Digital expert outlines basic foundation needed for 4th Industrial Revolution

While advanced innovations were under way prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, it has accelerated the process of digitalisation as businesses scramble to adapt to a new normal by mitigating risks, accelerating the next phase of technological expansion and social change – the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Digital expert Christopher Reckord indicated that despite businesses’ attempts to make strides in that area, there are several underpinning indicators essential for the country’s successful digital revolution.

According to him, this includes ubiquitous Internet access, improving digital literacy, and facilitating financial access for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“If we’re going to step boldly into the 21st this is the bare minimum…but we have to identify quickly what are the few things that we need to start with,” Reckord told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.

“Part of digital transformation and something that we have learned from COVID-19 is that a lot of SMEs are not online and do not have an online presence to sell their products and services, mainly because a lot of them do not understand how to do that online,” he continued.

“It’s a struggle, and most people can’t find what they need. We need to work with the banking industry to figure out how we can help SMEs sell their products and be able to collect their money safely online,” he told the Business Observer.

Reckord, who is also the chairperson of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica’s (PSOJ) Innovation and Digital Transformation Committee, noted that one of the organisation’s subcommittees will research where the digital education gap in the country lies.

The PSOJ’s Innovation and Digital Transformation Committee includes a diverse group of professionals from among the PSOJ membership, with experience and expertise in the digital field.

The tech executive further indicated that a digital identification system is necessary to tie all the various components of the country’s digital transformation together safely and securely.

“The Government’s National Identification System (NIDS) is massively important for a lot of this to work. But we have to push all of [the basics] because we can’t have one without the other,” Reckord argued.

“Some people are not trusting of online technology right now, but we have to push past that. There will always be vulnerabilities but that is why there are offers of information technology services and why the data privacy and protection law is in place. People will always attempt to break into your websites – that will not stop. You just have to put up the wall higher as a deterrence,” he contended.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has been the most disruptive in a century, putting an immense strain on societies and economies around the globe.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) indicated that the new normal in the post-pandemic world will increasingly be driven by advanced technologies and their applications for inclusive and sustainable industrial development.

Whereas previously, advanced innovation was largely driven by business imperatives such as added value, greater productivity and comparative advantage, digital technologies are now impacting upon wider society.