Business

Artificial Intelligence on the rise in Jamaica — Fayval Williams

BY ABBION ROBINSON
Observer writer

Sunday, June 30, 2019

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Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams says research is indicating that by 2020, 30 per cent of all day-to-day businesses will implement artificial intelligence as a part of their digital transformation strategy.

Artificial intelligence refers to the area of computer science that emphasises the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.

She added that 25 per cent of customer service and support operations will implement virtual customer assistance across channels by next year compared with the less than two per cent estimated in 2017.

The minister was speaking at the 10th annual Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) Roundtable forum, under the theme 'Agile Leadership for Digital Transformation' at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday.

“We are in the digital era where the only constant is change,” she said. “The technological revolution and transformation which are characteristics of the digital age have significantly changed and reshaped the way we operate on a daily basis and in business.”

The minister noted that with emerging technologies, the country's response and strategies are crucial for economic growth and national development. She then indicated that this is an open market for which businesses can take advantage and position themselves to find innovative and creative solutions.

“Today's reality requires businesses to be a living, breathing system that adjusts and are able to evolve with the unpredictable and the rapidly changing time,” the minister said.

However, Williams acknowledged that while technology provides new opportunities for innovation and growth, the people are the most important aspect.

“As we embrace agility in leadership as what is needed for the digital transformation, we sometimes forget how unchartered this new digital world remains and that it is a work in progress, and it is people who are at the centre of this digital transformation,” she said. “Agile companies focus on the customers; they can effortlessly adapt to environment changes and they are open, inclusive, and non-hierarchical.”

Williams added that while 2030 is a landmark year for Jamaica because of Vision 2030 which aims for the country to become the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business, the year 2020 is just as important for the private sector.

She informed that experts indicated that the number of Internet of Things (IoT) — internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects - is projected to exceed 20 billion.

She then indicated that while technology gives businesses the opportunity to collect and analyse data in real time, the data collected is personal information that then becomes a part of an individual's digital identity.

She noted that like businesses, the Government must also be “agile in its approach and flexible in its strategies”. She emphasised that the Data Protection Bill is important to protect digital identity. The Bill that is expected to be continued in the Joint Select Committee in July will give Jamaicans more control over when and for what purposes their personal data are collected, stored, and processed.

“Our future is digital in many respects and we cannot, at this moment, even begin to fathom the extent and the reach of this transformation,” the minister concluded. “I encourage you to embrace this change, continue to elevate with technology and safe guard your digital presence and identity. I implore you to equip your business and leaders to evolve with times.”

The 10th MSBM Roundtable is organised by the Mona School of Business and Management, in partnership with the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica, the Jamaica Stock Exchange, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and the Project Management Institute. The goal of the forum is to target business leaders, entrepreneurs, decision-makers in government and academia and digital and technology experts to improve competitiveness and shape the economic development of Jamaica and the Caribbean.


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