Wed | Jul 15, 2020

Growth & Jobs | COVID-19 fast track digital transformation for business organisations

Published:Tuesday | May 26, 2020 | 12:17 AM
Colin McGann, assistant general manager for innovation at MC Systems.
Colin McGann, assistant general manager for innovation at MC Systems.

THE EMERGENCE of COVID-19 and the new normal have propelled many companies and organisations to fast-track plans to digitally transform their operations, said Colin McGann, assistant general manager for innovation at MC Systems, the technology company of the Jamaica National Group.

“A new normal has emerged very quickly, and it is still emerging as we speak, as physical distancing and personal-safety considerations forced many companies to adapt new ways to do business, which they did not previously consider even feasible or wasn’t even on the table for consideration until maybe some years down the line,” he pointed out.

“Now, in a short space of time, many retailers want to get online quickly, and whereas in the past, using cloud-based services might have been an issue, suddenly, that is not an issue anymore. Hence, there is higher demand for telecommunication platforms to support remote work, online learning, and even telemedicine,” he said.

McGann made those observations recently while addressing a webinar on the topic ‘Tech Enablement, the Right Fit for Your Business’. The webinar was organised by MC Systems in collaboration with the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica.

He noted that one of the impacts that the pandemic has had is the economic fallout. That decline has forced many companies to look at how they can use technology to maintain reasonable levels of operations and reduce the cost associated with operating their businesses.


Digital transformation is the adaptation of technology that favours digital-first experiences or where the first line of business is conducted digitally rather than through in person transactions.

“The pandemic has, therefore, led to a wide adaptation of technologies centred on offering services remotely, working remotely, and low or no human-contact transacting, as well as improving business efficiencies in terms of operations,” he explained.

He added that this presented an opportunity for local innovators and technology services providers to step up to the plate and provide a solution to what is now becoming a new normal for Jamaica.

Meanwhile, Dr Sean Thorpe, immediate past president of the Jamaica Computer Society and head of computing and information technology at the University of Technology, Jamaica, said that“the pandemic has forced everyone into a mode to learn and relearn to support the digital platform”.

He also pointed out that many businesses were unprepared, and as such, they now need to embrace the type of education that they will require to drive the outcome of those digital projects.

“One way to look at it is like ‘digital transformation on steroids’. That is what COVID has presented,” he pointed out.

Thorpe said business leaders must recognise that in adapting to the new normal, they need to embrace the education that will be required to make the transition to sustain and grow that business and to acquire the necessary talent pool, with the required skills, to be able to function.

“Digital platform suggests that you are running a heavy data-driven business, therefore, a lot of learning, with respect to automation, will include machine learning and data science. Hence, your team will need to acquire those skills,” he advised.

He further indicated that leaders would need to have a good digital road map to guide the business in addition to accessing inventory assets in the organisation, which would include looking at the skills sets and applying design thinking or ideation to build digital assets, which may require collaboration.