TECH HUB ISLANDS SUMMIT (T.H.I.S.) 2021 CONFERENCE LAUNCH
May 27th, 2021 | Related To: AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (AMCHAM T&T)
OPENING REMARKS by Nirad Tewarie
CEO of AMCHAM T&T
Good Morning everyone and thank you for joining us today.
I am Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T and I have the honour of welcoming you to the launch of our annual Tech Hub Islands Summit (t.h.i.s.) Conference 2021.
This is our third edition of the Tech Hub Islands Summit or t.h.i.s. Last year, we had a unique edition of the conference where we had to break it up because of the pandemic and so what we did was a series of events as opposed to a single conference. In 2019, we launched t.h.i.s. and by all accounts, it was a resounding success. We exceeded our number of participants with more than 300 people attending, the satisfaction was above 97 % and we had some really stimulating conversations. At the time we thought we were catalysing the digital transformation discussion, but little did we know the discussion would be catalysed even further and faster by the events of 2020.
Before I begin, I would like to take a moment on behalf of the organization and the Board of Directors to offer condolences – because while we talk about the positive impact on business and the digital transformation journey – COVID-19 has reaped havoc on families, it has wreaked havoc in many different ways including the loss of lives and livelihood. It’s not been positive for everyone and what I think as a society we have to try and do is to find ways to help where we can and use the tools we can to soften the impact now and create opportunities after. In the meantime, we each have to play our part and try our best to do what we can to curb the spread of the virus.
Now in the midst of all of that, Trinidad and Tobago has always been a resilient nation. We complain, we love to poke fun, but we adapt. We are always quick to adapt to any storm that is poised to derail whatever plans and hopes we once had for our future. We saw this many times over the past 15 months and we continue to see this. When we were faced with new challenges and changes to our usual habits and customs, the best and the brightest of us shine through in our darkest moments. In fact, that’s a general feature of Caribbean people. There is no reason why this can’t happen again. And that brings us to where we are today.
Three years ago, we brought some of the leading experts in the world of technology into one room. We invited more than 300 companies to be part of this nexus of change and innovation. We wanted to create conversations and collaboration among industry leaders and ultimately build the Tech Hub Islands Summit as the fulcrum of our nation becoming one of the leading tech hubs in the world.
We don’t now have all of the answers. Maybe not even a detailed roadmap to achieve this. At least not yet. So, now is not the time for bold statements from us. I’m not going to try and put forward something revolutionary. It’s just time to do the work.
Our goal is clear. AMCHAM T&T will be the catalyst for making T&T a global tech hub. We will forge the partnerships to enable us to achieve this goal and we will work tirelessly, creatively, and methodically to make this goal a reality.
We will not sit by and hope for diversification ‘to happen’. We will not sit by and hope for investment to come into T&T. We will work hard, and we will work tirelessly to make these a reality. Along the way, we might stumble but we will get back up. We will hold the hands of our partners as we hope they will hold ours. We will find the innovators. We will enable them. And one day soon, we will be able to say that THIS happened. THIS is T&T – a global technology hub!
While we still have some ways to go before we meet this goal, we believe that creating a tech ecosystem will contribute significantly to future growth and sustainability. So, we cannot standstill. We cannot seek to deploy, invest in or adapt technology that, by the time of implementation, becomes old technology. We have to constantly look forward. Developing our tech sector for other markets and earning foreign exchange. Using the new knowledge to transform local businesses. After all, every business today is at least partly a tech business.
This journey would be easier if both the private and public sectors were transforming together. So, we welcome the work being done at the Government level, in particular through the Ministry of Public Administration and Digital Transformation and through agencies such as the TTIFC and iGovTT. Indeed, our own Zia Patton who is the chair of AMCHAM T&T’s Digital Transformation Committee also sits on the Cabinet subcommittee of Digitization. Undoubtedly, they are key partners and indeed drivers in the process of developing our Tech Hub Islands and we look forward to continuing to work with them.
As we partner, the dreaming must not stop! That’s why t.h.i.s. is themed “Now and Beyond”. At this year’s Conference, the story we are telling is not about becoming complacent with what seems to work now. Instead, we must consistently and constantly look ahead so that we are always chasing our dreams, while those dreams hurtle us to a brighter future.
Recognizing that technology is growing at a rapid pace and waiting on no one, is crucial to us actually reaping the rewards from investments in a tech ecosystem. Therefore, it isn’t enough to just digitally transform our operations because we’re solving ‘now’ problems, the real success is using technology and digital transformation to take us beyond the ‘now’ problem. That means we must diagnose, deploy and solve for what’s beyond! That’s when we know technology is working for us. And ultimately, we should be developing our Tech Hub Islands because it will contribute to building a future with fewer inequalities and more opportunities for everyone.
So, we want you to move beyond with us and imagine a world where we are not just adopting technology, but where we are also developing the next wave of innovation. This wave will see us relying more heavily on “third platforms” technologies with the convergence of mobile, cloud, internet of things (IoT) blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), big data and robotics that will alter even more how we live, how we perform transactions, and ultimately, how we drive decisions to conduct business and our lives. And we must do this not just as consumers but also as creators.
This year, the conference will be hosted over three interactive days from July 5th to 7th, 2021 and it will be 100% virtual to maintain public health and safety. This shows how quickly we have adapted and embraced the technologies that will allow us to reach a much wider audience and ensure all attendees are safe. Once more, we have invited some of the leading thinkers and influencers in the world of technology who are part of the global tech ecosystem, already reimagining and reinventing businesses, government processes and indeed, entire countries. We have dynamic speakers from companies such as Google, PWC, SAP, VISA, the IDB, Republic Bank, Digicel, World Economic Forum. And many more will be added in the coming weeks.
Our speakers will look at both public and private sector innovation and the accelerated urgency to adapt to the changing circumstances and needs. At t.h.i.s. 2021, we will take a look at where we are right now in our digital transformation journey, where we should be heading, and the steps we need to take now to ensure that we get there and move beyond!
This year we also have a strong lineup of sponsors who are once more supporting us and for whom we are eternally grateful. We welcome back our Title Sponsor, Republic Bank Limited who joined us with a leap of faith in year one and committed to three years of sponsorship and return again this year. Our Platinum Sponsors, PwC and Digicel Business are more than just sponsors. Their ideas, contributions and sponsorship value are highly appreciated and enable us to do all the things we do and attract the kind of speakers that we do. Our Gold Sponsor, The Inter-American Development Bank also has been with us from day one and has been finding innovative ways to continue the partnership with AMCHAM T&T.
We want to thank all our sponsors for their support and partnership on this very important and worthwhile set of issues. Like each of our sponsors, we believe that our nation’s future growth and sustainability is dependent on the right investments being made today and the infusion of technology within all aspects of our society. We hope t.h.i.s. will once more spark great dialogue, worthwhile partnerships and actions that will help us realize a new technological frontier beyond that which we have now.
As I conclude, let me remind you to check out the official t.h.i.s. 2021 Conference Website at www.techislands.net. There, you will find all the information about our speakers, sponsors, agenda, sessions, topics, registration details and much more. We look forward to each of your support.