IT evangelist Trevor Forrest

IT evangelist Trevor Forrest

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

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Like a voice crying in the wilderness of these modern days, Trevor Forrest, a proud graduate of Jamaica College, has been an evangelist for the technology industry for nearly 30 years, praying that his words would not fall on stony ground.

Today, he feels some level of vindication as he watches the world's mad rush to embrace technology, driven not by a computer virus, but a biological version more akin to malware. It is not the kind of scenario he could have ever imagined, but he recognises that some good has come out of the pandemic. “One of my enduring philosophies is steeped in Sun Tzu's view that 'victory comes from finding opportunities in problems'. The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly created an incredible opportunity for the technology industry to revolutionise how Jamaica will become a significant player in the global digital landscape by evolving to new levels of efficiency and productivity through digital transformation,” he told the Jamaica Observer's Digital Life.

Forrest has served in both the public and private sectors, driving adoption of ICT from design and evaluation to digital transformation strategies.

His key assignments with the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) included serving a two-and-a-half year stint as senior advisor to the Ministry of Science and Technology. He also played an integral role in the establishment of the GOJ's online portal GOV.JM. He also had oversight of the public-private partnership between the State and telecommunications providers to establish zero-rated access to all online Government services.

His IT evangelism urged adoption and use of open source technology across the public and private sectors, and he took to social media as “Mr Open Source” to spread his message. “As a tech entrepreneur and open source proponent in a developing country, I see open source software as the catalyst to empowering our country and its citizens to become innovators and shape the technology of tomorrow. It is open source technology that has led to the creation of much of the technology we use in our everyday lives. Jamaica and the Caribbean region must embrace the remarkable possibilities that this technology will allow us to realise,” said Forrest.

He has served on numerous ICT groups and committees with roles including chairman of the Spectrum Management Authority, the National ICT Advisory Committee (NICTAC), as well as the University of Te chnology(UTech), Jamaica School of Computing and IT Graduate Studies Advisory Board. He has also served as deputy chairman at eLearning Jamaica Limited and the Universal Service Fund.

His drive for the digitisation of Jamaica led to a crucial role as founding director of the Jamaica Information Technology and Services Alliance (JITSA).

On his return home from the USA in 2006, his entrepreneurial zeal was evident with the setting up of 876 Technology Solutions, a provider of comprehensive open source-based technology solutions serving the Caribbean market. The goal of 876 Solutions is to provide public and private sector companies with integrated business technology solutions that will help them to successfully digitally transform so that they will increase business productivity, efficiency, and profitability. The company delivers these services through its many strategic industry partnerships with industry powerhouses. The likes of IBM, f5 Networks, Red Hat, GlobalSign & Cloudera are just a few of 876's leading industry partners.

For the past six years, Forrest has been a passionate enthusiast of blockchain technology. In his view, “Blockchain technology is the next big thing in tech along with artificial intelligence and machine learning.” It is his firm belief that blockchain technology will become the most critical underpinning component of any digital society. Forrest is currently one of a handful of certified blockchain architects in Jamaica and the Caribbean. He is an active member and contributor to the ISO Technical Committee (TC-307) on blockchain through the Bureau of Standards of Jamaica.

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