“The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.” – Proverbs 15:14

The Barbados Today editorial on February 4, 2019 was entitled “Wanted: A Marshall Plan for Barbados” in the context of growing the economy. The current Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation Programme (BERT) is built on the platform of structural adjustment, reduction in government expenses and economic growth. The editorial implicitly applauds the action that has been taken in terms of structural adjustment and reduction in government expenses but is appealing to the Barbados Prime Minister to advance the action on economic growth from rosy rhetoric to a clear game plan.

In this column, in our quest to identify potential industries for growth in the Caribbean, we have embarked on a review of business opportunities, some of which have been exploited, others partially explored and yet others whose potential is yet to be fulfilled. We have discussed the relevance of balance and synergy and have so far specifically revisited the potential for opportunities in tourism and its linkages, the plethora of cultural industry projects, and those in the energy sector. Today it is the turn of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector which facilitates the discovery spectrum (data, information, knowledge, insight, understanding, wisdom) and virtual operation. It is facilitated by the Internet, the information superhighway.

ICT opportunities include (1) telecommunications, (2) broadcast media, (3) intelligent building management systems, (4) audio visual processing and transmission systems and (5) network-based control, monitoring and dashboard functions.

The ICT industry is an opportunity for the region, given the fibre-optic infrastructure of some of the islands. There is a growing group of ICT professionals who live mobile lifestyles.  The Caribbean could be their new home base.

The five-point generic sustainable strategy, including governance, investment, market, operational and labour force issues, also applies to the investigations into the ICT sector’s contribution to economic growth.

We now live in a world of ICT brought about by the information age. Here is a brief explanation of the opportunities that are available for economic growth.

(1) Telecommunications – the transmission of information as words, sounds or images, usually over great distances, in the form of electromagnetic signals. The mobile smartphone is now in daily demand from children to grandparents. (2) Broadcast media – covers a wide spectrum of different communication methods such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines and any other materials supplied by the media and press. This has increased productivity in the communications sector. (3) Intelligent building management systems – provides the right information to the right people in time-critical operations in all businesses. (4) Audio visual processing and transmission systems – are directed at both hearing and sight, making it easier to have an impact in the transfer of information and (5) Network-based control, monitoring and dashboard functions – particularly important in the monitoring and controlling function of a business.

It is as necessary for small businesses as it is for Fortune 500 companies. The bigger the company the bigger the efficacy gains achieved by the company. This is environmentally friendly since reams of paper can be saved. Also, whereas paper-based reports or spreadsheets can preserve information, accessing it can be a chore.