The benefits of Enterprise Content Management are well documented. Cost reduction is the primary reason why many organizations pursue ECM in the first place, and then they typically discover along the way that there are opportunities to improve customer service, maximize staff efficiency, develop new streams of revenue, differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and a host of other good things. Two types of Caribbean organizations, in particular, can benefit most in the near term from ECM: government entities and hospitality enterprises. Here’s why.
First, because the Caribbean is situated in a geographic location that it is prone to unpredictable natural disasters (i.e., hurricanes), disaster recovery and planning is a dire necessity. From a disaster recovery and planning perspective, ECM is a no-brainer if an organization is looking to establish a strong business continuity plan and minimize the risk of business interruption.
Caribbean government entities, for example, are responsible for maintaining records that are important for operating the infrastructure of the islands, delivering payroll, maintaining economic stability and delivering vital public services. Currently, the majority of Caribbean organizations mitigate the risk of losing documents during a natural disaster by initiating a proactive, well rehearsed process of physically moving valuable things to higher floors in the buildings where they are or to storage facilities that are on higher ground. Certainly, there are some instances where technology is being used to back up and store information in the cloud, but these instances are in the minority. (Granted, some of this is out of necessity because the Caribbean often experiences periods where electrical and internet connectivity is not available.)
Secondly, government and hospitality organizations in the Caribbean can often benefit more from ECM solutions because they can capitalize on their small size and agility. In general, smaller groups of people and organizations can more quickly publicize and socialize new agendas and deploy technology faster than larger organizations. (Just consider, for example, how many years it has taken to deploy security chips in credit cards in the US.) Caribbean organizations can benefit from their size once they have committed to a technology strategy with a focused amount of resources and funding; at that point, because of their agility, they can publicize, socialize, and execute that agenda fairly simply.
Special Considerations for the Caribbean Business Environment
Organizations in the Caribbean face cultural and business environment characteristics that are unique when compared to organizations in North America and Europe, where ECM is prevalent. The biggest differences to keep in mind when planning an ECM implementation are the Caribbean’s need for data sovereignty and economic self-reliance and its wide spectrum of digital adoption.
- Data sovereignty. Few people in North America could tell you specifically where their data is stored. IPhone users, for example, don’t have a need to know in which state, in which city, in which building and in which server their iCloud data resides. In contrast, In the Caribbean there is a need to know. In fact, for data security reasons, many sensitive government records—those pertaining to national security or voter registration, for example—might never be stored in a cloud, or even if they are stored in a cloud one day, the servers operating those cloud services would need to reside in the Caribbean. Although there are a lot of business and governments across the Caribbean that are slowly adapting cloud-based technology and allowing electronic content to be stored in the cloud, that data is typically non-essential and not personally identifiable—nothing that would compromise anyone’s identity or their security.
- Economic self-reliance. In many ways, Caribbean organizations are “singularly siloed” for their economic survival, and that self-reliance puts a unique spin on their technology adoption decisions. Government and hospitality organizations in the Caribbean must be particularly mindful of the ROI of their digital investments, strongly considering the benefits per capita of constituents, employees or customers: How will it make their lives better? The answer heavily influences the ECM adoption decision.
- A wide spectrum of digital adoption. Many tourists and business travelers to the Caribbean are surprised to find that digital customer-facing systems such as online checkout to which they are accustomed at popular hotel chains in North America or Europe are not available at their Caribbean resort—even if it is owned by the same parent company. Full integration with international systems is very much a work in progress. By the same token, some hotels offer an iPad in your room from which you can order dinner, turn the TV on, plan an excursion, check out, anything you want. This variance demonstrates the huge polarization of technology in the Caribbean hospitality industry. One thing is common to the industry, though: in order to stay competitive, infrastructure updates will be required.
This is the first article in a three-part series. NEXT in this series: “ECM Challenges for Caribbean Organizations”
Authored by DeAnn Zufall