with our Sports Industry, Tourism Industry, Food and Beverage Industry, Cultural Industry ( Film, Music, Art, Design) and make them better. This is my 9th year in the Caribbean Startup Ecosystem in the role of startup mentor as well as producing tech media and Caribbean Tech events, so I’m betting on seeing better entrepreneurs and better Caribbean Startups emerge in 2016.
The Rise of Caribbean Blogs as Online Media Powerhouses. It’s been no secret that I’ve been a proponent of Caribbean Bloggers to take the media platform that is blogging (text,audio, video) a bit more seriously. I had made a Call for Caribbean Bloggers of Substance a few months ago.
I want to see more Caribbean Bloggers truly step up and grow beyond having a blog as tool to get freebies and fleeting social media popularity. I’ve been asking for us all to grow- further… go pro, focus, understand the Online Media industry and commit to leveraging the medium to move the needle on both personal careers and Caribbean Online Media Content. I’m betting on seeing more Caribbean Bloggers and their online media platforms rise and thrive.
Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. Mobile has eaten the world and the Caribbean is no different. Across most of the region, we pretty much are at 100% mobile penetration with smart phone penetration over 50%. I’m betting on the fact the global messaging phenomenon will be reflected here too and we’ve been spotting some usage trends by Caribbean users.
What’sApp is the number one messaging app in the world with over 800 million monthly active users. Consumers have used the app to replace texting and international voice calling especially.
Here in the Caribbean, WhatsApp has replaced texting, international voice calling – once major revenue streams for Caribbean Telcos. Caribbean people are also using WhatsApp for voice, party promotions, selling products, setting up micro-communities around their businesses, corporate team communications, dating, international voice calling.
This one app and the convergence of technologies it represents – has made global telecoms including our regional ones – Digicel and Flow – change their game and seek new revenues in fresh products. As WhatsApp add more functionalities – payment, shopping – expect more upheavals in the region also.
I’m also betting that Mobile Money will come into play even more in 2016. Digicel seems to have been ahead of the game especially in unregulated markets such as Haiti and their customers in markets like Jamaica already use “phone credit” like currency to buy and sell actual goods.
Additionally, the big banks are being given more time to play catch up by regulators it seems, if only by taking too long to set regulations in place to allow – all to play and fairly. Defined – Mobile Money is the use of a mobile phone in order to transfer funds between banks or accounts, deposit or withdraw funds, or pay bills. So I’m betting on regulatory changes, new players and bruising competition especially in the potential area of mobile remittances.
Courting the Consumer and Enhancing Customer Experience. Technology and the Connected Economy with its unprecedented access to information and choice plus competition – has placed the consumer in a very powerful position.
Yet in the Caribbean as convergence has hit the bottom line of telcos especially, we’ve seen mergers and acquisitions and the creation of spin off businesses. Social media has been forcing brands to be more human and transparent as well as engage with customers differently, if only because their competitors do.
With our access to choice in most Caribbean markets by virtue of being connected to the internet – companies will have zero choice but to continue to raise their game to get clued in to what consumers want, find ways of giving it to them differently and competitively and making the experience with their product and the company in general – better than before. The survival of their business depends on it.