Upskilling critical to meet digital transformation targets in region

Caribbean businesses have high ambitions when it comes to digitisation, but PwC’s Caribbean Digital Readiness Survey 2021 shows a wide gap between organisations that lead the way and the ones that trail in the adoption of new technologies.

Of the companies in six jurisdictions that participated in the survey, 70% believe they are either meeting or exceeding their targets of integrating new technology into business processes, products and services.

Almost the same number (73%) believe that digital transformation boosts workforce productivity and more than half say it has increased employee satisfaction.

Well over half expect the coronavirus-related lockdown measures to have a lasting effect on work processes, with 57% anticipating that at least 30% of their employees will work remotely post-pandemic.

But for many Caribbean organisations, further upskilling is critical, PwC said, given almost half of companies acknowledge that they are behind in equipping workers with the necessary skills for the digital era.

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A lack of time and funding are the top barriers to training the workforce. In addition, no clear roles and responsibilities related to digital ownership and inflexible or slow processes are hampering the companies’ overall digital transformation, the report noted.

In total, PwC surveyed 92 senior executives from businesses in various industries in the Bahamas, East Caribbean, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Frazer Lindsay, CEO of PwC in the Caribbean, said, “The findings from our survey provide valuable insights into how far regional businesses have come in their digital journey, how they can accelerate progress, and what they can learn from the front-runners.

“The key take-away is that digital transformation is as much about workforce capabilities and empowerment as systems and technology.”

The companies that lead in digital transformation make the most of their investment in new technology by upskilling their workforce and instilling an innovative mindset within their organisations.

Lindsay said the most successful companies are “encouraging their people to embrace experimentation and change even if sometimes they fail”.

Zia Paton, PwC Trinidad and Tobago partner and digital leader for PwC in the Caribbean, said digital transformation is not about launching a single new tech product, or automating one simple process.

“It’s about creating an entirely new way for teams to work, and for organisations to operate. It’s a journey that most respondents only began in the past three years. But 2020’s shift to digital and remote working forced by the pandemic has increased pressure to accelerate progress,” she said.

Digitisation potentially includes more informed data-driven decisions, a more compelling employee and customer experience, and more tailored and targeted products and services, Paton said. “With so many digital possibilities, however, it’s critical to invest in the right ones.”

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