Anecdotally, the adoption rate of end user technology in Jamaica is relatively high. There is a noted prevalence of the latest foreign gadgets, cars and music to name a few and the demand for more seems consistent. The sale of these products and services continue to increase year and year, driven by consumer need, but how is this actually measured? Are we really meeting the needs of our consumers or is our populace purchasing based on availability without true choice? How do retailers make the right decisions on buying, selling and product positioning?
These questions are difficult and complex and the answers may lie in areas which we do not accurately measure today. The study of the Jamaican economy and its market influences is a passion of mine and I have spent countless days scouring for information on our local businesses in a desire to further understand the adoption and buying behaviors of our people and the possible economic outcomes. From my limited research, it is my belief that we currently make key retail market decisions based primarily on our best guess of the market needs or through an application of global statistics. But why do we take this approach? Take any trend in the United States, Germany or the U.K. today and you can find granular statistics that you can use for your own interpretation, but statistics in the Caribbean? Relatively nonexistent.
We could argue that we are small nations, and thus we do not need to rely on statistics to instinctively know what is good for our economy, but that’s a narrow view in the global market in which we play. If our goal is to right our troubled ship, it is not enough to follow the trends, we must instead first understand our people, our culture, economy and our capabilities in order to innovate and leap ahead to the next wave. Access to information and the way we use it is the key to our ability to achieve this objective.
The ITU website which leverages Google Analytics is one of my favourite places to shop for information, however it is also a good example of what is wrong with the way we measure. For example, Jamaica boasts a mobile penetration value of well over 100% and yet the smartphones which we use to access so much information had an adoption rate well below the 100% mark. What does this say about how our end users actually consume technology? Are we really ready to innovate into the future?
The short answer: Almost!
As we continue the build out new infrastructure in support of our national development and improve the connectivity of our citizens we are faced with a fantastic opportunity to innovate our nation through analytics. Linked data in Government data warehouses, access to information initiatives and the emergence of Retail Analytics have created the near perfect ingredients for us to leverage. Key industries such as Tourism and Agriculture can utilize Retail Analytics to better understand local and visitor buyer behaviours on a granular per market level through the use of new public WiFi hotspots integrated with private sector access – all possible with Retail Analytics. Government data warehouses provide us further insight into important connected information such as future traffic trends, new business needs, infrastructure capacity planning, access to the un-banked and more. By taking the time to understand our customers, we can more accurately predict their future buying behaviours and needs. Taking that a step further, we can then leverage data modeling to better predict our growth capacity demands on all supporting infrastructure and better understand our national capabilities.
But this potential also has risks. Each day consumers readily share private information such as credit card details, shopping behaviours, their current location and more. Data, that in the wrong hands can leave them exposed: securing this data gets harder each day and the longer we wait to begin, the more costly and complex it will be. We therefore need to take a leap ahead in our recognition and thinking in order to take the eventual leap ahead in the new wave of analytics. Accepting the possibilities of retail analytics and data analysis allows us the opportunity to begin conceptualizing and implementing the technology (security, connectivity, devices, etc.) required to support its safe use.
However, we need to step ahead in our early conceptualizations of analytics in order to make this leap ahead. One way of achieving this is to deploy technology with the needs and use cases of the end user in mind and allow our customers to enable our innovation.
This article was written by Delroy McLean. He is the Director of Networking, Security & Mobile Workforce.