T&T: Get Ready for these Tech Trends
January 13th, 2024
By Jeanette G. Awai
Transforming Trinidad and Tobago’s business sector from tech consumption to tech production requires aggressive investment in digital education. According to Kyle Maloney, Co-Founder of Tech Beach Retreat (TBR), we need knowledge-based workers to power this change. Maloney shares his vision for the sector, “My position is that in the next ten years, the number of technology-driven products we produce should increase. T&T businesses should become producers of homegrown tech platforms and solutions, contributing significantly more to the economy than it does today.”
An uptick in knowledge-based workers
“Workers who can leverage tech-based tools will be globally competitive and continue to be in demand because they can create higher quality products and deliver better service. Our current talent pool is unable to tap into these global workforce opportunities because they are inwardly focused.” In order to be successful, businesses need workers who can upskill as technology advances. Additionally, from a talent perspective, the shift to remote work gives local talent increased access to a world of opportunities that would not have been initially available. Maloney has seen the benefits of this firsthand at TBR, where early-stage startups meet with international investors, thought leaders, and global tech powerhouses such as Jack Dorsey, the former Co-Founder and CEO of Twitter and Block (formerly Square). He sees a significant opportunity for the business sector to use knowledge-based and remote workers to solve local problems and scale those solutions across the Caribbean region, creating a new tech-forward industry.
AI will be as pervasive as the Internet
Maloney believes that Trinidad and Tobago is at a unique moment in the history of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and digital advancement, “With Generative AI in particular, there are very few opportunities where Trinidad and Tobago is at the same transformative starting point as the rest of the world. We need to take an iterative approach and adapt quickly. AI will force industries to reskill for a plethora of jobs that didn’t exist previously.” AI’s role as a copilot for businesses to automate tasks and organise data more quickly substantially increases efficiency, as demonstrated by platforms such as Chat GPT or Google’s Bard. However, Maloney advises that there are notable downsides. AI tools can produce inaccurate information and present it as factual – this is known as “hallucination.” Also, produced at scale, generative AI may be used to automate large-scale scams, such as sophisticated phishing attacks or conjure misinformation in the form of fake news across social media platforms.
The role of big data analytics and automation
According to Maloney, “There is immense potential in harnessing data, spanning from large enterprises to SMEs. Introducing automation, data, and visualisation could revolutionise the utility of data that is widely available but not well organised. This will empower businesses to make more informed decisions and may result in increased revenue generation.” However, while exploiting data and developing applications for strategic automation bear considerable benefits, an overly aggressive drive towards automation may adversely impact employment. Clerical positions such as bank tellers and cashiers are already being replaced globally and regionally by technological solutions.
Going on the offence with cybersecurity
In an age where digital assets are increasingly becoming powerful economic drivers, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be understated. Maloney underscores the critical need for all entities—small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large corporations, and government —to ramp up their cybersecurity efforts. Over the last decade, there has been a significant increase in the number of cyberattacks experienced by large corporations, including Massy Group, and by government offices, such as the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
He asserts, “At the helm of this national endeavour, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has a pivotal role to play. Beyond implementing robust data protection legislation, it should spearhead national cybersecurity education programmes to enhance public awareness and preparedness. Furthermore, facilitating public-private partnerships can help bridge resource gaps and establish a unified front against cyber threats.” Maloney believes that arming workers with more digital know-how will increase businesses’ efficiency, productivity, and profitability. This in turn will increase the global appetite for Caribbean products and services.