Caribbean businesses have set bold ambitions for digitisation, but PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC’s) Caribbean Digital Readiness Survey 2021 reveals a wide gap between organisations out in front and those struggling to make headway.

Most respondents believe that they’re meeting or exceeding targets on integrating new technologies into business processes, and products and services (42 per cent on target and 28 per cent ahead). But that leaves more than a quarter in the Caribbean region who acknowledge that they are behind target. Moreover, only 15 per cent the leaders in their industry (“transcenders”).

Key findings include: More than 80 per cent of businesses in our survey are focusing their digital strategy on modernising their brand with new capabilities ahead of doing what they’ve always done faster and more efficiently (62 per cent); Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of respondents believe that use of digital technologies and behaviours has boosted workforce productivity. And over half (57 per cent) believe it has increased employee satisfaction; The survey finds well over half (56 per cent) of companies expect at least 30 per cent of their employees to work remotely more than one day a week a year from now; However, for Caribbean organisations, further upskilling is critical. Nearly half of respondents (46 per cent) believe their organisation is behind in training workers with skills for the digital era.

They cited lack of time and budget as the top barriers to upskilling their workforce with the lack of alignment/clarity on roles and responsibilities relating to digital ownership and inflexible or slow processes as the biggest challenges to their overall digital transformation.

Building on PwC’s Global Digital IQ framework, this is the first Caribbean region study to gauge progress on digital transformation.

Frazer Lindsay, PwC’s Caribbean CEO, commented: “From boosting workforce productivity to improving customer experience, digital transformation is now competitively critical for businesses here in the Caribbean.

“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 transcenders.

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

“The transcenders are making the most of their investment in new technology by upskilling their workforce, instilling an innovative mindset within their organisations and encouraging their people to embrace experimentation and change even if sometimes they fail.

“Across PwC in the Caribbean, we are pleased to bring our collective expertise and technology to help our clients solve these challenges and fast-track digital transformation.”

Arnold Niranjan, PwC East Caribbean advisory partner and digital leader, noted: “Our survey shows that digital transformation is front of mind for businesses in Barbados and the East Caribbean. From upskilling the workforce and overall operations, to providing a better customer experience by process automation and AI, it’s clear 2020 brought a major shift to digital and an increased pressure to accelerate progress.”

He continued: “It’s imperative at this point that all businesses embrace digital to minimise the growing gap between a select group of leaders out in front and a trailing pack with considerable work ahead to catch up.

“Leaders have to pass the rhetoric and get to action.

As digitisation accelerates, this gap could grow and be increasingly hard to make up.

“This is particularly noticeable in the workforce where many businesses believe they are behind on upskilling employees. Digitisation is a game-changer with so many possibilities, it’s critical to invest in the right ones.”

Respondents in the November 2020 survey to gauge the digital readiness of their organisations and priorities for the future, included 92 senior executives from leading businesses in a variety of industries across the Caribbean, including The Bahamas, East Caribbean, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. (PR)

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