Dwayne Russell, general manager, MC Systems, a member company of The Jamaica National Group, urged operators of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) to embrace digital transformation to become more competitive and facilitate growth in the sector.
He made the call during his presentation on the second day of the Caribbean MSME Conference 2019, organised by the Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ), which was held at the Jamaica Pegasus, April 16-18; and mounted under the theme “Improving Sustainability Through Resource Development.”
“Some MSMEs suffer from inefficiency in processes, limited workforce, out-dated or out of touch marketing strategies, and inefficient or improper record keeping. They also have challenges in collecting electronic payments in this evolving cashless marketplace,” Mr Russell outlined.
“Adaptation of technology is low in MSMEs. That translates into maintaining manual operations, which are repetitive in nature; and would benefit from automation. Therefore, investment in the right technology could reverse those trends and help MSMEs to achieve real potential for growth,” Mr Russell advised.
Underscoring the importance of the sector to employment, he pointed out that MSMEs accounted for 35 per cent of jobs in Jamaica.
At the same time, he noted that shifting to digital technology requires a shift in mind set; and dictates taking a different perspective of the business, the market and the customer.
“Embracing change requires a shift in company culture. Digital has become engrained in our thoughts, our actions, and everything that we do and say. Therefore, it is crucial that technology becomes part of your business strategy; becomes integrated into your operations to drive efficiency and future proof operations,” he told participants.
The MC Systems general manager informed that digital transformation is implementing the right technology to ensure that the business gains the greatest value from the investment.
Citing some examples of the technology, which MSMEs can benefit from, he said this included mobile payment solutions, which make accepting and processing electronic payments easier. “Those solutions,” he said, “offer portable on-to-go options for mobile and digital businesses.”
Referring to data from the Bank of Jamaica, Russell said that the use of mobile solutions has been startling, given the number of debit cards in circulation, with an increase from 2.5 million to 2.9 million, between January 2015 to December 2017.
Additionally, Point-of-Sale transactions, which totalled more than $137 billion at the end of 2017, showed an average sale spend, per transaction of $11,900, up from an average of $7,000 per transaction in January 2015.
Meanwhile, keynote speaker of the Conference, the Hon. Audley Shaw, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, said that the importance of the sector is crucial to the growth of the country; and it is, therefore, paramount that the Government of Jamaica facilitates growth in the sector.
“Our MSMEs and large producers are innovative; and, so must we, as policy makers. We must ensure that we do not stymie this phenomenal potential, which can only benefit all of us. As government, our objective must be to create the environment for the private sector to drive growth.”
Minister Shaw stated that companies and individual persons are looking for avenues to leverage their talent and maximize opportunities, which exist within the market place, or to create niche opportunities.
“The MSME sector is indispensable to not only achieving growth; but, also broad-based and inclusive growth. We, therefore, need to find a way to harness and capture their entrepreneurial energies,” the Minister declared.