The stepped-up embrace of technology owes much to several Jamaicans' pioneering work in encouraging and forging partnerships across the entire industry at home and across the region. One such pioneer is Wayde Marr, a foundation builder of the Jamaica Information Technology & Services Alliance (JITSA). JITSA is an amalgam of IT service providers, software developers and IT consultancy and advisory services. The organisation has expanded to include more than 30 locally registered IT companies.
For over 30 years, Marr charted a course as a technology leader, educator and entrepreneur. Today, he is an essential player in the merger of JITSA with the Jamaica Computer Society, a move long in the making and due for completion by year end. His ability to bring like minds and interests together is part of the glue used to make this merger a reality.
Marr's professional career has ranged from roles as a telecommunications technician, SCADA engineer and systems development engineer. The educator and entrepreneur's roles made him a standout player in the sector over a few decades by creating an institution specialising in information and communication technology. As co-founder and president of Vector Technology Institute, he led that school in becoming a formal part of the Jamaican university system and an integral regional player.
On a sabbatical from Vector Tech in 1999, Marr joined Herzing University (Atlanta campus) as academic dean and led its university status transition. He also joined the online faculty of Devry University where he was later appointed as a visiting professor.
Aside from the position as JITSA's president, Wayde Marr serves on the Higher Education Implementation Committee within the Ministry of Education, tasked with transforming Jamaica's higher education sector.
In an address to the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica, he encouraged a fresh look at the workforce and identified the IT worker's critical strategies in this age of disruption. His list of actions needed include: a reworking of job descriptions, encouragement of collaboration, and a non-threatening environment enabling disruption and innovation.
Marr also suggested that job rotation could lead to improved motivation, and that mentoring up and down the workforce would be a significant boost to productivity.
It is no wonder his expectations for Jamaica's development as a technology-enhanced society are incredibly positive. “There is no reason why Jamaica cannot achieve the Vision 2030 objectives [that will] make [the country] a global technology powerhouse. However, I fear that we may squander this opportunity to do so. We may not be resource-rich in all areas, but that has never stopped us before. We have all the factors for success including a) the political awareness and desire b) a public that recognises the path that needs to be taken, and appears to be generally supportive, and c) the intellectual capacity, with the awareness and motivation for transformation amplified through our recent experiences with the current pandemic,” Marr said.
This optimism has driven him to embark on complementary stages of learning, development, and enterprise. The company he co-founded, Vector Technology Institute, urges an aggressive approach to Jamaica's growth of the technology sector, emphasising the need to compete with the world. The company's mandate emphasises that our competition is no longer local and that the business environment has become increasingly dynamic and fast-paced. The company also insists that we cannot expect to compete effectively without the use of information technology, since this is an integral component of expanding our goods and services to the rest of the world.
It is against this background that Marr evangelises for Jamaica to train, as Usain Bolt did, to achieve world-class status. “As we progress along the journey, I see a weakness in the form of execution of Vision 2030 and the need for greater coordination. I would propose a review of the structure of our plan to include an overarching agent or agency with a shared Vision 2030 commitment — to harmonise the efforts of all agencies, associations, academia, groups and individuals under a single umbrella. This will avoid duplication of effort while strengthening the cohesiveness of stakeholder actions towards a common goal, “ Marr said.